By Dave LeClair
Business continuity and cloud computing are frequently discussed – and for good reason, as both are top priorities for IT teams. We often hear that IT leaders are investing heavily in data protection and disaster recovery (DR) solutions due to their company’s crippling fear of losing critical data. No one wants to put on their resume that their company lost millions of dollars or had to close its doors because data and systems couldn’t be recovered – in fact; many IT admins have lost sleep over this.
Few technologies have impacted IT such as cloud. With virtualization, many IT admins implemented applications in the data center differently to save on capital expenses and solve heating and power challenges. But it didn’t change the way those applications were created or used – systems were still located in an internal data center, managed by skilled IT folks and used static resources and manual processes. However, cloud completely transformed IT by offering unlimited resources that can be used, expanded or discarded dynamically. It created a new paradigm that fundamentally altered not only how applications are deployed, but also how businesses operate.
New cloud-based backup and DR solutions have been developed that cater to cloud’s inexpensive and flexible storage. But IT admins must closely look at the core of these applications, as there are some cloud backup and recovery solutions that are simply existing backup technologies with a bolted on cloud extension. These are not true cloud-based solutions as it is only a mechanism to move copies of backups to an offsite cloud storage location, rather than at the local data center or stored to tape. This semi-cloud solution will automate some time-consuming manual processes, but business will not experience the transformative impact that cloud offers.
For companies to truly benefit from the cloud, there must be a change in how data protection is perceived. The conversation needs to shift from one of protection to that of data and system availability. The dynamic nature of cloud resource provisioning and the mobility of data and resources within the cloud opens up possibilities that would have been far beyond the reach of most companies just a few years ago.
It is now possible for a single backup and recovery solution to protect data both locally while having multiple copies of backups stored in various cloud locations. Local protection allows firms to have backups cached near IT for rapid recovery of minor issues, such as an accidentally deleted email. Storing multiple copies in the cloud provides geo-redundant disaster protection for large-scale outages and ensures long term data retention for compliance purposes. While this was previously possible, the most powerful cloud recovery solutions today do this automatically and far less expensively than most customers can do it themselves.
But data protection is only the first step in fully realizing the benefits of a transformative cloud recovery model. Once backup copies are stored in the cloud, that data can be used to rapidly spin-up critical workloads in the cloud, in the event of a system failure. System availability and true DR is accomplished with a single click of button or phone call to the cloud provider to declare a disaster and have the secondary site turn on. Data and systems remain available continually and ensure smooth continuation of business operations.
Additionally, this new cloud data availability model can deliver true recovery assurance. IT no longer has to wonder if the backup data is saved or if applications will work properly in the DR environment. Recovery assurance ends the DR testing abyss that many enterprises face and IT admins dread completing quarterly. Infrequent, manually intensive DR tests are expensive and do little to reduce concerns about recoverability. Recovery assurance solutions automate the testing and certification of backup and applications in the DR environment, providing IT with absolute confidence in the infrastructure.
Enterprises and small business should not be content with just basic data protection built on architectures from the last century. Through cloud empowered recovery solutions, IT can now achieve true data and system availability easily and affordably.
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Dave LeClair is the VP of Product Marketing at Unitrends, a leading data protection and disaster recovery provider. Dave has previously appeared as an expert guest contributor at Solutions Review. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
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