The Digital World is Driven by Data
We are in the digital economy and data is its currency. Small, medium, or large, every company on the globe is heavily reliant on business data to carry out its day-to-day business operations. The reliance of data has increased significantly with businesses embracing more and more digital technologies and data-centered software. For instance, Internet of Things (IOT) is leveraged by businesses today to drive operational efficiencies through continuous collection and monitoring of critical data.
There are seven (7) billion IoT devices that are active globally and are expected to grow to ten (10) billion by 2020 and twenty-two (22) billion by 2025. This means the data universe is growing exponentially. As per IDC, a technology research institute, the data we generate, and store is expected to reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020. With this dramatic growth in data, comes the requirement to manage, store and back up this data so it can be restored in the event of a disaster.
The Cost of Downtime is Substantial
Organizations’ growing reliance on data means even the shortest of downtime (unavailability of data/ IT applications) can result in business operations coming to a standstill. Even brief periods of downtime can have a substantially negative impact on business. The inability to deliver data to meet customer expectations and satisfaction can lead to a significant monetary loss. With the power and speed of social media, users can make or break perceptions of the quality of a brand in moments with a message that will instantly reach millions of other potential users.
Providing a stable and consistent user experience that is always available is pivotal to an organization’s success. This requires a plan to ensure in the event of a disaster there will be business continuity and an uninterrupted user experience. Disasters can be man-made or natural, so it’s important to build a disaster recovery and backup plan addresses both types of potential disruptions.
Examples of Businesses Impacted by Downtime
Let’s look at some instances where businesses have been affected by disasters.
- HBOS, the banking and insurance company in the UK, was unable to serve its customers for six hours when a storm struck its Yorkshire-based data center in November 2009
- Popular content publishing sites like Huffington Post, Gawker, Gizmodo and Buzzfeed went off-line when their data center, hosted by Datagram, was flooded during Hurricane Sandy.
- In 2017, businesses around the world are hit by Ransomware, a malicious software that attacks computers and restricts users from accessing their data. Close to 56 percent of businesses reported a Ransomware attack and couldn’t carry out business as usual. One in three organizations that suffered the attack paid at least one ransom to bring back things to normal.
Disaster Recovery Planning Is Critical
Businesses build and maintain disaster recovery (DR) systems to minimize downtime and to ensure that in the event of an unplanned outage, they can quickly restore operations to normalcy. To do this, businesses follow different approaches. Some look to traditional data recovery systems as noted below.
- Organizations rely on periodic data backups where the company takes a backup of all their business data on regular time-frames.
- Some organizations continually synchronize data among different business locations in their on-premises data centers. The approach allows them to recall data and run in their alternate location while they work to restore impacted locations.
What Characteristics Define a Good Disaster Recovery System?
A solid DR system has the ability to:
- Minimize data loss in the event of a disaster.
- Minimize downtime by recovering lost data and quickly restoring operations.
- Quickly recover data from multiple locations and device types (servers, PCs and other portable devices used to access business data).
“18.5 Hours average time for businesses to recover after a disaster” 3
Challenges with Traditional Disaster Recovery
Traditional data recovery systems are not always the best solution for disaster recovery and backup due to a number of reasons:
- Increasing costs of physical data storage makes traditional multi-geo location on-premises data centers for DR a very expensive solution.
- Different applications have different mandates for data recovery, making restoration more complex at the time of data recovery
- Due to the requirement to recover very substantially-sized workloads and business data between DR sites and the primary site, bandwidth requirements and constraints lead to longer times for recovery.
- Instances of data corruption can occur due to improper data encryption practices and security breaches.
All of this can be prohibitive to successfully leveraging an on-premises solution, even if the locations are geographically disbursed. Because of these issues and more, IT professionals struggle to successfully achieve a solid DR mode.
“Out of 403 IT professionals surveyed, 54% feel that the current disaster recovery solutions they use are very expensive and 37% believe they are very complex to use.”
— State of Disaster Recovery 2016
Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery is the Game Changer
Across the industries, cloud computing has become a mainstream platform to run an extensive list of enterprise applications and workloads. Disaster recovery in the cloud is also gaining momentum as a viable solution for disaster recovery and backup. Cloud is a flexible, faster, and cost-effective platform to build and manage disaster recovery solutions. Cloud empowers businesses to enable automated virtualization platforms to add supplementary data sharing resources to effectively handle disaster recovery. Most importantly, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions can help organizations reduce complexity of the recovery. Because virtual servers are hardware independent, applications, OS, patches and data can be quickly transferred from one data location to another without the need to reload each component of the server, allowing for a more expedient recovery and reduced impact to the business.
Cloud means business: Many IT professionals, believe that a cloud-based disaster recovery platform is more reliable when compared to a traditional on-premises solution. Cloud-based DR solutions give them added confidence that their business can recover quickly and with minimal impact in the event of an unplanned outage.
Business Drivers for Disaster Recovery in the Cloud:
Easy to Build and Scale
Unlike traditional data recovery systems, cloud-based data recovery systems are easy to build. The time and effort that goes into building a cloud data recovery solution is comparatively less than that of building an on premises solution. DR in the cloud means no great deal of discussions and repeated calculations to add or reduce online resources as per the business need.
Reduced Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
Recovery Time Objective includes: time to detect a failure, backup and restore failed applications and perform required mandatory obligations to bring back applications to normalcy. This process defines the certain period of acceptable system downtime. Cloud-based data recovery systems can ensure minimal or no (zero) downtime by providing a replica of the applications through planned and systematic backups.
Recovery Point Objective
The Recovery Point Objective defines the acceptable amount of data loss a business can withstand during the time of system failure or in the event of disasters. Cloud data recovery systems help organizations bring down the recovery point objective to zero as the primary data storage and secondary data storage servers are simultaneously synchronized to ensure zero data loss.
Cloud DR systems can be automated to perform timely data backup and other mandatory application updates via automated processes. This means organizational data is less exposed to risk. Even at the time of disaster, the recovery time is significantly reduced helping business continuity.
Additional Hardware Support
Disaster recovery is a resource intensive process. It might demand different software as well as hardware for driving a successful disaster recovery process. Cloud-based disaster recovery systems can help organizations leverage any necessary additional hardware and software capabilities on a flexible usage basis to reduce costs. For instance, recovering huge sets of business data following a disaster requires high-quality and uninterrupted internet bandwidth. This may not be a possibility internally in the organization especially at the time of a natural disaster whereas this can be acquired as an on-demand service on the cloud.
Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
The very inherent pay-as-you-go nature of cloud makes DR in the cloud a cost-effective solution for organizations. Cloud-based data recovery systems offer flexibility to meet the demands of business changes, reduce recovery times, and offer advanced data security options. Further, cloud-based DR solutions drive significant cost savings and the flexibility to easily scale on demand. They reduce the need to plan in advance for future data growth and the need to pay up front for underutilized capacity while you await the growth. Because there’s no need to order hardware in advance, wait for it to arrive, be set up, etc., deployment times can be reduced from weeks or months, as experienced in an on-premises DR solution, down to just days or even hours. Also, the disaster recovery operations can be automated leading to little or no involvement of in-house staff for further cost savings and ease of use. You gain all of these advantages and do so without the need to expand your physical footprint. This is important especially for those who have limited real estate in their on-premise location. Finally, cloud-based workloads on average experience a savings of about 40% over on-premises solutions and allow you to switch your capital expenditure to an operational expenditure for added value. These benefits are the highlights of the advantages organizations can gain by moving to a cloud-based disaster recovery model.