These days, businesses of all sizes are looking to cloud computing as a means to more efficiently deliver IT services to users. Cloud-based solutions offer a cost-effective way to maintain high availability and reliability for user applications, especially if they support mobile workers, telecommuters or field-based teams. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Chris Pyle explains the important disaster recovery and business continuity benefits that cloud computing can deliver to your business.
Traditional disaster recovery and business continuity methods can be cumbersome and extremely expensive. They typically require buying and maintaining a complete set of hardware that matches or “mirrors” a company’s business-critical systems, including sufficient storage to house a complete copy of all of the company’s business data. The mirror data center environment must reside in a colocation facility or some other remote environment.One of the key benefits of the cloud model, and one that is often overlooked, is how cloud computing can help to ensure business continuity and speed disaster recovery. In today’s “new normal” economy, companies of all sizes have to look for affordable ways to deliver quality IT services reliably and continuously to customers and employees. Cloud computing presents a low-cost disaster recovery and business continuity solution for small and midsize businesses and a more cost-effective alternative to cost-conscious larger corporations.
Add to the hardware capital outlay and ongoing maintenance fees the cost of regularly replicating production data on the mirror systems, physically moving the data from Point A to Point B. Another added cost factor is keeping the application software in sync in both locations. The software has to be updated every time there’s a modification or upgrade to the production systems.
The cloud-enabled next practice
A lot of companies today don’t have good disaster recovery mechanisms in place, especially SMBs. Those that do can easily find themselves spending millions to maintain a spare set of duplicate equipment they’re not actively using in production.
The cloud model represents a paradigm shift for business continuity; more than a best practice, it’s actually more of a “next practice.” It’s a new way of approaching the problem that provides a superior, yet much simpler, strategy for solving it.
A cloud-based disaster recovery and business continuity solution is a good fit for any business with a low tolerance for downtime and data loss. Your local pool service or florist shop might be able to conduct business for as long as week (or more) without their computer systems. But most SMBs and larger businesses today are transaction-driven, data-intensive and time-sensitive operations. Many businesses and critical service providers such as hospitals cannot ever be down (or if they can, not for more than 30 seconds) and they can’t tolerate data loss longer than two or three minutes.
How the next practice model works
In the cloud “next practice” model, you use your in-house production systems to run your business and work with a cloud computing service provider for your business continuity and disaster protection. You don’t have to buy any extra hardware or software to mirror your data center environment. You don’t have to worry about backing up or transporting your data. Your data and software are replicated automatically at preset intervals to a virtual repository storage facility in the cloud. This requires very little compute resource, even if you replicate your data once an hour—or even every five minutes. In the cloud computing model, you pay only for the resources you use, so the replication and storage cost is minimal.
A key factor in choosing a cloud computing vendor partner is making sure the vendor has the ability to burst resources on demand. Your cloud provider needs to be flexible, scalable and agile enough to be able to give you immediate access to all of the compute capacity, memory and processors that you need, when you need them, for as long as you need them.
When a natural disaster is looming (for example, a hurricane or blizzard is heading your way or wildfires are raging in your area), you turn on your storage resources and applications to active processing mode on the virtual machines in the cloud. Then, simply redirect your employees and customers to the cloud during the disaster. The changeover will be completely transparent to them, with no interruption or disruption of your business. Once the danger has passed, you replicate the updated data from the cloud repository back to your in-house production systems and resume normal everyday operations. If your data center sustained damage, you can continue to operate virtually in the cloud until you have it up and operational again—with no loss of productivity or data.
Cloud computing ensures business continuity
The cloud computing solution offers most businesses an elegant, simple, cost-effective solution for rapid disaster recovery and business continuity assurance. It eliminates the need for buying and maintaining duplicate hardware and software, so there’s no costly capital outlay required.
Data replication to the cloud is automatic. The passive use of the enabling technology to transport data to the cloud and use the repository for storage consumes very little compute power or resources and, thus, the monthly cost is minimal. The complete resources you need in the event of a disaster are always there for you, and you pay only for the resources you use when you need them. Best of all, you can rest easy knowing that your data and your business systems are safe from disaster.
Chris Pyle is President and CEO at Champion Solutions Group. Chris began his career with Champion Solutions Group in the trenches as a sales rep in 1986. Over the years, Chris has become the driving force behind the organization’s development of key strategic alliances. While Chris is actively engaged in the strategic direction of Champion Solutions Group, he also makes time to serve on several advisory councils for technology companies and some of the major technology manufacturers.
Chris is also an active member of Vistage International, the world’s foremost chief executive leadership organization, providing guidance and leadership to other executives and managers. Over the past 25 years, Chris has worked tirelessly to not only advance his own career but those of his employees. In addition to leading Champion Solutions Group, Chris can also be found sitting with the sales teams, cold calling and coaching. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.