Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

There’s a broad spectrum when it comes to small business and cloud computing. At one end you’ll find small business owners who run their entire business in the cloud, while those at the other end hear “cloud” and think it’s about the weather.

Regardless it’s important to understand the proper way to use the cloud fordisaster recovery, how to lower costs, and shorten the time it takes to get back to business after a disaster. There are plenty of options; the key is to know which cloud disaster recovery setup is right for your specific business needs.

Your business needs to understand what disaster recovery really means. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that data backups are the same thing as disaster recovery (they’re not). Another common but faulty assumption is that you don’t have to do anything special about disaster recovery because all your information is in the cloud. Wrong again.

Businesses need to realize that disaster recovery is not a synonym for data backups and a backup is a copy of your data that’s been stored somewhere safe. Disaster recovery is a plan for recovering that data, plus all the hardware lost in the disaster, and returning it to a reasonably functional state so that you can do business.

It’s great that your data is in the cloud after disaster strikes, but can you reach it if you have no power, no working equipment, no office, and physically stranded employees? In business continuity planning, you must consider how employees can continue to work in remote locations and in bad conditions; how you will get new hardware in place in order to have something to download your data too; how quickly you need which data sets back in place in order to function; and other considerations related to resuming your business.

Cloud Backups and Time to Recovery
The cloud is a great place to store backups because it’s readily accessible and generally protected from disasters in your local area. However, you need to thoroughly consider time to recovery, i.e. how quickly you need that data delivered to you. That turn-around time affects how quickly you can resume business and how much disaster recovery will cost you.

If you are using the cloud for disaster recovery, you need to prioritize the data that you need immediately. If you opt to speedily download business-critical files, and leisurely download remaining data later, your costs will be much lower, and your recovery much faster, than downloading everything at once.

Cloud-based disaster recovery companies provide a wide range of solutions. Cold solutions are typically the most affordable and cost effective. The small business provides the inventory, operating systems (OS) and application and systems requirements for the set of data defined as crucial to recover quickly. The remaining, less urgent data can be recovered afterwards.

Keep in mind that you can, and probably should, use more than one provider or technology for your DR plan. Some are cheaper than others; some are faster in getting you back to business. By using more than one, you have options on speed and cost after a disaster that can make all the difference in how well you rebound in the aftermath.The best backup systems in the industry today combine three technologies into their disaster recovery solutions: a hybrid storage solution, image-based backups, and virtualization.

A hybrid storage solution keeps all the backup data on the local network as well as in the cloud. Image-based backups take snapshots of the entire server at once, rather than backing up all the individual files.

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