Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Protecting your data from threats requires the same level of advanced thinking and planning as any other aspect of your business. However, too many companies continue to rely on old-style programming and systems as ‘protections’ against today’s advanced techno cybercriminals who specifically target data stores and bases. Worse, environmental concerns are now also presenting equally significant challenges to the security of corporate data. For forward-thinking company owners, embracing the values offered by the cloud’s advanced data disaster recovery (DR) technology is the only way to maintain the safety and security of their enterprise information, whether they are attacked by criminals or Mother Nature.

The value of a data backup and DR plan

Surviving a cyberattack or natural disaster is usually the result of proper planning, not good luck. Disasters can happen at any time for almost any reason. In many cases, the debacles cost both the company and its customers millions of dollars in damages and recovery expenses.

Things don’t have to go that way, however. Having a full-fledged data DR plan in place provides you with assurances that access to and use of your corporate databases will continue both during and after an attack, and can even reduce your organization’s exposure to excessive damages.

A ‘full-fledged’ data DR plan accomplishes many of your corporate goals:

  • It will minimize disruptions in your operations while your IT department addresses the crisis. Keeping services in motion ensures ongoing revenues and satisfied customers.
  • It will limit the extent of the damage that occurs. The plan can direct your IT professionals to the location of the breach or failure so they can make appropriate repairs as quickly as possible.
  • It also anticipates when alternative data sources are required to maintain productivity, so it ensures that your organization has backup data and processing resources available when needed.
  • Finally, the DR plan provides a structure to support full recovery practices, ensuring that your critical corporate data and processing aspects return to their pre-event condition but improved by the knowledge gained during the incident.

Once you’ve established your plan, you’ll want to ensure you optimize its capacities by engaging optimal resources.

Secondary data centers as DR resources

For many companies, a secondary data center is the DR response of choice. They simply duplicate their primary data stores in the secondary data center to use as a fall back if or when a disaster occurred.

The reliance on that resource is becoming less than optimal, however, as technologies and threats emerge. Many legacy data centers don’t have the protections needed to keep corporate information safe from today’s predatory cybercriminals. Further, their design and architecture are often expensive to maintain, and the DR purpose usually doesn’t require access to their full (and expensive) range of services.

Unprotected threats

Emerging cyber and environmental concerns now threaten the previously safe haven of the secondary data center, making it difficult – and expensive – for you to prepare for and maintain sufficient and appropriate DR resources on those secondary servers.

Cybercrime attacks

Innovations in technologies are the most significant contributors to the rise in cybercrimes in recent years. The Internet of Things (IoT) is of particular concern as each individual smartphone, tablet, and computer expands the vulnerability field of every system it accesses. People who use those digital tools may not follow their recommended security protocols. When they don’t, any level of cybercriminal can access the data contained on their device, as well as, potentially, data held in any system with which that device engages.

This challenge is significant in organizations that permit workers to use personal devices for work purposes. The data security for those companies is only as sound as their least attentive employee, and any worker who doesn’t utilize security practices on their device leaves their employer open to an attack. As organizations add more devices – both personal and corporate – to their networks, they are also adding new opportunities for cyber-attacks on all of their data centers through any one of them. As those threat levels rise, so does your cost to protect against them across your data center campus.

Environmental woes

The range of environmental threats to secondary data centers continues to grow as those legacy back-ups and DR systems become more elaborate and complex. Almost any environmental risk can become a disaster when there aren’t sufficient preparations made for the secondary data center:

  • In 2017, an unexpected electrical surge in a data center forced British Airways to ground hundreds of planes and thousands of passengers. Baggage handling, ticketing, and check-in services all went offline as the data center failed, and the company didn’t have a backup plan for those servers if or when they failed. (In the U.S., squirrels are often the cause of power outages.)
  • Lightning strikes can also take out a data center; both Amazon and Microsoft lost computing services when an electrical storm targeted their data centers.
  • Storms, in particular, have been especially damaging to data centers in recent years. Hurricane Sandy took out several data centers across New York and New Jersey, as rising flood-water inundated the generators that powered those servers. The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Gizmodo all lost power as a result of that storm.

Chances are, data security is not your company’s primary business. Therefore, it will become increasingly challenging for your organization to engage the technologies and expertise required to keep safe both your primary and secondary data centers.

 The cloud as the optimal data DR resource

Just as technologies flex to accommodate your operational needs, so do cloud-based DR technologies flex to accommodate your specific data security needs. The cloud DR strategy can both backup and restore your data if disaster strikes, giving you a foundation on which to work while your primary servers are under repair (or being replaced). Cloud DR services offer users multiple options, based on their particular use cases and corporate goals. Plus, the wide variety of implementation strategies can accommodate almost any budget, and give even small companies robust recovery plans that they could otherwise not afford.

How it works – as a backup and recovery tool

Fundamentally, the cloud ensures continuity of your operations by providing a second, cloud-based site from which they can operate if hard- or software systems go down. Known as a ‘failover,’ this service replicates the capacities of a second ‘backup’ data center, ensuring your organization has access to its data if its primary center becomes unavailable. It differs from your secondary centers, however, because its costs are born mostly by the service providers, who charge you on a pay-per-use model, a capacity model, or a bandwidth model. You aren’t paying for the hardware, software, physical plant, maintenance or upkeep costs, so using the cloud is much less expensive for your company than running a second data center for DR purposes.

Further, the cloud offers varying options for what and how your organization can ‘failover’ its information:

  • You can choose to failover just your data, keeping it safe from intrusions that may occur in your primary data center.
  • You could also choose to failover entire applications, which is significant for companies that rely on proprietary programming to achieve corporate success.
  • A third choice option is a virtual machine, which can replicate single or multiple operations on a virtual machine in the cloud itself. The virtual machine performs all your activities in the cloud until you get your home network restored.

Each of these options includes a ‘failback’ service that returns your data and programming to your primary data centers after they’ve been recovered.

How it works – as a strategy tool

Beyond gaining the peace of mind that comes from knowing your data is safe, a cloud-based DR plan also offers other benefits to improve the strength of your enterprise. Developing the DR plan, then tying it to cloud services provides a series of opportunities for the evaluation and analysis of how well your business works and how you can use cloud services to improve those processes.

  • Threat analysis

Your company faces threats that are unique to its business. Some companies may be vulnerable to data hacks, while others may be more vulnerable to floods or fires. Determining where your vulnerabilities are highest will help you decide which cloud services best address those challenges.

  • Impact analysis

Another point to ponder is how well your organization would bear the brunt of an attack. A loss of inventory data might not be as significant as the loss of consumer data, so you might consider investing more resources in one over the other.

  • Downtime analysis

You’ll also want to determine how long your enterprise might be down as it recovers from an attack. You may have internal resources to tide you over till the crisis passes, or your company may go down altogether within minutes of the onset of the event. Your strategy should address the challenges posed by down times to keep them as short as possible and facilitate a return to full functionality as fast as possible.

Crafting your data DR plan using cloud resources can improve your understanding of how your company functions and how well it’s working to achieve its goals.

Cloud providers as backup support systems

Not insignificantly, cloud-based DR services with NetDepot come with a team of dedicated cloud professionals who are available to help you solve all your data security concerns today and into tomorrow. With 24/7 support, NetDepot is here to help you keep your data safe from known and future threats, and to help maximize your DR strategy.


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