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Why the Cloud Opens a New Frontier in Disaster Recovery Plans


Ben Zenick



For any business, a cloud migration marks an evolutionary leap from how you once worked with your data. The resulting shifts in how you manage your environment may sound complex, but the advantages are unquestionably worth the effort.

However, even after you’ve optimized your analytics program for the cloud, you still have to be mindful of the full picture. What if your organization faces a catastrophic failure or malfunction in your new infrastructure? Do you have the right plan in place for your business to weather a long-term outage? And just as importantly, do you fully understand how your business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) protocols have changed with your data stack?

Too often, organizations rely on decades-old processes to see them through a system failure. As practical as this may feel, these out-of-date plans not only fail to recognize how your concerns have shifted since moving to a new environment. They also could be wasting money by following out-of-date procedures for emergency scenarios that no longer apply to your business.

Disaster Recovery Scenarios for On-Prem Storage Environments

Along with natural disasters, outages at data centers are primarily attributed to hardware and software issues, power outages, and user error. Plus, recent ransomware incidents have shown data security is more important than ever. In the face of such consistent threats, companies may feel that on-prem storage is still the best way to control access to their data. 

However, keeping your environment secure requires navigating regular maintenance, system upgrades, and security updates. Along with providing consistent power and temperature regulation for your hardware, you also needed a team to back up and secure your data. 

With on-prem storage, all those responsibilities — and their costs — fall to your team. If a network cable, router, or switch malfunctions, you need someone within your organization to initiate your DR protocols and get your data back online. Plus, you had to ensure all your data infrastructure was up-to-date and ostensibly secure against cyberattacks.

However, once you’ve moved your organization to the cloud, you gain a powerful ally to handle the security, maintenance, and disaster recovery plans your business needs.

How Cloud Storage Providers Ensure Business Continuity

One of the core advantages of a cloud migration is its inherent shift in responsibility for your data infrastructure. Rather than absorbing the costs of managing your storage, providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) handle those details for you. Their team handles configuration, security, and maintenance of all the infrastructure that runs the array of cloud services., leaving your team free to work on more projects vital to your ongoing business. You can even resolve capacity issues with a few clicks.

Those same benefits extend to your BCDR planning. For example, AWS proactively performs scheduled updates and maintenance of the underlying hardware to prevent unexpected outages. However, no system is absolutely bulletproof. Issues do happen, but they’re uncommon.

How uncommon? Cloud storage providers rely on offering their clients dependable access to their data, which requires preventative maintenance. In the case of AWS, the company’s Elastic Block Storage (EBS) functions like hard drives for your data environment. EBS volumes have an annual failure rate ranging between 0.1% and 0.2%. Put another way, for every 1,000 EBS volumes your business uses in a year, you can expect only one or two of them to fail.

Redundancy and Regular Maintenance Mitigate Disaster Recovery Concerns

Despite the comfort those rates may offer, an important question remains. What if they do fail? From the moment you create an EBS volume, AWS ensures it’s automatically replicated multiple times across a data center. Or, depending on where you’re located, your data may be backed up across multiple data centers.

In an on-prem environment, your company may have had a well-designed BCDR system that reserved a few drives to function in a mirror state. That kind of thorough advance planning minimizes downtime and allows organizations to rapidly launch from backup systems in the event of failures. If your data has migrated to the cloud, you have a robust backup system in place from the start.

Cloud providers monitor your infrastructure so hardware degradation and failures are no longer your company’s concern. Beyond the occasional email outlining preventative maintenance plans for virtual machines, your company can drastically reduce a critical aspect of infrastructure management.

BCDR Planning in the Cloud Depends on Company Requirements

The contrast between your need for data infrastructure services and a BCDR plan from an on-prem to a cloud environment is stark. For many organizations, your cloud provider’s process combined with a regular backup strategy is enough to ensure business continuity.

For on-prem storage environments, you still needed hours of downtime to restore your data from a system backup. Cloud providers allow your company to be back up and running in a matter of clicks. If a machine fails, you can reboot your virtual machines and recover your data.

However, for some organizations, those moments of downtime can cause a real strain on your business. If your company specializes in managing point-of-sale purchases, banking transactions, or health care records, you need a more involved DR strategy.

With the help of a data partner, you can protect your system from failure by replicating your entire environment. In the event of a catastrophic failure like power outages or natural disasters, the data, systems, networks, and applications your business needs can still be available.

Using a cloud region’s Availability Zones allows your company’s environment to be spread across multiple locations. These data centers are far enough apart to not be impacted by issues such as lightning strikes, earthquakes, or floods. Whatever level of risk your business needs to manage, a cloud solution offers the most stable and sustainable path forward. If this sounds like a way for your business to weather any worst-case scenario, let’s talk.

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