Business continuity and disaster recovery are essential capabilities for every organization, regardless of size, sector or location. After all, availability and reliability are two of the most important aspects of any successful venture. Disruptions and outages can wreak serious damage not only on a company's operations, but also its reputation. If severe enough, the firm may not ever fully recover in the wake of a major disaster.
Increasingly, and with good reason, companies are turning to the cloud for their BC and DR needs. Cloud services can effectively maximize benefits in both these areas, all while driving down costs and freeing up in-house IT departments to pursue higher-level ventures. However, it is critical for business leaders to recognize that not every cloud service is equally effective in this capacity. To truly maximize their results in this area, firms need to choose managed service providers that can demonstrate a high degree of BC and DR expertise.
First, it's worth examining why the cloud is such a powerful choice for companies' BC and DR requirements. Most obviously, cloud services ensure that the company's data and other assets are stored off-site on the cloud service provider's servers. This means that any localized disaster – such as a hurricane, flood, tornado or other weather-related calamity – that strikes the business will likely not affect the cloud vendor's data center.
Without the cloud, the only ways for a company to enjoy this same level of protection are by either maintaining its own off-site data center dedicated to this purpose or physically transporting backup disks or tapes to a storage facility. The former option, while viable for some firms, is extremely costly and requires an immense amount of dedicated time from the organization's IT team. The latter, on the other hand, is extremely vulnerable to human mistakes and oversights. Failing to maintain a rigorous schedule can put a significant amount of recently created data at risk of permanent loss in the event of a disaster.
The cloud avoids all of these issues by off-loading these responsibilities to professional experts and, thanks to the service providers' economies of scale, decreasing the total costs affiliated with BC and DR initiatives. This, combined with the inherent off-site nature of cloud solutions, makes a hosted approach to BC and DR easier, more reliable and more affordable than any alternative strategy.
Experiences will vary
That being said, it's imperative for business leaders to recognize that not every cloud-based DR or BC solution will prove equally viable. The different options will vary in a number of key ways. For one thing, there's the issue of reliability: some cloud-based BC providers can offer virtually 100 percent availability, whereas others cannot. In terms of DR, certain vendors can provide a much quicker return to service than their competitors. Cloud vendors will also vary in terms of the ease-of-use for their BD and DR solutions, the maximum capacity of their storage systems, the ability to shift assets from one cloud to another and much more.
So what accounts for these discrepancies? Obviously, differing cloud tools and other resources are largely responsible. But just as important, if not more so, is the difference in expertise. Designing, deploying and maintaining a cloud-based DR or BC system is a complex endeavor, and expertise will have a huge impact on the effectiveness of the solutions in question. Business leaders should always look for a service provider that uses its experienced, skilled professionals as a key selling point for its cloud backup solutions.