What is Cloud Disaster Recovery?
Cloud disaster recover (Cloud DR) refers to a number of strategies and services intended to back up data, applications, and other resources to a public cloud or dedicated service provider.1 When a disaster occurs, the affected data, applications, and resources can be restored to the local data center or cloud provider, and then normal enterprise operations can resume. Much like traditional disaster recovery, the goal of cloud DR is to protect enterprise resources and to ensure that those protected resources can be recovered and accessed, to ensure business continuity. Managed service providers and public clouds offer dedicated facilities offering a wide range of effective back up and DR services and capabilities and offer continuous access to automated and scalable off-site solutions that are less expensive and less time/resource-consuming to manage than a second data center.
There are three fundamental approaches to cloud DR:
Cold DR. Involves the storage of data on virtual machines (VMs).
Warm DR. A standby approach where duplicate data and applications are placed with a cloud DR provider and kept up to date in the primary data center.
Hot DR. Involves a live parallel deployment of data and workload running together in tandem in both the primary data center and the DR site.
Some of the advantages of cloud DR are:
Flexibility/scalability. Traditional DR solutions typically involved local or remote data centers that limited flexibility and scalability. Cloud DR choices, such as public cloud servers and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) providers, provide a multitude of scalable and flexible resources that can be accessed on-demand and adjusted to meet the changing needs of an organization.
Reliability/geo-redundancy. Cloud service providers provide reliable service through their use of multiple data centers across major geo-political regions.
Fast recovery. Organizations can select high bandwidth input/output options to optimize data transfer speeds to meet recovery objectives. Recovery point objectives (RPOs) are the maximum amount of time that an organization is willing to lose data on their systems due to an event, and recovery time objectives (RTOs) refer to how fast and organizations can recover from the moment of disaster to the moment they return to normal operations.
Easy testing. Virtual machines (VM) are often used for cloud workload operations, making it easy to copy VM image files to in-house test servers to validate workload availability.
Lower DR costs. Cloud DR reduces costs because smaller businesses can eliminate the need to hire DR experts or maintain on-site DR, larger IT teams can focus on core operations rather than DR activities, the cloud provider orchestrates backup, failover, and failback services, and there is less investment in hardware and software purchasing and maintenance.
Compliance. Industry or governmental regulatory compliance such as HIPAA, GDPR, PCI, and SOC 2 can be assured through managed DR solutions with set controls.
1 Bigelow, 2022, “cloud disaster recovery”