Why you should consider the cloud in your disaster recovery strategy

Cloud technology makes disaster recovery simpler and more effective – paramount for businesses today as the need to work from home increases.

While the business world may have grown accustomed to the pandemic and the new digital workforce, one very important downside to this is that now, because we are all online, we are even more susceptible to cyber criminals. Businesses may have developed new, efficient ways of working and collaborating; for example, with cloud technology. But working in the background simultaneously, malicious actors have been ramping up their attacks. This threat is very real and needs to be taken seriously. Supply chain attacks are on the rise and malicious actors are becoming much more sophisticated.

This isn’t just an issue of cybersecurity, though. One thing the pandemic has taught us is how central and core to business IT is. However, because it has become more central than ever before, this makes an entire organisation vulnerable to downtime, which can really hurt business brand and consumer confidence. Another thing that the pandemic has taught us is that unplanned disasters – like hurricanes, floods, power outages, pandemics – are a very real threat to a business. Research by the Uptime Institute states that an estimated 44% of organisations have suffered a recent major outage which has “tangibly impacted” the business.

Disaster recovery planning

To safeguard the digital assets and infrastructure of a business, a thorough and well-thought-out disaster and recovery strategy is vital in today’s digital world. Within this plan, businesses should consider hardware, software and data including Google cloud.

Points that should be evaluated in a business impact analysis should include how much data the business can afford to lose should a disaster event occur, and how quickly the business needs their technology back up and running again. These variables are known as the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO). RTO and RPO are the optimum resumption points in a set timeframe. To calculate these, businesses must consider the sensitivity and urgency of the information they keep, as well as compliance and costs incurred as a result of downtime.

The cloud also provides options such as warm standby for business continuity. This is where a scaled-down version of a fully functional environment is always running in the cloud, so if a system outage occurs, business operations can easily revert to this until the full environment is back up and running.

The future is cloud technology

If businesses can take away one lesson from the pandemic, it should be that disaster can strike at any time in the most unpredictable ways – which is why planning for the improbable is vital. Disaster recovery must be taken on with a proactive rather than a reactive approach.

Almost two years into the pandemic and working from home has become and new norm, with cloud solutions and virtual desktops the backbone of this new normal.

Much of the office space that was standard in the workforce has now become redundant. The idea around cloud technology is that hardware and office space can be eliminated and outsourced to external cloud providers like Microsoft or Amazon. Cloud technology supports on-demand IT, where businesses pay on a per monthly basis for the resources they use. This idea not only reduces hardware waste, but the carbon footprint of a business.

Three main cloud options are available: public clouds, managed by companies like Amazon or Microsoft, or private on-premises solutions, which can be outsourced to a managed service provider (MSP). Hybrid clouds offer the best of both worlds for those businesses that want to retain control, but still want the benefits of public cloud services.

Cloud services can range from networks and applications, to virtual machines, to development and deployment environments, to cloud storage. So many tools are available to choose from. Tools like Microsoft Azure can help businesses manage and configure their cloud solutions. Unified-solutions-as-service is a cloud service that provides telephony communication through the cloud in conjunction with other communication tools.

Disaster recovery in the cloud

By leveraging what technology has to offer, cloud disaster recovery is a fast, reliable, and cost-effective option that businesses would benefit from exploring. Cloud technology can be accessed from any device, anywhere around the world. Administrators do not need to be located on-premises.

What this means is that disaster recovery can happen from anywhere in the world. With cloud services, you can create multiple backups of your cloud infrastructure. Cloud service providers like Microsoft have servers located all over the world, so if one fails, a backup exists on another one.

Gone are the days of physical tape. With an on-premises server, recovery of digital or physical infrastructure is a resource-intensive process for staff. Cloud technology is scalable, so you can add resources like a database for example, with a few clicks. Because resources exist virtually, this makes backing up and disaster recovery simpler.

With cloud technology, disaster recovery has become simpler, freeing up in-house resources and staff. There are powerful disaster recovery tools under the umbrella of Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DaaS).

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The benefits

Overall, cloud computing offers benefits in the way of saving time and money for businesses by doing away with the need for hardware on premises and offering monthly billing for the resources consumed in that month. When it comes to cloud recovery, this is also a cheaper option than physically duplicating an environment with an on-prem server. Physical on-prem servers need to be built one block at a time. With the virtualisation environments on the cloud, virtual servers can be restored with a few clicks.

With an on-premises server, it is the business’ responsibility to keep it up-to-date with the latest operating system patches, and with the latest software. With the cloud, it is the cloud providers who have to do this. Microsoft invest one billion dollars a year in the latest cyber security to keep their servers safe and secure. It is a level of quality that would be hard to duplicate on-premises. Their worldwide data centers create multiple backups including off-site replication, and store data backups for up to ninety years. Cloud technology reduces the risk of downtime which increases the reliability of the business.  

Managed service providers and cloud recovery

MSPs provide an extra layer of service above what a cloud provider offers. They can further alleviate the stress and burden of technology for a business. MSPs allow businesses to outsource the management of their cloud. MSPs live and breathe cloud technology and have certified experts available to configure your cloud for maximum security and benefit, and appropriate data backup.

MSPs are also experts in cyber security and disaster recovery, so they can help a business manage everything. When engaging with an MSP initially, they can assess your current technology and recommend a solution that takes advantage of cloud disaster recovery technology. Reducing on-site maintenance and worry, MSPs can help a business develop and implement a disaster recovery plan (DR plan). They can test that plan too, simulating different scenarios to ensure the plan works.

Many MSPs offer 24/7 support to the businesses they manage. This means that when something goes wrong, the business isn’t alone and has access to certified skillsets in cybersecurity. MSPs know what to look for, so they won’t just leave your cloud environment to manage itself – they will proactively manage it. It is their job to catch problems before they happen, or to catch them before they become unmanageable. Cloud environments are powerful, but they are not perfect. Rather than hiring those skills in-house, it’s better to have a team of experts that know what they are doing to keep problems at bay.

Cloud technology is paving a new way for the future. It helps businesses to be more adaptable, cost-effective, and to remain competitive in this new digital world. Thorough cloud-based disaster recovery plans can help businesses have the confidence that they can manage what the future throws at them and to minimise the risk of data loss. Talk to the experts at Essential Tech to find out how they can help you manage disaster recovery.

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