How to Plan an Effective Cloud Disaster Recovery Strategy?
In a world where technology drives almost every aspect of our lives, the cloud has really elevated this experience.
From undertaking complex operational workloads to executing large scale disaster recovery plans, the cloud has made our day-to-day operations nearly effortless.
Coming to a complex task like managing a disaster recovery operation, the cloud has made us ponder about how difficult it was to carry out a disaster recovery project, before its arrival.
Let’s consider the time and resources invested in a traditional disaster recovery plan.
If your main data center were to be effected by a disaster, then you would have to look up to the backup data center, which of course comes with double the work including:
- Setting up a physical location and facilities to house your IT infrastructure
- Engaging contact persons and security personnel for the setup
- Enhancing server capacity to store data and match your applications scaling requirements
- Provisioning support staff for infrastructure maintenance
- Facilitating internet connectivity with enough bandwidth to run applications
- Setup network infrastructure including firewalls, load balancers, routers and switches
This will sum up to spiraling costs and unmanageable resources, leaving the data center as just a data backup and nothing more.
With the dawn of cloud computing, disaster recovery has become just another task that can be taken care of in a matter of a couple hours or minutes.
A Cloud Disaster Recovery project offers organizations several benefits including:
- Saves Time/Capital
- More Data Backup Location Options
- Easy to Implement with High Reliability
For organizations considering cloud disaster recovery for the first time and are wondering where to start, here’s an easy cloud disaster recovery plan that will help you plan an effective disaster recovery strategy:
Step 1: Understand Your Infrastructure & Outline Any Risks
It is important to take into consideration your IT infrastructure including the assets, equipment and the data your possess.
It’s also important to assess where all this is stored and how much it is all worth. Once you’ve got this aspect sorted. You now need to assess the risks that might affect all this.
Risks can include natural disasters, data theft and power outages, among others.
Now that you have an account of all your assets, their quantities and possible disaster threats to them, you are in a better position to design your DR plan to eliminate/minimize these risks.
Step 2: Conduct a Business Impact Analysis
A business impact analysis is next in the list. This will give you an understanding of the limitations of your business operations once disaster strikes.
Following two parameters help you assess this factor:
a) Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
b) Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
a) Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
RTO is the maximum time that your application can stay offline before beginning to affect your business operations.
Scenario 1: If your company is dedicated to fast-paced service delivery, then an application failure can cost you heavy losses.
Moreover, you’ll have to invest heavily in a DR plan to resume business operations in a matter of minutes.
Scenario 2: If you have a medium-paced business and disaster effects your operations, you can still find alternatives ways to carry out business operations.
Therefore, you can set your RTO for as long as one week. In such case, you will not have to invest many resources into disaster recovery saving, thus saving ample time to acquire ample backup assets after the disaster strikes.
Having knowledge of your RTO is very important as it equivalent to the amount of resources you have to invest in your DR plan, as the time lost in the RTO can be used to gather backup resources.
b) Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
RPO is the maximum amount of time for which you can bear data loss from your application due to a major crisis.
Points to consider for determining RPO:
- Possible data loss when disaster strikes
- Possible time loss before the data compromise
If you apply the aforementioned scenario, then your RPO can be as little as five minutes, as your business is a critical one and cannot afford more than the specified amount of time-lapse.
Whereas for Scenario 2, you may want to backup your data but since the data isn’t time-sensitive, you will not have to invest heavily in DR.
Step 3: Creating a DR plan based on your RPO and RTO
Now that you have determined your RPO and RTO, you can now focus on designing a system to meet your DR goals.
You can choose from the below range of DR approaches to implement your DR plan:
- Backup and Restore
- Pilot Light Approach
- Warm Standby
- Full replication in the Cloud
- Multi-Cloud Option
You can use a combination of these approaches to your benefit or exclusively as per your business requirement.
Step 4: Approach the Right Cloud Partner
After you have considered your approach, next steps should be to look for a trusted cloud service provider that will help in deployment.
If you are planning to use the full replication in the Cloud, then you would like to consider the following factors to assess an ideal cloud provider:
- Speed of Recovery
- Simplicity in Setup and Recovery
- Security Compliance
All the big cloud service providers including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM have disaster recovery options. Besides these big firms, there are also medium and small firms that offer quality Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS)
Step 5: Build Your Cloud DR Infrastructure
After consulting a cloud DR partner, you can work with the provider to implement your design and setup your DR infrastructure.
Based on the DR approach you select, there are several logistical aspects to consider:
- What is the quantity of infrastructure component you will require?
- By what means will you copy the data to the cloud?
- What are the best ways to approach user authentication and access management?
- What security and compliance best practices will you need to setup?
- What security measures will you put in place to minimize the likelihood of disasters?
Remember! It is important to ensure your DR strategy is in alignment with your RTO and RPO specifications for smooth business operations.
Step 6: Put Your Disaster Recovery Plan on Paper
It is important to have a standard guideline or process flowchart with specific instructions for each and everyone involved in DR. When a disaster occurs, each individual should be ready to take charge of the responsibility as per his role in the DR process.
Moreover, every instruction should be clearly stated on paper, with the finest details mentioned.
These steps ensure the effectiveness of the DR plan.
Step 7: Test Your DR Plan Often
Since your DR plan is on paper, the next step would involve testing your DR plan and more often. This helps ensure that there are no loopholes.
On paper, the plan may look like the most comprehensive one, but you will know its credibility only after testing.
Your first test may not go as likely as you thought it would be, it may be worse. But then you will learn from these experiences and will upgrade your DR plan to better brace up your infrastructure against potential disasters.
The bigger your DR plan, the more important it becomes to test it.
Coming to the frequency of your tests, it is recommended that you run your DR tests on a quarterly basis.
In the meanwhile, you can monitor and analyze your backup infrastructure performance on a daily or weekly basis.
Your organization will always be a witness to change in terms of people, processes and technologies. Its good to test your DR plan throughout these changes to ensure that business is ever-ready for an emergency.
A complete knowledge on the industry’s best practices keeps your organization on a safer side. Have you identified your cloud platform? Looking for a trusted DRaaS provider?
Get in touch with Veritis to understand the various DR approaches and identify the one that suits your business requirement!