StorageShort: Disaster Recovery – Secondary Site vs. Public Cloud

During a disaster everyone needs a place to go, including an organization’s applications and data. Ideally that “place” is prepared. For decades the only real decision for IT was just how prepared would the DR site be? Options ranged from 100% ready (hot-site) to available but work needed to be done prior to the site becoming the temporary data center (cold-site). Now, though, there is a new option on the market; the cloud, which promises the readiness of the hot site at the cost of a cold site.

In this StorageShort, we discuss the various DR site options available to IT:

The Value of the Second Site

While the option of using the cloud for disaster recovery purposes captures a lot of attention, using a secondary site owned by the organization still has a lot of value. First, the site is theirs. The organization doesn’t have to worry if the site can support the simultaneous DR requests of 100 other organizations or how security in the public cloud will work. All of the variables are under IT control. Mission critical servers can have dedicated systems waiting for them and data can be continuously replicated to those dedicated systems. Other data can be backed up and stored on local appliances to be recovered as time and need requires.

But the second site is an expense, a big expense. Why? First, the facility itself has to be data center quality. It can’t be a broom closet in a remote sales office. A managed hosting facility can circumvent some of the cost, but in either situation it will be a noticeable part of the IT budget for years to come.

Second, mission-critical systems have to have equivalent servers and storage systems waiting for them. The organization needs to buy this equipment upfront, even though, in most cases, they will be sitting idle. Those systems will need maintenance. The second site typically also needs staffing to keep those systems up to date and confirm replication processes are running.

The Cloud for DR

For these reasons, backup and replication solutions are leveraging the cloud. Backups or replication jobs are sent to cloud storage, which can be bought incrementally. Then, if there is a disaster, many of these solutions will leverage the available compute capabilities of the cloud to start the organization’s applications.

The cloud for DR is advantageous in that it does not require that the organization outlay a huge amount of budget upfront buying facilities and the hardware that has to go in those facilities.

There are downsides, however. The organization needs to spend time making sure networking after failover works so users automatically access the application they were using. Also, there is some additional security risk, especially if the DR location is a public cloud provider. Finally, it may be more difficult or slower to fail-back after the disaster has passed.

But the cost savings is a HUGE upside for most organizations, and an increasing number of organizations are choosing the cloud as their DR site.

Hybrid DR Sites?

When developing a strategy it makes sense to identify solutions that can do both. The organization can then move some application’s DR site to the cloud but keep another at their secondary site. While not eliminating the cost of the secondary site it does lower it significantly.

Learn More

Choosing the right high availability and backup software is critical to deciding how much of the cloud the organization can leverage for DR. In our webinar, “Finding Your Data Protection Sweet Spot”, we discuss how to accomplish this. Register and watch the webinar now and we will send you our latest e-Book “How to Protect Mission Critical Systems”.

Eight years ago George Crump, founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal. To educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is and a heavily sought after public speaker. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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