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For disaster recovery, there are better options than secondary data centers

Disaster recovery is a headache that every IT department has suffered and in this arena, as in so many others, the cloud offers a better choice, says Laz Vekiarides. In fact, not only is a secondary data center for DR no longer needed, it’s actually no longer a sustainable option...

The days of the secondary data center / centre are numbered, and that is a good thing for the enterprises that have struggled to build them, fund them and maintain them solely for disaster recovery purposes. When on-premises disaster recovery was the only option, IT teams had no choice but to grit their teeth and take on the cost and resource burdens of physical secondary data centers. Today, though, the growing cloud adoption rate and availability of cloud-forward co-location providers have transformed the data center world. One result: the industry has more efficient and cost-effective choices, including hybrid cloud DR.

Key questions to ask before moving DR to the cloud

Nothing is easy in IT, and no data center leader should believe promises about quick or simple transformations from on-prem secondary data centers to cloud or hybrid models. The move is a complex one, and the stakes are high. Before teams even begin to migrate their disaster recovery, they must carefully consider their IT strategies and their business needs.

Among the questions teams should ask before embarking on migration are these:

What will we gain from ditching our secondary data center?

Moving to a disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) option can save an enterprise about 50 percent over disaster recovery that relies on a secondary data center. Hybrid environments are also likely to offer more modern technology, presenting benefits like simpler infrastructure and access plans. Most importantly, organizations increase their ability to recover quickly and completely after a disaster, since their data is backed up to the cloud and stored in virtual machines.

What potential pitfalls will we face if we migrate our disaster recovery to the cloud?

While the benefits of DRaaS are clear, they’re not guaranteed for every enterprise. For example, the details buried in lengthy, complicated software license and support agreements can affect the timing and value of cloud migration projects. Enterprises must evaluate the details of replication licenses, backup and DR software licenses, and even WAN and other technology costs. Hidden expenses can also lurk in ramping up IT teams on new technology and processes, although a managed service provider knowledgeable in disaster recovery can help make this transition manageable. Finally, organizations must consider factors like their lease agreements for existing secondary data centers and how closing such facilities could incur penalties or other costs.

The benefits of the hybrid cloud for disaster recovery

Assuming the above pitfalls do not apply, IT leaders often find that closing secondary data centers in favor of hybrid, multi-cloud solutions leads to improved IT efficiency. Freed from vendor lock-in, companies can diversify their business across cloud providers to reduce costs, while also reducing the chances of catastrophic disasters tied to a single provider’s outage.  Further, the ability to choose from competing telecom carriers can help drive costs down even as the number of features and services goes up.

In disaster recovery, measuring success comes down to two metrics: Recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). Today’s businesses are more likely to report that downed IT resources start to significantly affect them in less than a minute, and that any kind of data loss is unacceptable. DR in the cloud can put RTO and RPO of less than a minute within reach, provided enterprises choose the right cloud partners.

A better choice for disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is a headache that every IT department has suffered. Traditionally, disaster recovery has required massive investments into technology that teams hope they will never or rarely need. But even for the companies that spend the time and resources required to build, manage, test and maintain their secondary data center sites for DR, their ability to recover from disasters from such facilities fail to live up to modern expectations of availability.

In this arena, as in so many others, the cloud offers a better choice. DR through as-a-service models can deliver the savings and performance IT leaders need. With RTO and RPO under a minute, cloud DR creates greater disaster readiness than enterprises can find in secondary data centers.

The author

Laz Vekiarides is the co-founder and CTO at ClearSky Data. For over 20 years, he has served in key technical and leadership roles to bring new technologies to market. Most recently, he served as the executive director of software engineering for Dell’s EqualLogic Storage Engineering group.



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