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Moving towards a cloud-first strategy? Disaster recovery is a good first step...

Taking disaster recovery operations to the cloud is a good first step in the journey towards becoming  a ‘cloud-first’ organization says Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn, highlighting three potential routes to achieve cloud DR.

Across the globe, we are in a newly remote business landscape, and because of this it’s more important than ever that organizations remain available 24/7. This leaves IT organizations with the task of meeting ‘always on’ expectations with, often, less financial and human resources than normal. 

In this environment, IT professionals are keen to explore cost-savings with modern cloud solutions. Significant cost and efficiency gains are achievable, but it is crucial that organizations implement a cloud strategy and adoption plan that works best for their business. Moreover, this plan needs to happen in a manner that maintains the IT resilience needed to achieve the goal of being ‘always on’.

“If you have not developed a cloud-first strategy yet, you are likely falling behind your competitors,” explains Elias Khnaser, VP Analyst at Gartner in the 6 Steps for Planning a Cloud Strategy blog. The benefits of a strategy such as this are clear, beyond just market position: driving business growth, reduced costs, enabling IT scalability, increasing agility, and accelerating innovation. However, there’s a measurable difference between declaring commitment to a cloud-first strategy and actually executing it. Taking disaster recovery (DR) operations to the cloud is a good first step in the journey towards achieving both IT cost savings and IT resilience.

If you were to look at those organizations which have successfully migrated their DR to the cloud, they tend to have common reasons for turning to the cloud. Typically, they are dealing with a high level of data growth and sprawl but have limited budget, time, and resources. The organization is perhaps transitioning from a CAPEX to OPEX-focused model and there is some sort of commitment to digital transformation, but on the flip side, they are struggling to consistently meet or exceed RTOs (recovery time objectives) and RPOs (recovery point objectives). 

Despite many organizations sharing these characteristics, it’s still vital to recognise that a one-size-fits-all cloud model simply doesn’t exist. But, there are a few ways to move DR to the cloud that can be achieved for a variety of company types: DR in the public cloud, VMware in the public cloud, and disaster recovery as a Service (DRaaS). Here, we look at those individually and the reasons why an organization might consider each of the routes:

DR to the Public Cloud

If it’s the lowest cost mode that an organization is looking for, then infrastructure as a service (IaaS) with public cloud providers is the best option. Migrating DR to one of these platforms, replacing a physical, secondary site, results in a drastic reduction of capital expenditures and resource requirements for maintenance, day-to-day operations, and upgrades. And the ability to meet data protection demands with this hands-off, offsite storage makes adhering to the common 3-2-1 backup rule, where organizations should make three copies of their data available on two different media with one stored offsite, an easier and more affordable reality.
As your business needs evolve and change, public cloud providers have on-demand resources to keep up with your data growth in a way that is probably much faster and easier than you could do on your own. With a variety of network servers available via AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and others, the organization can ensure against failure in a way that’s difficult to achieve otherwise.

VMware on public cloud

When it comes to VMWare environments, enterprises have a lot of added complexities, including applications that are not well-suited for traditional IaaS or direct migration. Historically, this is where the road ended for large companies that were, understandably, unwilling to dedicate the time and resources to re-architecting their applications and configurations. However, Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud now have options available for migrating and protecting native workloads all while keeping VMware policies and configurations as if on-premises.

Because of this, organizations no longer need to re-architect applications, enabling DR migration to the cloud much faster and with minimal changes. Large organizations now have the freedom to take a step forward without the mind-bending complexity originally presented in their desire to adopt a cloud-based business continuity and/or disaster recovery strategy. 

DRaaS

The number one reason an organization adopts DRaaS according to Gartner is because DR capabilities were previously non-existent. Second to that, it’s because the organization is in need of improved recovery objectives or has DR capabilities limited to tape storage. Regardless of the reason, a company may be trying to assess what the big differences are between traditional DR and DRaaS. With DRaaS they gain a cloud partner – a dedicated resource to help meet RTO and RPO goals, to provide premium support and professional services and to offload BC/DR at a level of their comfort.

A DRaaS service provider takes over implementation, alleviating extra stress from the IT team. It also provides the option for customization. For example, if the organization has specific compliance requirements or self-service needs, achieving that level of specificity is possible with their DRaaS partner. Finally, DRaaS unlocks many of the benefits that come with public cloud adoption, like reliability and scaling with the 3-2-1 rule, but it also provides niche partner support that can help ensure mature business continuity and disaster recovery practices, and, ultimately, a more resilient IT infrastructure. As a result, the organization will achieve improved RTOs and RPOs and it will be significantly easier to test more often, all with little-to-no disruption to business operations.

Total economic impact

A lot of companies choose to move their DR to one cloud or another, ultimately for economic reasons. They’ve seen enough evidence from others’ successes and want to reap the rewards themselves. It’s also crucial to look for DR and data protection solutions that reduce the resources, infrastructure, staff, and time dedicated to these operations.

In a report from Forrester related to the ROI of implementing an IT resilience platform, significant figures come to light. According to this report, organizations that accomplish the DR-to-cloud transition, experienced the following benefits:

  • Reduced DR solutions from four to one and save $10 million;
  • Saved $800k in three years with DR to a public cloud;
  • Saw a 16x decrease in time spent on production support processes; and
  • Merged 21 data centers /centres into 6 in 36 months.

It is a natural progression to begin your cloud journey with the piece of your IT infrastructure that can tackle both constant availability and cost savings. Deploying business continuity and disaster recovery in the cloud will significantly reduce expenses and root a strong foundation of IT resilience that can be carried over into all other cloud initiatives. Plus, due to advancements in cloud that have developed over the last several years, especially the addition of VMware on public cloud to the marketplace, there are cloud disaster recovery options for organizations of all sizes.

The author

Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn is Director Technical Marketing at Zerto.



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