IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

As organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to respond to changing climate related risks, the need for cloud infrastructure geo-redundancy, as part of an enterprise-wide disaster recovery strategy, has never been greater. Terry Storrar explains why this is the case.

Today’s organizations are investing in cloud infrastructure to optimise the availability, reach and scalability of their IT services around the globe. They are also increasingly making use of hybrid cloud infrastructure to secure production workloads and protect against corporate infrastructure failures.

So far, so good. However, moving infrastructure to the cloud and away from a company site is not the whole story. Because there will still need to be backup plans in place to cope with any unexpected disruptions that may be on the horizon.

To achieve this, business continuity and disaster recovery professionals will need to work hand in glove with their IT colleagues to assure a truly robust enterprise-wide disaster recovery strategy.

Examining the case for geo-redundancy

With IT services playing such a foundational role in today’s enterprise operations, protecting corporate infrastructure against failures starts with failover plans designed around physical components and hardware systems. It also requires the creation of highly available clusters, featuring the highest possible level of protection, that will mitigate against the failure of an entire data centre / center.
Having migrated parts of their IT to the cloud, all too often it’s assumed that everything is in place to assure the fast recovery of critical systems. However, mutually securing private and public clouds won’t mitigate against vulnerabilities that may impact the physical location of the cloud infrastructure itself.

Many business continuity specialists are already having to adapt disaster plans to cope with the increasing frequency of extreme climate events that have the potential to disrupt power grids, fuel supplies, and more. Indeed, the risk factors with regard to heatwaves, storms, and flooding have risen so dramatically in recent years that many data centre managers now view climate change as a priority issue.

This is why geographical redundancy (geo-redundancy) for cloud infrastructure increasingly represents a critical component of any business continuity strategy.

Adopting a global mindset

Companies that adopt a cloud-first or global data centre and network strategy need a geo-redundant approach to run their cloud infrastructure with low latency. Enabling companies to move workloads between locations as needed, geo-redundancy ensures that companies can plan strategies that ensure they are operationally secure.

Whether operating a main data centre at their own HQ or working with an IaaS provider, companies can leverage geo-redundancy to respond quickly to local failures, such as a natural disaster or power outage, by sitting secondary sites at a distance anywhere from 50km to over 200k away. With a little smart thinking, it’s also possible to ensure that the network and numerous data centre locations worldwide are protected.

The upside of all this is that, in addition to boosting disaster resilience, initiating a geo-redundant powered intelligent IT architecture will also deliver significantly enhanced scalability and operational performance. Making it possible to move workloads within geo-redundant locations whenever the situation requires. Whether that’s meeting regional demand peaks or redirecting workloads during periods of planned infrastructure maintenance.

Benefiting from a streamlined approach

When organizations operate their own virtual infrastructure in the data centre and hybrid cloud, they have two ‘providers’ to consider, the cloud partner and their own IT team. If they also make use of the public cloud, that adds further providers into the mix. This type of multi-stakeholder strategy represents a risky approach. One that involves significant administrative effort along with compatibility problems and higher costs. But that’s not the only challenge.

Only a limited number of cloud and IaaS companies are able to provide tailored and low latency geo-redundancy solutions worldwide that offer a direct connection between data centres. It’s especially a problem for hyperscale public cloud providers that are unable to offer this kind of flexibility when asked to deliver beyond their standard PaaS services. Added to this, because they lack a European corporate HQ, these cloud providers are unable to provide the native data protection that EU companies need.

For this strategy to be bulletproof, decision-makers will need to be assured that each data centre location utilised to enable a geo-redundant solution is ISO 2701, PCI DSS and SOC1 certified.

By opting for a geo-redundant, secured, single provider for cloud and hosting services, companies will be able to ensure they can operate their cloud infrastructure globally and securely and in compliance with local legal requirements.

Seamless business continuity and disaster recovery

Today’s organizations need to leverage a high-availability cloud strategy that supports hassle-free disaster recovery. Geo-redundancy both minimises the risk of downtime and maximises uptime by duplicating IT infrastructure and making it simultaneously available in two or more data centres located in different regions. This means that recovery will be fast and assured, should an unplanned disruption or disaster occur.

The author

Terry Storrar is Managing Director at Leaseweb UK.

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