5 Reasons the Cloud Should be Part of Your Disaster Recovery Strategy

Think of how long you could manage without a paycheck. Now think how long your company could manage without revenue. Then think about how crippled your business would be if a disaster took your computers off line. Recovering from a computer outage isn't hypothetical. According to the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, more than a third of businesses lost at least one critical application, server, or file for several hours in 2014; nearly 20 percent lost a critical application for days; and 25 percent lost a significant part of their data center for at least a few hours.

The costs of that unplanned downtime can total millions of dollars. A reliable disaster recovery plan is crucial to a business's minimizing the downtime and those costs. IT Service Management using the cloud can be a key element of that plan. Here are five reasons to make the cloud part of your disaster recovery strategy.

1. The cloud is cost effective.

Disaster recovery requires a secondary, backup environment that isn't used except in case of disaster. Maintaining a second data center is expensive, and it's difficult to justify all that unused capacity. Unlike having your own data center, with cloud computers you pay only for the machines and storage you use. You don't have to pay for machines that never come out of standby mode.

2. Geography doesn't matter.

Disasters tend to be local or regional. If you have your DR site across town, it may be vulnerable to the same disaster that knocked out your primary site. When you have your DR facility in the cloud, you don't need to worry about the server location. Cloud providers typically maintain highly redundant facilities removed from disaster-prone locations. You don't care where the servers are located because the cloud makes everything accessible from everywhere.

3. The backup process is reliable.

Being able to locate backups and restore data is a crucial part of any disaster recovery plan, but most companies don't test the process. A crisis is the wrong time to discover that you failed to backup a critical server or application. Cloud providers have solid, tested backup and restore processes.

4. Recovery is fast and easy.

Provisioning in the cloud is designed to be fast and easy, with self-service features allowing new servers to be brought up on demand. Bringing servers online during a crisis follows a simple, standardized process.

5. Your staff is freed up to focus on critical business needs.

Building and supporting a secondary data center used only for DR purposes is a burden on your IT staff. While disaster recovery is a critical function, it's not critical on a day-to-day basis. By offloading the responsibility for maintaining a DR environment to a cloud provider, your IT staff gains time to focus on issues that affect the normal functioning of your business.

Once you've decided to incorporate the cloud into your disaster recovery plans, you need to decide how you'll use it most effectively. Options include Disaster Recovery as a Service where the cloud provider manages the recovery process, using Infrastructure as a Service where the cloud provider supports the DR environment but you manage the recovery process, and using Backup as a Service, which simply stores backups in the cloud.

Whichever solution you choose, be sure to test the process at least once every year to make sure you haven't overlooked anything. No matter how good the ITSM or cloud provider is, the DR plan can only succeed if it covers all your critical applications. Identifying those applications is one DR responsibility you can't offload.