Traditional or Cloud-based Disaster Recovery: Does It Matter?

July 26, 2018
Disaster Recovery

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Increasingly, companies recognize that without a disaster recovery (DR) plan, they could potentially lose valuable data, revenue, customers, and more if they are unable to quickly recover from a business-disrupting event.  Developing that plan, however, isn’t always easy. There are a number of factors to consider, including whether to go with a traditional or cloud-based DR solution. 

The Traditional DR Backup Option

Traditional DR can be as simple as backing up data to disks or tapes and manually taking them off-site where they can be stored until needed. At the other end of the complexity spectrum is maintaining a complete remote data center where data and applications are replicated on dedicated backup servers and storage, and data, applications and systems configurations can all be restored.

At first glance, backing up data to disk or tape seems like a good option for keeping data safe until it’s needed in the event of a disaster. It doesn’t require a lot of specialized equipment or expertise.

However, backup software and/or the backup media can fail. The disks or tape on which backups are saved aren’t free. The person responsible for backing up data can make mistakes.  The time between data backups can result in lost data.

In addition, tapes or disks stored on-site can be lost if a disaster strikes. Storing backups at an off-site location solves that problem, but a safe off-site location costs money. It also takes time to physically transport media to an off-site location, as well as to retrieve it and pull the information off. Data backup also doesn’t do anything for applications and system configurations — both of which are integral to disaster recovery.

That’s not to say backup doesn’t have its place. Use cases including keeping a copy of everything from the least important to most critical data for the purpose of compliance, and for pinpointing recovery of anything ranging from an employee’s emails for e-discovery to a deleted file from five years ago. But backup, in general, doesn’t make for a strong DR solution.

Off-site Data Centers for Traditional DR

Most companies going with traditional DR opt for a hot, warm or cold facility. A hot site is a fully equipped data center with servers that can be online within hours. It’s expensive but a great way to minimize downtime and data loss. A warm site provides basic infrastructure but requires some lead time to prepare servers and go online. It costs less than a hot site but the lead time required may not be worth it. A cold site has the basic infrastructure needed to run a data center, but little else. Equipment must be brought in and configured, which can take weeks to be operational. It’s the least expensive of the options if you can afford the down time.

Any of the aforementioned DR solutions require that the facility be located so that any regional disaster doesn’t affect both the production and DR sites.  However, data takes more time to travel longer distances. If you need synchronous replication to meet your RPO or RTO, the DR site will need to be in closer proximity to your production site. You’ll also need staff on hand to help with the DR solution implementation. 

Cloud-based DR

With cloud-based DR, typically offered using the “as-a-service” model, the entire server, including the operating system (OS), applications, patches and data, is contained in a single virtual server. It can be copied or backed up to an off-site data center and spun up on a virtual host in minutes. The virtual server is hardware independent, so the OS, applications, patches and data can be safely and accurately transferred from one data center to another without reloading each server component.  This makes backup between locations fast and more cost effective than other options.

There’s also no need to invest in a remote DR facility. Ongoing operating expenses are lowered because you don’t have to pay to power and cool remote equipment. Capacity and performance can be allocated on demand, so you only pay for the resources consumed. Because the cloud is designed for remote management, it speeds up recovery. Compared to on- or off-site media-based DR, which can be cumbersome and expensive, such capabilities can make routine testing more practical too, helping to ensure the DR solution works when needed.

The Bottom Line

There’s no right or wrong DR solution. Both traditional and cloud-based DR solutions have advantages and disadvantages. It’s a matter of what works best for your organization’s needs.   

To help make that determination, call on US Signal. Our solution architects cam assess your environment — including the entire IT stack — and right-fit data protection solutions that align with your business requirements for off-site location, media type, application, hardware, RPO/RTO, and cost. Our team can even take on the management and monitoring of your backup and data recovery services, freeing your staff to focus on more strategic endeavors. 

Go with US Signal’s Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution, and our team will also  work with you to create a regularly tested and updated DR playbook, helping to ensure things work the way they are supposed to work. Plus, US Signal data protection services are backed by SLAs for infrastructure availability and professional services response time.

For more information on DR solutions, download our free Guide to DR Planning.  Or, call us at 866.2. SIGNAL or email: [email protected] to discuss your DR needs with a US Signal solution architect.