Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant | 1/18/2012 | 14 comments

Pablo Valerio
Based on the popular demand for virtualization of critical applications, cloud computing could be the best solution for disaster recovery (DR) in a virtual environment. But, as many surveys suggest, corporations are still reluctant to rely on the cloud for their entire DR strategies.

Virtualization has been growing steadily in the last 10 years. According to VMWare, over 20 million virtual machines are running vSphere, and that number is growing. And, while 23 percent of the installed applications were running in a virtual machine in 2010, Gartner estimates that over 48 percent of them will run on a VM this year. Also, SMBs are moving faster to virtualization and cloud computing, going from 0 percent to 100 percent virtualization very quickly.

But DR is still considered another issue. While SMBs are moving everything to the cloud, large corporations are not entirely confident that this is the best solution for DR. It takes a lot of courage to rely on an external cloud to secure data. Most IT departments are moving DR to the cloud in small steps, always keeping a backup at home. And it makes sense, especially if the cloud vendor's servers are located in the same datacenter as virtualization servers are. If a crisis occurs, it might affect the entire cloud infrastructure.

In a survey conducted last year, Neverfail Group -- an Austin, Texas-based global software company providing data protection, high availability, and disaster recovery solutions -- found that 26 percent of respondents were unsure of cloud platforms as a viable DR option, and a further 30 percent won't consider a cloud infrastructure for protecting their IT resources.

"It's clear that many businesses remain wary about the stability of cloud-based infrastructures as disaster recovery platforms. Without access to business resources, severe financial implications and reputational damage are very real consequences, as well as long, drawn out processes in getting users back online," said Bob Roudebush, VP of marketing at Neverfail.

"An interesting observation from this survey is the high numbers of businesses running tier one applications on virtual machines, supporting an industry trend that suggests end-users are using virtualization as a stepping stone to adopting cloud services. Nevertheless, companies continue to need advice on how to protect their critical applications. By re-thinking availability strategies as infrastructure changes are instigated, IT decision makers can ensure that a good level of resiliency is in place to avoid any downtime, allowing businesses to focus attention on delivering excellent standards of service to their own customers."

There is no universal medicine for moving disaster recovery to the cloud, and most corporations are contemplating different solutions. It is clear that choosing a long-term strategy is better than experimenting with temporary solutions.

But, as critical applications are being virtualized and moved to the cloud, it is imperative to prepare for the fact that DR will move to the cloud at some point.

Do you use a cloud platform for DR? What are your plans to move it to the cloud in the near future?

View Comments: Threaded | Newest First | Oldest First
David Wagner   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/18/2012 2:01:14 PM
So What is the Best Solution
Pablo, i can totally see why an enterprise would be reluctant to adopt cloud DR. But if you were being entirely objective, is it better than other DR solutions? I would think it would be except I'd be worried about whether they could handle large scale issues when an entire region is faced with a natural disaster or something. Could they handle everyone switching at once? They're supposed to be able to, but has this been tested?
Sara Peters   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/18/2012 5:01:34 PM
Re: So What is the Best Solution
This is a bit puzzling to me. I'd think that disaster recovery would be one of the primary reasons to use the cloud. I wonder... are these people who are NOT using cloud for DR still using the cloud for other purposes, or are they not using the cloud at all?
Pablo Valerio   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/19/2012 12:06:49 PM
Re: So What is the Best Solution
@Sara, Virtualization on the cloud is a reality and most companies are embracing it, either on a private cloud or using a cloud provider.

I can see the reasoning of CIOs not using the cloud as a primary DR option. It is like the military using ceramic casing for CPUs and special batteries, you don't want those devices to fail in the battlefield.

Similary CIOs treat DR backups as special vaults that should wistand a nuclear attach, and having them onlile on the cloud is still risky. 
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kstaron   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/18/2012 3:48:04 PM
Multiple backups
It strikes me that cloud computing might be one option, but when we are talking about backups, I wouldn't rely on cloud computing alone.  (Or any other option for that matter.) Having multiple backups in multiple places seems the best way to go. What is your ideal DR option?
Broadway   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/18/2012 8:07:22 PM
Re: Multiple backups
The cloud does not provide a visceral enough sense of relief. You need backups in servers that you own, or better yet, tape stored in some vault somewhere off-site, to get it.
CurtisFranklin   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/18/2012 10:52:10 PM
Re: Multiple backups
@Broadway wrote:

The cloud does not provide a visceral enough sense of relief.

I think this comment is spot-on. People want to "feel good" about what will happen if they ever have to hit the big red "recover" button. If they don't get that feeling from something labeled cloud computing, they're going to use something else, regardless of the technological merits of one or the other.
CurtisFranklin   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/18/2012 10:33:52 PM
Re: Multiple backups
@kstaron wrote:

Having multiple backups in multiple places seems the best way to go.

I absolutely agree. The thing is, it seems to me this would be far easier to achieve in the cloud than in on-site tape backups. I'm convinced that one part of the problem is that we still haven't (as an industry) agreed on a single definition of "cloud computing." People are reluctant to trust their business to a technology they can't really define -- and I don't know that I blame them. I'd be willing to bet that the companies that have done the most with the cloud are the ones that have best defined it to their own satisfaction.
Hospice_Houngbo   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/18/2012 10:56:34 PM
Re: Multiple backups
Having multiple backups in multiple places seems the best way to go.

But this betrays the cost saving aspect we use to associate cloud computing with. Why not jsut store  "one" secure duplicate copy on premises then?
Broadway   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/19/2012 10:15:39 PM
Re: Multiple backups
@Hospice, I think that secure duplicate copy would be secure off-site...way off-site. Imagine yourself an enterprise in Florida. Hurricane comes, you don't want your duplicate anywhere near the water and wind. You want it in Nevada. Then maybe have another duplicate in the clouds...just in case.
fbpmt   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/29/2012 2:25:51 PM
Re: Multiple backups
Multiple backups is an audit requirement, and remote locations storage for backups is a primary requirement when designing a DR plan.

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PamR   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/19/2012 11:31:22 PM
Re: Multiple backups
And there's something comforting about knowing you can reach out and touch a backup, regardless of the cost, don't you think? There's something about the word "cloud" that suggests that, poof, it could all be gone. I'm not saying it's rational but the word evokes a certain ephemeral nature.
fbpmt   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/29/2012 2:27:25 PM
Re: Multiple backups
@PamR - besides "touching" the data, we do not know where our data is on the cloud - that is, which country, location, etc. And as Curtis points out, this would be even more risky, depending on the nature of the data!
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Broadway   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/29/2012 9:07:21 PM
Re: Multiple backups
@PamR, that's an excellent point. Perhaps the cloud computing industry needs a brand makeover ... cloud perhaps was an inappropriate choice. Perhaps brick computing? Ocean computing? 
PamR   Cloud Computing Still Not a Disaster Recovery Option for Some   1/29/2012 9:33:55 PM
Re: Multiple backups
Vault. Vault computing. Sounds more secure than cloud, don't you think? I have now thought for about 60 seconds about alternatives to cloud.

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