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Is your disaster recovery plan ready for cloud?

By Patrick Sweeney, Dell SonicWALL, special to Network World
September 12, 2012 10:47 AM ET

Network World - This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Having successfully piloted cloud usage with SaaS applications such as CRM and ERP, many businesses are now looking to replace traditional on-site backup and disaster recovery (DR) solutions with cloud-based DR. Gartner predicts that more than 30% of midsize companies will have adopted DR in the cloud or recovery-as-a-service by 2014. That begs the question: Is your business ready to make the leap?

Implementing traditional DR solutions typically involves overcoming a number of hurdles. First, they can be difficult for overburdened IT staff to deploy, configure and administer. Moreover, some require the complex integration, coordination and scheduling of disparate systems at multiple backup sites.

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Traditional solutions can also be difficult to budget. They often require significant upfront capital expenditures for hardware, software and network infrastructure, duplicated across multiple sites. And, once established, they can be costly to scale incrementally. Additionally, these multiple infrastructures must be managed and maintained, adding to administrative overhead costs.

Yet another traditional concern with DR is uncertainty. Many DR administrators simply do not know if they can rely on being able to recover the data they back up.

All else considered, the worst DR is no DR. Yet the awful truth is that most companies have found it difficult to get any DR plan or solution off the ground.

Cloud-based DR services have the potential to address many of these concerns. First of all, they are inherently easy to use and manage, as they are typically deployed as turnkey solutions, with the back end hosted and managed by the provider.

Because they operate in virtualized environments, they are generally easier to scale as needed, providing more deployment flexibility, and future-proofing against unanticipated growth. This scalability also provides broader DR options (such as supplementing or enhancing VMware, NAS or bare-metal recovery solutions), thus enabling a best-fit deployment.

Perhaps most importantly, by making the process easier, they can enable overburdened IT organizations to actually get a DR solution deployed in the first place.

Using cloud services can also be more budget-friendly. By eliminating significant hardware costs, they cut out large upfront capital expenses. Instead, DR becomes a flexible, pay-as-you-go operating expense, where companies only pay for the capacity they consume, and can fine-tune or terminate services altogether on demand.

Recovery-as-a-service can also help assure reliability. With no upfront investment, it is easier to test a solution before adoption. Moreover, cloud-based DR technology has matured to the point of providing reliable quality of service and uptime levels, as well as cloud-based validation of backed-up data.

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