Downtime is Deadly – Is Your Data Ready for a Disaster?
Guest Blog: Bill Thompson, vice president of engineering for Virtacore. Bill Thompson manages Virtacore’s day-to-day technical operations. He brings over fifteen years of IT experience to the Company, with specialized expertise in Enterprise Systems Architecture and Design, Virtualization, and Information Systems Management.
Importance of Disaster Recovery Planning
Disaster recovery planning is integral for every business. However, what can a company do to prepare for a disaster when they don't control the IT configuration? This is becoming a common problem as cloud solutions become more popular. Having a technically advanced cloud infrastructure setup isn't enough, you need a vendor partnership with a vendor that is committed to excellence while offering flexibility and open lines of communication. Developing trust through a collaboration-driven relationship backed by industry certifications that verify resiliency is a good place to start.
The cost of unplanned downtime is severe. A 2013 Ponemon Institute study found that the average cost of unplanned outages is $627,418 per incident. If your cloud goes down, you could be facing heavy expenses and, if your SLA doesn't protect you against those costs, you better hope your budget has plenty of wiggle room. It probably doesn't.
Preparing for a disaster
Downtime is common, but Hurricane Sandy affected so many high-profile organizations that it left the IT world scrambling to figure out better ways to respond to any disaster. Shortly after the event, CIO magazine gathered reflections on how Sandy impacted companies and what organizations can do to get ready for the future.
One overwhelming theme of the report was a need to communicate effectively. Being able to reach vendors, update employees on the situation and collaborate about the best ways to get things running normally are all critical when faced with a disaster. During the hurricane, many organizations ran into trouble because they didn't have access to their usual communications services. Developing plans to document contacts and create Web access to status updates is critical in this area.
These tips speak directly to how an organization can prepare to be hit by a disaster. But how does this apply to data housed in the cloud?
Getting your cloud infrastructure ready for the worst
In theory, cloud hosting is a boon for disasters because it is available via the Web. All your workers need to do is get somewhere with Internet access and they can work or at least get critical updates. This doesn't always pan out in practice, and the difference is often a matter of vendor practices.
A recent Data Center Knowledge report explained that as cloud computing has matured, diversity between various services has increased. Technical and support diversity is common in the cloud, and customers need to be willing to demand more from their vendors.
The days of being given an SLA and little room to negotiate should be over. Advanced technologies and built-in redundancy are becoming a common factor across the cloud sector. Leading providers are starting to set themselves apart by being more responsive and focused on services, and it is time for customers to start expecting that level of commitment when subscribing to a cloud backup solution, the news source said.
This emphasis on customer-centric operations comes out most clearly when dealing with Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service. Just sticking your backup systems in a run-of-the-mill cloud isn't going to get the job done when disaster strikes. Instead, companies need a partner that is willing to collaborate on the nuances of a recovery plan, establish clear lines of communication and build customer protections into the SLA. Redundancy and advanced technologies are only the first step to preparing your cloud for a disaster. A good DRaaS partnership is the linchpin to success.