It will always be difficult to predict when a disaster will occur within the cloud infrastructure. Therefore, it is required to prepare a cloud disaster recovery (DR) plan that will enable restoring operations when disaster strikes the cloud. And a disaster could occur due to the failure of the cloud provider’s hardware, such as the data center fire that disrupted service to some Azure customers in 2017. It could be a consequence of a cyberattack that results in making the applications unavailable. This could also be due to accidental deletion of data by one of your admins.
You can’t know the exact nature of a cloud disaster until it has occurred. The only thing which you can do is prepare a disaster recovery plan, which will help in normalizing operations just after the occurrence of the disaster.
What is cloud disaster recovery?
Cloud disaster recovery is a service supporting cloud-based infrastructure and enables the backup as well as recovery of remote machines on a cloud-based platform. For disaster recovery, there are multiple plans. Out of all, one plan is to rely on on-premise infrastructure for backing up the workload. A cloud disaster recovery plan is one that makes use of public cloud such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform for backing up data, applications, and other resources. And when the disaster is done and dusted, the resources can be restored from the cloud to their original locations.
Why use cloud disaster recovery?
There are several key benefits of using cloud disaster recovery instead of other disaster recoveries.
1. It is scalable to a large extent compared to other disaster recoveries. There is a major possibility of increasing the amount of resources you can back up in the cloud by purchasing more cloud infrastructure capacity.
2. You can pay for cloud disaster recovery infrastructure whenever you use it. There is no need to invest upfront in the hardware plans or pay for infrastructure plans for months or years that you don’t use at the given point of time.
3. It also allows leveraging of geographic redundancy features. Elaborately, you can spread the backed-up resources across multiple regions, which will help in maximizing the availability, even if a part of cloud fails.
Best practices in disaster recovery in cloud model
The DR model in cloud strategy should be tailor-made to specific business requirements and industry regulations. Before developing the one for your business, take a closer look at some of the best practices.
Risk analysis and documentation
The primary and most important step is to create priorities for assets, systems, and applications. It is essential to perform a detailed risk analysis and prioritize the criticality of IT assets such as database, systems, and applications in terms of how important are assets to business availability and document each and every procedure. Though it might sound too simple, the prioritization helps to determine snapshots of processes, technical interdependencies, infrastructure, and configuration.
Architect your application
The architecture that is fully developed along with a road map, showing what all applications are likely to use which data and cloud center services, will help and contribute to future expansion.
Train IT staff on cloud DR plan
Usually, handling disaster recovery is the responsibility of a single person or department in the company. If any discrepancy arises, where a person gets sick or leaves the company, the company might not be able to do recovery documentation as no one knows how to do it. Therefore, it is essential to train and involve several people and departments on the backup and disaster recovery plan.
Write and review SLAs
A surprising number of cloud providers do not offer Service Level Agreements (SLAs). It would probably cover guarantee turnaround time for responses to questions, repair of problems, and meantime for recovery to disasters, etc. The only way and the right way to get what you want is to draft your own set of SLAs, which you can expect that the cloud provider will adhere to. As a part of the complete SLA process, some companies require a quarterly review of SLA performance with the vendor.
Constantly revise DR plan
There are times when a company can fail to update its disaster recovery plans when it outsources an application to the cloud or even when it is determined to use cloud as a backup and disaster recovery plan. Never forget to implement an update on the disaster recovery plan as a part of the process.
Test and test
Make a note of testing the plan with the cloud provider. Without testing, the plan will never have successful execution to back itself up. In the chaos, your untested plans will likely fail, and people won’t know what will work and whatnot. Test every small process and create a detailed explanation of everything correct and incorrect. These actions will help develop a mature plan over time, and the organization will never have to face revenue losses.
The specific approach you take while designing a cloud disaster recovery will depend on the need as well as the budget. In a situation when the database and infrastructure configurations are constant, and your RTO (recovery time objective) demand is not too much; a simple cloud backup and recovery strategy might work.
Anyway, whichever strategy you take, you will gain a number of benefits with an offsite (cloud) disaster recovery strategy. The overall cost remains way too less compared to the disaster recovery strategy that relies on on-premises infrastructure.