February 21, 2019

Implement Effective Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery in Four Phases

Cloud-based platforms are the perfect solution for effective disaster recovery, but if you are to maximize business uptime and minimize disruption, your implementation must be equally effective.

Having a roadmap for your setting up, maintaining and monitoring your disaster recovery solution will give you peace of mind your critical business information is safeguarded while leveraging the cost-benefits cloud-based backup provides.

Phase 1: What data, whose data, and when do you want to get it back

If you don’t already have cloud-based backup or a disaster recovery plan in place, your knee-jerk reaction might be to simply back up everything. But that’s not a cost-effective way of consuming cloud-based storage, and it robs of you of the opportunity to understand what data you need to store, what stakeholders may be affected if data is lost and how quickly you need to get it back before your business and customers are disrupted.

You need to inventory all the data your cloud-based disaster recovery activities will protect, keeping mind not all business information is created equal. Data archived to meet compliance and regulatory commitments should be replicated off-site, but applications and information that support regular day-to-day operations should take priority. You need set out your recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) to make sure there’s no gaps when your roll your disaster recovery system.

You can garner a better understand of what assets are essential to maximizing business uptime through stakeholder consultation—everyone in the business can provide insight into what applications and data must be protected. You also need to get them onboard once you make your decisions as to what your disaster recovery goals are so they can be part of the solution. How they interact with applications and manipulate business information every day plays a role in data protection and supporting your cloud-based disaster recovery implementation.

Understanding your data, where it’s stored, who uses and how quickly you must recovery it and associated applications is critical to the planning and design process, a process you will want to allocation sufficient time and resources to—expect there to be a little trial and error as you align your solution with business requirements and existing infrastructure, and test several times to make sure it’s ready to go into production.

Phase 2: Selecting the right platform from the right partner

Once you understand all your requirements from both a business and technology perspective, you’re able to choose the right cloud-based disaster recovery solution.

While you may still want to do some on-premise backups, ideally, it’s helpful if you can unify the technology for both on-premise and the cloud as it simplifies your disaster recovery processes. This is where the right partner can advise you. They can apply their experience working with multiple customers and backup solutions and recommend the best cloud-based disaster recovery solution for your needs.

However, you’re not just evaluating the technologies that back up and restore data, you’re also evaluating the cloud provider’s infrastructure and track record. Not only should they understand your business goals, RPOs and RTOs, but mirror those requirements in any Service Level Agreement (SLA). They should also be able to produce relevant certifications and be able to articulate clear policies around how the manage data and meet

Phase 3: Test and test again before implementing

Having settled on the technology solution and the cloud provider who will deliver it and store your backups, you need to make sure it’s working.

Setting up a proof of concept before going into production enables you to kick the tires and run through some likely scenarios to verify that your cloud-based disaster recovery is meeting the business goals, as well as your RPOs and RTOs. The value of any solution comes down to how quickly and easily you can restore data and applications while minimizing disruption to your business operations and customers.

The good news as if you take the time to evaluate your requirements, technologies and providers, the implementation will go quickly and smoothly.

Phase 4: Cloud-based disaster recovery is not a one and done

Disaster recovery plans are living documents which must be adjusted and tweaked regularly to reflect changes in the business, whether it’s staff turnover, application upgrades or data migration.

This means you should be testing your cloud-based disaster recovery processes regularly to make sure they are in fact backing up the right data and applications to the right location so that they can be easily restored in event of disaster. You should run your solution through its paces once a month and after any major transformation to your IT infrastructure.

In addition, you need to keep up to date on product patches and updates. If you’ve partnered with a cloud provider who’s providing the backup solution and off-site infrastructure, this will be in their wheelhouse. An SLA should cover what their responsibilities are, and updates should ideally be done weekly, or immediately in the event known threats such as ransomware, malware or other security holes.

Disaster recovery is like anything else in business: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. To effectively update and adaption your chosen solution, you should always be assessing its performance. Regular reports will allow you to understand of you are meeting the objectives you set out when you start your journey to cloud-based disaster recovery.

By treating disaster recovery as an ongoing activity rather than a one-time IT initiative, you can effectively leverage the cloud to safeguard data and applications. More importantly, you minimize disruption when disaster strikes.