Look to the Cloud for Disaster Protection (Jaclyn Mispagel Commentary)

by Jaclyn Mispagel  on Monday, Mar. 18, 2013 12:00 am  

Jaclyn Mispagel

Disaster can hit a business at any time. Internally, an employee can open a corrupt file and send the network into dysfunction, compromising important company data. Externally, Arkansas’ spring season might bring a tornado that causes major damage to a business or a severe rainstorm that floods a company, washing away years of records and classified information.

Scenarios like these can be catastrophic to any business and provide even more reason to be prepared with a proper disaster recovery plan. Surprisingly, only 50 percent of small to medium-sized businesses have such plans in place. In fact, only 23 percent of companies back up their data daily. When faced with a disaster — regardless of size or scope — these businesses risk losing the ability to function effectively or maybe even at all. But with a solid disaster recovery plan, a business can be back up and running within hours — with all data intact.

The movement toward storing data in the cloud has changed the way businesses are planning for disaster recovery. The expensive, ineffective days of copying data to tapes and then transporting them off-site linger, but more businesses are beginning to tap the power of the cloud — and are seeing the benefits. With fully managed Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), businesses of all sizes, from small to enterprise, find viable and affordable recovery options.

DRaaS allows businesses to avoid the costs of investing in an off-site building. The cloud permits the use of multiple geographic locations, so data is available wherever and whenever it is needed. For example, businesses all over the East Coast can leverage a data center right here in Little Rock, and vice versa.

Companies that do already have a disaster recovery solution in place should ensure it is fully tested annually. But without the help of a service provider, testing can become an enormous undertaking, so many businesses just don’t test — 28 percent of them, in fact. And often when businesses do attempt disaster recovery testing, they find their backed-up data is unusable or corrupt. With DRaaS, data is continuously replicated and stored in the cloud in near real-time, and replication efforts are constantly monitored. Through partnering with a reliable disaster recovery service provider, businesses can be confident that important data will remain safe.

Storing data in the cloud relieves IT or other personnel of the burden of physically transporting backups, beginning the disaster recovery process by manually rebuilding servers and loading backup files. Instead, the data and applications are stored and mirrored off-site, and server recovery is managed by the DRaaS service provider. Due to the cloud’s efficiency, businesses are able to recover data in a matter of a few hours, not days.

In addition to the faster recovery times, DRaaS offers other key benefits to organizations. These include:

  • Increased functionality for less cost. There is little to no upfront investment required, and the recurring cost for the service is minimized due to provider-managed oversubscription and economies of scale.
  • Easier, more frequent and less expensive testing. With DRaaS, the bulk of the burden of testing is on the service provider.
  • More flexibility. DRaaS gives businesses the ability to adapt to a changing IT environment and evolving business needs. As the company grows, so does the scale of its DRaaS.
  • Pay-as-you-go options. DRaaS customers pay per protected service, which optimizes disaster recovery spending. Customers can start by protecting a handful of critical servers and grow over time.

All companies must protect their data, and with the presence of hosted solutions such as DRaaS, the best disaster recovery solutions are now available for every business. Since DRaaS solutions are managed by service providers, small to medium-sized businesses no longer have the burden of hardware and software upkeep. This benefit, in addition to the cost savings provided, allows companies to focus on more immediate issues affecting day-to-day operations, leaving the safety of its data in the hands of qualified and certified professionals.

Jaclyn Mispagel is a senior consultant for cloud and managed services at Windstream Corp. of Little Rock, a provider of advanced network communications.



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