The cloud has quickly become the standard bearer of data protection, a title that may have been unfairly earned in the world of disaster recovery (DR). The arguments are numerous as to why the cloud makes sense as a depository of critical business data and the elements that make DR an attractive proposition for numerous organizations. However, the mere fact that data is protected and distributed across multiple regions, fails to provide adequate assurance that any DR solution must have. Those purveying cloud-only DR solutions are often ignoring one critical element for DR: time to recovery.
Traditionally, DR products have been implemented to help an organization recover from a localized disaster, such as a server failure, data corruption, malicious activity, or other event that disrupts operations. Those events usually trigger the need to restore operations quickly and efficiently, so that the impact on business is minimized.
Therein lies the real conundrum, how to maximize the speed of recovery. Take for example the typical cloud-based backup solution where data is streamed to a cloud storage service. The concept proves adequate for most use cases, where recovery speed isn’t a concern and works well for archival purposes.
In that cloud-only scenario, speedy recovery becomes a major issue. Simply put, recovery speed is throttled by bandwidth. Consider the common practice of using backup images to protect critical systems. Those images, which are compressed, can be several gigabytes in size. Although saving those images to a cloud-hosted solution can be done over an extended amount of time, recovery of those images can take hours to download from a cloud host, something that becomes problematic when speed is of the essence. That said, it becomes clear that the cloud is less than suitable as the only means to recover from a disaster. However, one cannot deny the fact that the cloud proves to be an excellent resource when a disaster entails loss of a facility.
Thanks to weather events, fires, natural disasters, and countless other situations, a loss of a facility can be an all-too-real occurrence, creating an IT disaster of much greater magnitude than most organizations are readily capable of dealing with. However, the cloud proves to be a valuable ally in those extreme cases, as long as the data, applications, and line of business capabilities have been backed up. The geographical diversity of the cloud ensures that data and applications are protected from localized disasters.
Yet, many businesses do not encounter loss of facility scenarios, and more often fall prey to data corruption or hardware failures. Here, a cloud-centric DR solution tends to fail miserably, often requiring days to retrieve and restore data.
Nevertheless, organizations need not be constrained by the limitations of the cloud or the limitations of localized DR solutions. There is another approach that offers the best of both worlds, without any of the negatives.
The Hybrid Approach
By combining the technologies of onsite backup with cloud-based storage, a hybrid methodology can be achieved to meet multiple DR needs, while also offering archival and remote storage solutions. The hybrid approach to DR consists of an on-site backup appliance, coupled with cloud-based storage. The on-site appliance is able to back up and replicate data at line speed, and then over time stream that back up data to the cloud.
Better backup appliances incorporate virtualization technologies, which allow the appliance to temporarily take the place of a failed server, meaning that operations can be recovered in a matter of minutes, while technical staffers pursue a more permanent solution for the failed system. What’s more, once faulty equipment is replaced, the restoration of data takes only a few minutes, thanks to the localization of the data and the low latency of the local network.
The hybrid approach can also introduce efficiencies into the backup process, especially when storing archival data is a must. Older backups can be migrated to the cloud, freeing up space on the appliance and helping to establish archival management, enabling organizations to meet compliance and other needs.
For organizations that still use on-premise IT, as well as the cloud, the only DR solution that makes sense is a hybrid one, where flexibility and long-term storage needs are met, while preparing that organization to recover from most any disaster.
Learn more about how a hybrid approach can help you meet your customers’ DR needs.