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Disaster Recovery On Demand Essential For SMEs

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There was a time when Disaster Recovery was mostly for companies running extremely mission critical applications like banks and stock exchanges. But then every business needs to have a DR strategy in place. As we've seen in recent years, natural disasters can lead to long-term downtime. Because earthquakes, hurricanes, snow storms, or other events can put datacenters and other corporate facilities out of commission for a while, it's vital that companies have in place a comprehensive disaster recovery (DR) plan.

Unfortunately, current DR services come either at a very high cost or with weak guarantees about the amount of data lost and time required in restarting operations after a failure. However, with cloud computing and virtualisation opening up a plethora of opportunities, business enterprises are discovering that a lot of applications can be availed as services, DR being no exception.

This has resulted in the emerging model of delivering Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) or DR as a cloud service or DR on demand. DRaaS as a model is gaining popularity among enterprises mainly due to its pay-as-you-go pricing model that can lower costs, and use of automated virtual platforms that can minimize the recovery time after a failure.

According to a recent IDC survey, data center managers are expected to allocate nearly 50 per cent of their budgets to running services in the cloud (public and private) by 2013. As a result cloud revolution continues, it's also becoming increasingly clear that more and more applications will be delivered "as a service.

A recent report on Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service also highlighted the negative impact of downtime on mid-sized companies and how DRaaS can be of any help to them. It also reported that Mid - sized enterprises have the highest number of downtime events as compared to other enterprises, about twice the number when compared to small enterprises and about 17% greater than large enterprises. Mid-sized organizations appeared to be gaining the IT complexity of large enterprises but don't have the financial and staffing resources of large companies to manage it.

Today, cloud-based DR is poised to shake up legacy approaches and has offered IT infrastructure and operations professionals a compelling alternative. Writing and testing a disaster recovery plan is one of the key elements of business continuity management. Traditionally business continuity and disaster recovery (DR) planning have always been separated between the business and the information technology department. It has long been recognised that this 'divide' creates more problems than it solves

Business continuity involves planning for keeping all aspects of a business functioning in the midst of disruptive events, disaster recovery mainly focuses on the IT or technology systems that support business functions. IT systems have become increasingly critical to the smooth operation of a company, and arguably the economy as a whole, the importance of ensuring the continued operation of those systems, and their rapid recovery, has increased.

Today, organizations may elect to use an outsourced disaster recovery provider to provide a stand-by site and systems rather than using their own remote facilities, increasingly via cloud computing. With cloud computing and virtualization opening up a plethora of opportunities, business enterprises are discovering that a lot of applications can be availed as services, DR being no exception.

Although the concept - and some of the products and services - of cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) is still nascent, some companies, especially smaller or mid-sized organisations, are discovering and starting to leverage cloud services for DR. Cloud based DR can be an attractive alternative for companies that are strapped for IT resources because the usage-based cost of cloud services is well suited for DR where the secondary infrastructure is parked and idling most of the time. Having DR sites in the cloud reduces the need for data center space, IT infrastructure and IT resources, which leads to significant cost reductions, enabling smaller companies to deploy disaster recovery options that were previously only found in larger enterprises.

The Benefits of Cloud-based DR can facilitate disaster recovery by significantly lowering costs, cloud resources can quickly be added with fine granularity and have costs that scale smoothly without requiring large upfront investments. The cloud platform manages and maintains the DR servers and storage devices, lowering IT costs and reducing the impact of failures at the disaster site.The cloud's pay-as-you go pricing model significantly lowers costs due to the different level of resources required before and during a disaster.

While evaluating disaster recovery as a service, there are some aspects which a company should check internally, as well as other factors which it should check with the service provider such as
  • Redundant Internet Connections:  The service provider must ensure that there are multiple network feeds from multiple carriers to maximum uptime with no single-point data transmission bottlenecks to or from the data centre.
  • Business Continuity: All the data from primary data centres must be mirrored, replicated and synchronized in the secondary data centre.
  • Continuous Monitoring: The Data Centre infrastructure must employ numerous intrusion detection systems (IDS) to identify malicious traffic attempting to access its networks.
  • Backup Power Systems: The tier IV data center facility offers clients' uninterrupted power from two different power plants.This ensures that a problem from one plant does not affect the functioning of your business.

Sunil Dara, VP - Information Technology, EMKOR Solutions Limited