Rethinking disaster recovery for the cloud

DR practices that were designed for in-house computing are out of sync with the cloud world. If you haven't already revised your DR plan for cloud computing, now's the time.

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On September 4, 2018, a cooling problem in a data center created an outage for Microsoft Azure cloud that impacted companies across the south central United States. “Azure was down for most of one business day,” said one IT professional. “Though we’re a nationwide company, all of our traffic goes through Dallas, Texas, so the entire company was affected. It caused a slowdown in many of our business processes.”

As a leading public cloud services provider, Azure is not alone when it comes to outages. Google cloud and Amazon AWS have also experienced outages that have adversely affected their corporate clients.

If you haven't already revised your DR plan for cloud-based computing, you need do it now.

Rethinking DR

“We really haven’t thought about modifying our DR plan until now,” said an IT manager at a west coast financial services firm. “When we went back over our contracts with cloud vendors, we discovered that almost all of the contracts contained disclaimer clauses saying that the cloud providers would not be responsible for service or data recovery SLAs if a disaster occurred. That really concerned us.”

The plot thickens further for companies using software as a service (SaaS) vendors that in turn rely on third party cloud providers to host their services.

What happens when the third-party cloud provider the SaaS company is using experiences an outage in its data center? “In that case, which is highly unlikely, we would simply put the client in touch with our cloud provider,” said one California SaaS company executive.

Unfortunately, finding yourself face to face with a third party you have no contract with and that you don't even know, is not a good position to find yourself in if you are experiencing a disaster.

In the cloud, you have to think differently. DR practices that were designed for in-house computing are out of sync with the cloud world, where strategies such as replication of systems and data, cooperative testing with vendors, and even failover to alternate vendors need to be considered.

Here are seven recommended best practices for revising your DR plan for the cloud.

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