Cloud computing being used to ensure continuity of operations in midst of disaster recovery cloud computing disaster recovery

A growing percentage of businesses are leveraging cloud computing as a sort of operational “safety net”

It doesn’t matter how well prepared you think your business or IT resources are, at some point you will likely face an inevitable crisis situation. Often times disasters and issues creep up where we least expect them too. Does this mean that you should live in constant fear of an event or anticipate a breakdown every time you perform a routine addition or upgrade? Of course not, although some individuals and businesses seem to be better prepared (and forward thinking) than others.  cloud computing disaster recovery

One of the simplest and most effective methods for dealing with disaster recovery issues is to explore and adopt cloud computing. In other words, transition your business over to cloud computing entirely or elect to incorporate individual services into your current IT setup. You might be wondering “What sets cloud computing apart from traditional IT when it comes to disaster recovery?” Well, unlike traditional IT, fully managed cloud computing services are provided remotely (off-site) by large organizations with very extensive resources at their disposal. A great number of major cloud providers also utilize a system whereby data is cached, copied or spread across multiple clouds and servers (also called co-location). This is done in order to facilitate access and data migration, but also serves the useful purpose of acting as a functional copy or blueprint backup for your cloud infrastructure.

Cloud computing also allows for routine scheduling of complete or partial system backups. Or to put it another way; through cloud computing, you can schedule daily, weekly, monthly, etc…backups for your entire IT infrastructure if you like. Some organizations that receive and process a large amount of data on a daily basis might even elect to perform more than one type of cloud backup operation per day.

Why is continuity such a major concern?
Aside from the actual work performed, products and/or services sold, the most important thing any business has going for it is its continuity or stability.  For example, a large number of businesses today either distribute technology or are dependent upon it, if an organization isn’t available immediately when the customer / consumer reaches for it, a potential sale is lost.

Then of course you have office-related situations where IT isn’t necessarily interacting with customers, it’s facilitating the daily work that’s being performed by employees. Downtime for IT in the office means big losses as there are often tens to hundreds of salaried employees who are getting paid despite the fact that they are able to do no work. Moreover, any lost time will have to be made up later, which further compounds the cost-to-profit ratios concerning whatever work is being done.

Assured continuity is also a major concern for the accounting departments of most businesses; which often factor in every detail of an operation down to the annual cost of energy, supplies, and IT maintenance and upgrade expenditures. In many cases, accounting might not have even considered the prospect of IT-related downtime.

Disasters and lost time due to IT breakdown(s) also present great opportunities for competitors to swoop in and steal your business / clientele. Your customers might really value your service and even depend on it themselves, but they’re not going to wait around for you to get things straightened out, they’re going to jump straight into the arms of your closest competitor.

How can cloud computing ensure continuity?
There are basically 3 ways that cloud computing can be leveraged to ensure continuity of operations:

  1. A fully managed cloud service provider – Your organization has transitioned over to cloud computing and your broker / provider manages your cloud infrastructure and has a backup / resiliency / recovery plan in place.
  2. An individually deployed cloud-based backup solution – This would be services like those offered by IBM under the heading of business continuity.
  3. An integrated (hybrid) solution that automates backups – Your on-site IT model incorporates an integrated cloud solution which your organization configures to provide automated backups.

Whatever type of cloud computing service you elect to use for disaster recovery or to ensure continuity, you might want (at the very least) have dedicated full system, settings and storage backups performed on a weekly or daily basis. If, for example, your entire IT operation were to go down, having a complete copy of your system and data on hand would allow you to very quickly migrate to a backup cloud solution. In other words, you should probably have an affordable and fully managed cloud service solution set up and ready to go (with up-to-date backup data) in the event of the unforeseen. A great way to protect your organization from disasters and expedite recoveries is to have your IT personnel receive some form of comprehensive cloud computing certification. This will allow you to further leverage cloud-based technologies and solutions and make it much easier when you finally decide to move the entire IT operation to the cloud.

Since most full-service cloud providers will often charge you on a metered or “pay for what you use” basis, the idea of having another IT solution you can simply “turn on” is a very real possibility. You might be able to use a cloud computing setup as a sort of backup IT system until adjustments / repairs to the main infrastructure are finished and operations can resume. However, it’s worth mentioning that cloud computing offers many real benefits over traditional IT, and you and/or your business should strongly consider simply moving to the cloud permanently.

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