To cloud or not to cloud for your IT disaster recovery?

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Infrastructure technology (IT) disaster recovery (DR) has been identified as an excellent use case for cloud. How do you determine if you can use cloud for your IT DR?

Before you jump on the bandwagon of cloud, step back to understand your IT DR requirements, what you already have in place for IT DR and how cloud fits in the picture.

Why should you take your time to understand your IT DR requirements?

There are so many technology options that can be combined to meet different IT DR requirements. You can make your analysis simpler by explicitly defining the IT DR performance indicators in terms of recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). Documenting the set of RTOs and RPOs of your business applications will help you eliminate technology solutions that clearly cannot meet your requirements and reduce the number of options you need to analyze. Also, IT DR solutions are not free and in today’s economic environment, you need to make sure your IT DR requirements are appropriate for your business.

Recovery point objective

What are the business and IT drivers for considering cloud for IT DR?

Are you being asked to reduce your IT DR expenses? Are you being asked to improve and deliver faster RTO and RPO? Are you being asked to accomplish both? What are your organization’s objectives that you hope can be answered by using cloud for IT DR?

You’ve probably read about the many benefits cloud can bring to your organization, such as the promise of making your organization more agile because you can get the resource when you need it or that cloud can save you money because you only pay for what you use. But what are the important reasons for your organization to select cloud for IT DR? Documenting the decision criteria will help you sort through the cloud choices and pick the best solution or solutions.

What applications and which cloud service models are good candidates for using cloud for IT DR?

Out of all your applications, which ones would you consider first? Is your organization more receptive to selecting less critical applications and implementing the IT DR using cloud in pilot cases? Or maybe it’s the opposite, because you must protect the critical applications first. Who in your organization will make that decision?

In addition to selecting the applications, you also need to consider the cloud service model that is most appropriate for your applications based on business need, cost, control and flexibility. See the cloud service delivery models defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, “The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing” September 2011.

There are many considerations that you need to assess first before deciding how cloud could be leveraged for your IT DR needs. It is best to establish your evaluation criteria and use a consistent approach to assess how your applications can or cannot use cloud for IT DR.

Do you use cloud for your IT DR? What are the criteria you used to select the applications and the cloud service delivery model? If you don’t and you’re considering IT DR in any form, please check out the disaster recovery and cloud disaster recovery solutions from IBM business continuity and resiliency services. I’d love to hear from you on Twitter @jc0702.

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