Businesses planning to use the cloud as a continuity solution need to address several critical issues, including the accessibility of data and applications
At first glance, using the cloud-based storage you’ve already got as your business continuity solution makes perfect sense. Your corporate data is already going somewhere offsite for storage, the people at your cloud provider automatically back up files, and you can get to your data when you need it. What’s not to like?
Actually, there could be plenty not to like, depending on what’s stored with your cloud provider, what you need at your existing location to conduct business and how prepared you are to move from one location to the other.
Putting your data in the cloud means just that. Your company’s data is out there, safe (we hope) in another data centre located somewhere that you’re not. But using that data is another problem entirely.
How accessible will your data be if you can’t recover it from your existing data centre, you can’t use it with your existing applications, and you can’t use the rest of your infrastructure as a place in which to conduct business? After all, your business is more than just data: It’s also what you do with that data.
“Business continuity, even with the cloud, isn’t simple,” said Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president of research for the Yankee Group. “There’s a lot more to it than merely copying data to the cloud.” He recommends asking these important questions: “What’s a cost-effective way? How do you keep [data] in sync? How do you point your applications to it? There are a lot of other things that have to be considered.
“The biggest part is the process side,” Kerravala added. “Assuming that it works, how do you use the data once it’s in the cloud?” He warned that a lot of backup and recovery companies may be doing this for the first time and may not be able to provide a proven solution.
Considering Continuity Needs
Lauren Whitehouse, senior analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group, noted that just because you’re already storing information in the cloud doesn’t mean you’re doing it in a way that will help with business continuity. She said it’s important that your provider be able to handle the requirements of bringing your business back—and being able to do it in a timely manner. That, she said, depends on how long your business can stand being offline.
“Some businesses can’t stand any interruption,” Whitehouse said, “so they need a system that can immediately take over.” She noted that such a business continuity solution needs to be in a location that is geographically dispersed from where the company’s data centre is located, so that the same disaster doesn’t affect both locations.