Cloud Disaster Recovery Best Practices

Considering the rapid increase in adoption of cloud technologies in today’s business landscape, the ability to effectively recover from disasters that lead to service disruption and outages is all the more crucial. Cloud-based disaster recovery ensures organizations have their data and service uptime restored in the shortest possible time.

What is Cloud Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery refers to a process where organizations prepare for and recover from disasters. As an integral part of the business continuity plan for organizations, disaster recovery seeks to secure an organization’s assets. Therefore, cloud disaster recovery plans are a group of procedures and measures to ensure an organization is running smoothly, powered by the use of dedicated facilities offered by cloud providers.

Occurrence of Cloud Disasters

To know how to prepare yourself for cloud disasters, it is important to understand how these disasters may occur. First, business assets may be exposed to cloud disasters in the form of technical failures, for instance, when power or network connectivity is interrupted. 

Second, natural disasters such as storms, floods, or earthquakes may occur in a region that harbors a server hosting a cloud service you are using, resulting in service outages and disruptions.

Cloud disasters may occur as human disasters, which are more common than natural disasters and could involve simple errors that lead to great service disruption. They often take place while using cloud services and are unfortunately impossible to eradicate. For instance, they could be triggered by a typo, or a simple misconfiguration, accidental deletions, or failing to carry out software updates — making it easy for threat actors to take control of a cloud service.

When threat actors, through malware such as ransomware, get access to cloud services, they are a danger to an organization’s infrastructure. These threat actors can easily cause service outages and frustratingly disrupt operations for their own gain. Ransomware is a great challenge to cloud data today, and the fact that these threats continue to evolve makes them all the more intimidating.

Preparing for Cloud Disasters

To be prepared for cloud disasters, you are required to constantly test your data recovery frameworks. There are a few tests an enterprise could carry out:

  • Full interruption test. Being the most thorough test that can be carried out, a full interruption test halts operations and replicates a disaster to gauge how an enterprise would respond to an actual disaster. It could be costly and may inadvertently cause major disruption in the event that it is unsuccessful.
  • Walkthrough test. Much less thorough than a full interruption test, this test reviews the disaster recovery plan and provides the opportunity to identify gaps to improve the disaster recovery plan.
  • Parallel test. Recovery operations are performed on a separate network from the primary system.
  • Simulation test. A disaster is simulated to prompt teams to simulate their documented disaster recovery plans. This may be done randomly to gauge the preparedness of the responders and the effectiveness of the existing strategy.

The Importance of Cloud Disaster Recovery

Cloud disaster recovery reduces the dependencies on physical infrastructure. This eases the operations of an enterprise since the enterprise outsources its disaster recovery workloads. Additionally, an enterprise would neither need to upgrade nor support its physical infrastructure for disaster recovery at the remote site. Cloud-based services offer added advantages such as automation, which is one way to mitigate human error.

With cloud disaster recovery, there is greater simplicity compared to on-premises disaster recovery. The complexity associated with managing your own disaster recovery processes is simplified through cloud methods. For instance, testing data recovery frameworks is made not only easier, but also more feasible.

Furthermore, enterprises enjoy great flexibility while selecting recovery methodologies. Organizations can cost-effectively combine various recovery methodologies without compromising on the services they require. Cloud disaster recovery options offer high scalability as servers and infrastructure can be scaled up based on models such as pay-as-you-go.

Also read: Fortifying Your Backups from Ransomware

Cloud Disaster Recovery Best Practices

Choose a suitable disaster recovery plan method

To formulate a suitable disaster recovery plan, it is important to understand your IT infrastructure. Through this, you may select the correct method for disaster recovery planning. You could use a backup and restore method, which entails the use of a managed backup solution to handle backup and restoring of your data at your convenience.

Depending on your requirements, a pilot light topology may be effective. This approach reduces the cost of disaster recovery by cutting down on the active resources, making it easier to recover data in the face of a disaster since critical data and applications are in one place. Other methods include hot standby, which has a full replica of your data and applications deployed in two or more active locations, and a warm standby, which has duplicates of your system’s core elements and runs them simultaneously with the system.

Read more: Disaster Recovery Across Hybrid Cloud Infrastructures

Select a capable disaster recovery service provider

Strategic disaster recovery assessment and planning have to have thoroughly defined procedures, which you may not be able to carry out by yourself. For instance, a disaster recovery service provider could help you conduct a thorough business impact analysis to aid in the familiarization with the potential operational limitations you stand to experience during a disaster.

It is therefore important to choose an intelligent, pragmatic, and solutions-oriented service provider who can help create an impactful cloud disaster recovery plan. Such a service provider will have the correct tools for your use case. They can also carry out a better assessment of potential dangers to your data.

Define RPO and RTO for your disaster recovery plan

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) are valuable metrics when formulating the disaster recovery plan of an organization. They provide a guarantee of business continuity during a disruption to a particular service.

RPO helps an organization understand the amount of data that would be an acceptable loss during a disaster. On the other hand, RTO governs how fast the infrastructure of an organization needs to achieve uptime after a disaster and involves the steps for disaster mitigation and recovery. As such, considering the RTO and RPO helps organizations to decide on a disaster recovery framework to meet their recovery goals.

Routinely test and update your plan

Routine testing of the disaster recovery plan gauges the expected effectiveness of the plan in the event of a disaster. Additionally, since disaster recovery goals should be in line with the business goals, the constant evolution of the business landscape makes it all the more necessary to always test disaster recovery plans to ensure they are not obsolete.

Information technology is also regularly changing. As such, to keep up with technological advancements, an organization’s infrastructure must develop accordingly through not only testing but also updating disaster recovery plans to ensure incremental improvement of the efficacy of the plans.

Also read: Disaster Recovery Testing: Ensuring Your DR Plan Works

Contemplate disaster recovery as a service

When organizations lack in-house disaster recovery teams, disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) becomes a viable option. DRaaS providers may offer organizations tailor-made best practices to suit their business needs. Since DRaaS uses cloud resources, it easily becomes a means to create a secondary infrastructure to secure an organization’s mission-critical data in the face of a disaster.

DRaaS also saves organizations money since one gets what they pay for. For instance, with such a plan, you will not end up paying for storage space you won’t use. Moreover, DRaaS may offer quicker recovery times in the aftermath of a disaster, compared to in-house solutions.

Read next: Best Enterprise Backup Software & Solutions 2021

Collins Ayuya
Collins Ayuya is pursuing his Master's in Computer Science and is passionate about technology. He loves sharing his experience in Artificial Intelligence, Telecommunications, IT, and emerging technologies through his writing. He is passionate about startups, innovation, new technology, and developing new products as he is also a startup founder. Collins enjoys doing pencil and graphite art and is also a sportsman, and gamer during his downtime.

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