The spate of natural disasters recently has at least had one positive impact: It's caused the majority of the enterprise industry to take the notion of backup and disaster recovery seriously.
And fortunately, as we saw last week, there is no shortage of new solutions in the channel to both improve DR functionality and lower costs. The massive scalability of the cloud is only one tool at the CIO's disposal when it comes to building a robust DR infrastructure. With storage, analytics, continuity and a host of other applications now available as services, DR can be provided on a pay-as-you-go basis without incurring the time and expense of building fully redundant data facilities.
Yet even this won't be enough if the recovery strategy isn't broad enough. As FalconStor's Timothy Sheets made clear this week, recovery platforms that focus strictly on data restoration won't be enough. To gain true peace of mind, enterprises need to start thinking about full infrastructure recovery. In fact, data should be one of the last items on the recovery list considering it won't be much good without server, storage and network capabilities, not to mention an OS, applications, configurations, settings and a host of other items. Clearly, this will require a change of mindset from a data- and application-driven environment to one that is populated by services.
What we all should be aiming for in the new year is nothing less than full data center redundancy in the cloud, says Andrey Alexeev, co-founder of Nginx, a business development and product specialist service. Not only will this reduce physical hardware and real estate costs, it will provide a more elastic architecture that will be more resilient to and less debilitated by system outages.
Nevertheless, the transition from physical to cloud-based DR is progressing slowly. According to InformationWeek's annual BC/DR survey, just 23 percent of more than 400 enterprises have begun to shift recovery operations to the cloud. More interestingly, 27 percent said they spent a double-digit percentage of their IT budgets on backup and recovery, the same level as found in the pre-cloud survey of 2008. That could mean the enterprise industry is on the cusp of a massive migration to cloud-based DR, or that security and reliability issues continue to dog the cloud even as a backup solution.
Cost and capabilities may be important for backup services, but the true determinant for success is the ability to provide continuity in extreme circumstances. The cloud, of course, is subject to disruption just like any data infrastructure, but it has the advantage of near-infinite scalability and a widely distributed architecture that allows multiple redundancies for a variety of services.
When lower cost is coupled with increased functionality, it's hard to keep the floodgates closed for long.