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Volume 27, Issue 1

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The Cloud is a Cost-Effective Option for Disaster Recovery

Written by  Adnan Raja July 7, 2011

Disaster recovery is all about trade-offs: you need to find a cost-effective solution that is always active and makes it as easy as possible to recover your data and restart your business if something bad happens. Of course, “something bad” covers quite a range of events, and could be applied to a lost laptop, a server crash, a break-in, a fire at headquarters, or a larger disaster like the recent earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan.

The sheer magnitude of that range should make it clear that an effective disaster recovery option needs to include secure offsite backup at regular intervals.  Cloud computing is an excellent option for securing business data against disasters, because it consolidates all your data in an offsite location that is more secure and better-maintained than the internal IT infrastructure in most companies. It also means an in-house disaster won’t destroy valuable IT hardware and software that would then need to be replaced. And cloud computing allows a high level of service and security at a fraction of the cost of maintaining equivalent in-house data facilities.

Some of the direct benefits of the cloud computing model are:

  • Servers are moved offsite to commercial facilities – lower risk of break-in, theft or hardware failure
  • State of the art security measures are always in place, and are updated and upgraded as needed – makes hacking or data interception less likely
  • An event that destroys an office won’t necessarily affect the data at all – leaving you one less thing to worry about during rebuilding
  • Backups occur daily, and archives kept for at least 1 month
  • For added security, data can be geographically redundant – i.e. mirrored in multiple data centers in different locations

 Unfortunately, disasters happen to businesses. Cloud computing makes recovery easier since your main server resources and data storage are already offsite, and are consolidated for backup. And since your service provider is intimately familiar with your system, it’s possible to store your data as a useable image, rather than a series of files.  Recovery images contain your files and all the formatting, partition tables, and volume configuration needed for complete and instant disaster recovery.

Any kind of backup and recovery resource is better than nothing. But a plan that’s so complex you never implement it is worse than nothing – you have no coverage, and you have the expense and hassle of trying to do it yourself. Cloud computing offers an unprecedented combination of backup features at a low price, along with all the other benefits of cloud computing for your business. A cloud computing IT model can help you get in business, stay in business, and recover from any mishaps along the way.

Cloud-Based Flexibility Means More Efficient Business

Information technology is a significant and growing contributor to global CO2 emissions, and most scientists believe that these changes in the atmosphere are also changing the global climate. But from a business perspective, there’s no doubt whatsoever: IT infrastructure uses energy, and energy costs money. Therefore, anything you can do to increase IT efficiency will also help your bottom line.

And when you consider the need for a given set of IT resources, there’s no doubt that cloud computing offers a more flexible, responsive, and efficient model than maintaining in-house servers. When you run your own servers, you assume the cost and difficulty of selecting, purchasing, configuring, running and maintaining the hardware, you need to dedicate personnel to those tasks, and you also need to over-provide capacity, or risk not having enough to meet spikes in demand.

Cloud computing, on the other hand, can provide virtual servers that can be scaled up or scaled down as needed, so that each client only pays for what is actually used. And when averaged out over many clients, this means the cloud computing provider can achieve much higher utilization rates than any client could alone. This increased utilization means greater large-scale efficiency, and it also means each client pays less in energy costs than they would to keep the hardware in-house.

From a green perspective, there’s much to like about cloud computing. It’s true that datacenters are large entities that consume a lot of power, but they are eliminating the need for each of their customers to have similar or greater resources in-house, thus reducing power drains elsewhere. And new datacenters like the Yahoo center in Lockport, NY are increasingly being built in locations where they can take advantage of renewable energy. Consolidating computing resources into centers makes it easier to bring the demand to the supply, rather than the other way around.  With cloud computing, the business world can use less energy, and use it from greener sources. Sounds like a green initiative that’s also good for business.

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