How quickly can you recover from a disaster when you have cloud backup?
Cloud technologies are having a major impact on the IT environment. The number of companies moving to a public or private cloud environment has dramatically increased in recent times. Businesses are seeing the cloud as a cost-effective means to providing 24/7/365 availability of their systems to their staff and existing and potential customers, irrespective of geography.
However, a major concern to IT heads operating in a cloud environment has been online backup and recovery, particularly where management of the cloud backup regime is outsourced to an IT services provider.
The answer to the natural question of how quickly can to get back online is not an easy one to provide. It depends on the cloud environment, hosted or not, the cloud type, public or private and the volume of the systems and data to be restored.
The time to get back online includes the time to restore any operating system files, then application systems files, then applications systems data. It is very difficult to say just how long this will take, since it depends on just how serious is the disaster. A typical disk to disk restoration of 1 Terabyte of data from the cloud should take around 30 minutes, but will take considerably longer if the data is coming down from the cloud on an outsourced site over a communications link. You may even need to recover the backup media from offsite storage.
The quality of your cloud backups is also a serious consideration. It would not be the first or last time backups have been found to be incomplete or faulty, or just plain missing
If we can quickly dispose of an outsourced private cloud environment, the responsibility of taking an online backup and managing the restoration process is that of the outsourced host. The cloud backup and recovery requirements should be enshrined in a service level agreement with the supplier together with review checkpoints. It will also be wise to have regular tests of the backup/recovery arrangements. The prudent IT Head will have some on-site disaster planning arrangements to provide key operational systems to the business in the event of an extended loss of service from the outsourced service provider. Some businesses keep their own online backup of key data as an added level of security.
Public clouds can be either outsourced or remain the responsibility of the business. If outsourced, then the case is the same as that of outsourcing to a private cloud. If the business has the responsibility of maintaining an online backup regime then it is the same as an in-house private cloud environment.
That probably doesn’t help much to answer the question. If the recovery process is to be managed by an outsourced host, then there is little that the IT Head can do other than wait, implementing the backup procedures he has in place.
If the recovery process is to be handled in-house, then we must return to the question of how serious is the disaster.
- If it is a simple matter of restoring data from an online backup then the answer will be that it is as long as the restore takes. There may be additional work needed to catch up, but that can be carried out on an operational system.
- If it is a systems software failure, the answer is more complex. It could be caused by application of an software update or patch, malware, or Murphy. The simple answer is to return to a known checkpoint. Again, the time to do that is however long it takes to restore the system to that state. If, in addition, it requires a data restore then that will be happen when the systems restore is complete.
- Hardware failure. In all environments there are key pieces of equipment that bring the whole enterprise to a halt if they fail. A common one is a fan failing in a network switch or router, causing it to overheat and switch off. Disk failures can happen, and communications lines can be severed. There Is always the possibility of a power surge causing down-line damage.If it is a hardware component and there is backup equipment available, downtime is that taken to install and configure it. If a backup is not available, add the time for your equipment supplier to source and deliver it. Cabling – the time to find the fault and repair it.External problems. You are in the hands of the service supplier.
- Malware. An industry guru states that all secure systems are those that haven`t been broken yet. It is a certainty that your systems will, at some time, have a malware problem. How long recovery takes will depend on the type and seriousness of the attack or infection. The most serious, ransomware, is usually best dealt with by going back to bare systems and restoring from the ground up.
Having said all that, the common theme through all the answers is that you must have a complete, up to date and usable online backup of all your systems and data to be able to bring your systems back into operation in the shortest possible time. Concentrate on that.