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No Masters in Disasters Needed By @BDVandegrift | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Disasters that bring down corporate networks most often, walk through the front door on two legs

Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery - No Masters in Disasters Needed

The concept of a cloud facilitating applications is by no means new. Those of us who diagrammed network connectivity around 1993 will recall drawing a big puffy cloud symbol in between two local area networks. The cloud represented the mysterious Internet - that mash-up of routers and other items bouncing our packets back and forth through millions of ports, only to reassemble the bytes on the other end into - hopefully - the same item that was sent.

Today, we have dissipated that nebulous cloud symbol to accurately define its contents of firewalls, load-balancing devices, switches, routers and storage devices. As time passed, we even moved beyond the physical layer to embrace a virtual realm, as an obscure organization called VMware began to puncture its way out of EMC and take hold as a processing juggernaut, without the need for more heavy metal. But the cloud evolution was not completed at this time, by any means.

A gluttony of fiber optic cables and copper wires soon etched DSL's epithet to usher in a new frontier of enormous bandwidth that could shuttle gigantic data packets without sacrificing the payroll of a small nation. The back-end data centers were now in full operation and broad pipes ran directly into on-premise routers. The stage was set, as the most difficult parts of an IT administrator's job now existed somewhere else - commoditized and packaged for resale in convenient processing bundles "right sized" for specific application appetites.

That cloud from the 1990s had evolved into the Perfect Storm of "pay as you go" and "consume only what you need" services. Enterprise organizations no longer feared this rapidly approaching frontal system of clouds and welcomed its ability to conveniently host their CRM, e-mail, storage, R&D and other business-related applications. Indeed, cloud platforms have become scalable, accessible, high-performance solutions; all attributes that are extremely helpful for a new service to emerge: hosted disaster recovery solutions.

Disasters come in many different forms and the majority of them - that affect computer networks - do not hail from the sea, sky or deep within the tectonic plates of a continent. No, disasters that bring down corporate networks most often, walk through the front door on two legs, leave items in the refrigerator past the expiration date and take extended lunch breaks. These sons and daughters of man, aka employees, do more harm to business processes in one week than Mother Nature can conjure up in a year.

While most companies spend tremendous resources building in redundancy to ensure that the "hard" aspects of their network are reliable, it is easy to overlook the "soft," or human, element of a network and the related computer systems. Simply put: manmade network disasters occur with greater frequency and the corrective actions often taken are less than satisfactory when it comes to restoring business services - both internal and client facing.

To soften the blow of man-made disasters, many organizations turn to tape backup. But lessons from virtualization must be adhered to, i.e., it's easier, quicker and more cost-effective to let go of the tangible security blanket and embrace the dynamic and scalable concept of virtual or disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) methods. The elasticity and redundant nature of the cloud lends itself to an ideal disaster recovery solution without the physical impediments inherent within tape backup solutions. In fact, DRaaS "virtually" eliminates the following issues when using data backup tapes:

  1. Corruption and exposure of magnetic media
  2. Time to data restoration
  3. Theft (the human element to network disasters)
  4. Backup for the tape backups
  5. Costs (administration, storage and replacement)

Precedent has been set and cloud-based services have proven their value to all forms of businesses, both large and small. DRaaS is scalable, cost-effective and fast. When compared to tape-based methods, a cloud disaster-recovery solution is easier to set up and deploy, and much faster to utilize in the event of an actual disaster. Companies can be up and running within a matter of minutes versus days.

In addition, with DRaaS solutions, data is stored in high performance, scalable systems. Companies only pay for the resources they need and are able to better control their associated costs. The amount of storage a company needs can be easily scaled without having to upgrade any physical infrastructure components. Given these facts, the question is not whether disaster recovery will move to the cloud, but instead, whether IT personnel are ready to cut yet another IT umbilical cord.

Given the adoption and acceptance of virtualization as a standard by many companies, the data backup and recovery cord cutting should not be a difficult one - you don't need a Masters in Disasters to figure that one out. Many companies are already making the shift, and these services make it easier than ever to quickly replicate and restore an entire system. There are many benefits to using cloud disaster-recovery solutions, and there should no longer be skepticism holding back decisions.

Putting damage control and reputation tarnish aside, there are clear balance sheet-related benefits to using DRaaS. For starters, IT personnel will no longer be stuck in the perpetual doldrums of information lifecycle management (ILM). Upgrading storage devices, software and maintenance contracts every few years can be put in the same nostalgic memory bank as dial-up connectivity. A second balance sheet boon can be realized when the IT staff is removed from the routine backup procedures and free to develop more strategic business applications in pursuit of productivity and competitive advantage.

There is no doubt that cloud services have changed - and will continue to change - the business landscape. This is where the term "paradigm technology shift" used ad nauseam during the late 1990s/early 2000s actually applies. The cloud is a perfect conduit for disaster recovery services, the only problem it creates is what to do with all those magnetic backup tapes now. A plausible solution, stack them in the closet with your 8-Track, cassette and Betamax tapes.

More Stories By Brian Vandegrift

Brian Vandegrift is EVP of Sales and Innovation at Venyu, where he leads and manages the sales teams, which includes training, mentoring and coaching the company’s sales representatives. He has over 15 years of experience in technology consulting which enables him to play an integral role in the product development process for Venyu. With certifications from Microsoft, Citrix, and VMware, he has the expertise necessary to architect data protection, disaster recovery, and hosting solutions for just about every challenging scenario a business could face. Prior to joining Venyu, Brian worked for PPI in Baton Rouge, where he was the area General Manager responsible for sales and product delivery. He holds a BA in political science from Rhodes College.

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