Operating systems, applications and user settings are not replicated. If a disaster happens, servers and databases must be rebuilt before data can be recovered, which translates into much more downtime.
Data replication may be just fine for your organization, but it’s important to know that it’s not a full-blown DR service. Eventually, as HTML5 and the browser-based, silo-free Nirvana we’ve all been promised comes to fruition, data replication will be disaster recovery.
Until then, make sure you’re getting the service levels you require to rebound after a disaster.
One reason cloud-based data replication is so much more popular than cloud-based DR is that sending the amount of data necessary for true DR over the public Internet is prohibitively expensive, requiring, for instance, the addition of an expensive MPLS connection. This is a major reason that so many businesses still handle DR physically, with tape backups.
For cloud-based DR to really work for many companies, the storage and mirroring side of the service is not enough. Even if you’ve hosted your applications with a cloud provider that fact doesn’t mean it’s affordable to mirror your data from a site in one region to another.
How do you move those huge chunks of data over the Internet without breaking the bank? What many organizations have found is that complementary technologies like CDNs or WAN optimization are critical to their DR planning.
“We’ve offered WAN optimization services to our customers for years, but for many it was still too expensive,” said Jon Beck, SVP of Worldwide Channels and Alliances for OpSource, a provider of enterprise cloud and managed hosting services. Traditional WAN optimization requires the installation of hardware at each site, and often at branch offices and other remote locations, and the costs really add up.
To help drive down costs and offer data replication and disaster recovery to a broader segment of their customer base, OpSource turned to the cloud-based WAN optimization solution from Aryaka. “[At OpSource] we’re big believers in the SaaS model, and Aryaka is the only WAN optimization vendor I know of that delivers the service on the SaaS model,” Beck said. As a result, all the DR spending for OpSource itself and for its customers is on actual operating expenses, rather than on up-front equipment costs.
Even the best-laid disaster plans may not hold up in the face of a major disaster. For Graniterock, after a disaster there’s a good chance their construction trucks could be diverted to help with cleanup and rebuilding, but how would they coordinate all of that?
“If it’s a major disaster and the WAN is down in your region, you won’t even be able to get to your backed up data,” Snodgrass said.
Although Graniterock does its billing and payments online, the company keeps a stock of paper checks on hand just in case. They keep paper dispatch tickets for trucks, and they have plans in place for offline computers to do manual matching for complicated concrete delivery.
“If your people are prepared, pencil and paper will work just fine if you don’t have power, Internet and phones,” Snodgrass added.