Many business continuity professionals think of the cloud as a magical realm where nothing bad can happen. The reality is that things go wrong in the cloud all the time and as a result we must be sure to perform our due diligence in setting up our cloud-based IT/Disaster Recovery solutions.
In today’s post we’ll look at some of the common misconceptions people have about the cloud.
We’ll also talk about some things you can do to make sure this excellent “new” invention called the cloud doesn’t disappoint you when you need it most.
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BENEFITS OF THE CLOUD
Don’t get me wrong: I think that in terms of Business Continuity and IT/Disaster Recovery, the cloud might be the best thing since sliced bread.
Use of the cloud for IT backup and recovery, when done right, allows companies of all sizes to operate a seamless recovery environment and reduce their risks significantly.
It’s especially beneficial for small companies because it gives them opportunities and advantages that were previously available only to large ones.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE CLOUD
The biggest problem with the cloud is not even a problem with the cloud. It’s a problem in how people have come to think about the cloud.
Like I said at the top, they’ve come to think of the cloud as a magical realm where nothing bad ever happens. For some reason, many people have come to regard the cloud as a mythical place that exists apart from the rules of ordinary life.
People assume that if something is stored in the cloud they don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Of course the cloud is not a mythical kingdom, it’s just a bunch of data centers, every one of which is subject to the law of gravity and all the other everyday realities.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE
The fact that the cloud is subject to real-world problems is underscored by issues such as outages, breaches, and fires that have been reported at data centers for even the biggest cloud companies.
For example, last year Amazon Web Services suffered an outage in its US-East-1 region that meant some of their customers would not be able to recover their data. Also last year, an outage at a CenturyLink data center brought down 911 service at locations across the country.
There was nothing mythical about these outages.
And even if the odds of an entire data center being lost are low, the chances that a piece of a data center might suffer a disruption are high. This can create a different kind of problem for companies relying on that data center, and these are not necessarily easy problems to solve. Recovering part of the enterprise’s data requires integration of the unaffected and recovered data, and this opens a whole new can of worms.
HOW TO USE THE CLOUD SAFELY
Given these realities, what should the prudent, responsible organization of today do? The answer can be given in four words and they are not, “Don’t use the cloud.” They are: “Do your due diligence.”
You should use the cloud, but you should do so intelligently and cautiously, with your eyes open.
Specifically you should:
- Choose a reputable cloud-services vendor.
- Make sure any data center where your information will be stored is hardened and has backup power and a resilient infrastructure.
- Make sure your data center will be geographically distanced (don’t use a DC that is in the same area where you are) and will be unaffected by the same event impacting your key sites.
- Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish in choosing a cloud provider.
- Don’t assume that just because a provider is big, it means they never have problems.
- Make sure you have a plan for recovery and that you have the right data backups stored offsite away from your cloud DC.
- Make sure the cloud vendor can meet your recovery timelines.
- Be clear on who will recover your environment in the event of a disruption, you or the cloud provider.
- Ask the cloud provider lots of questions about their resiliency and services.
- Visit the provider and make sure they can do what they say they can.
- Inspect what you expect.
DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE
The cloud is a wonderful place, but it is not a magic kingdom. It’s part of the everyday world, and it is vulnerable to all of the usual everyday problems.
Most likely, the cloud should be part of your backup and recovery planning. However, to prevent this excellent tool from possibly failing you in the clutch, you should exercise due diligence in choosing a cloud provider and in the reliance you place on its services.
For more information on this and other hot topics in Business Continuity and IT/Disaster Recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting: