Cloud Computing Solutions for Disaster Recovery

Posted by Mark Teter, Chief Technology Officer
March 23, 2011

I recently read IT execs question whether cloud disaster recovery is a viable option by Laura Smith in, and I think it raises some interesting points.

ASG has customers who use cloud-based disaster recovery strategies as a tertiary datacenter. Those customers generally have no need to consider the same level of questions as customers considering the cloud for their sole disaster recovery solution.

But for customers who are considering the cloud for their sole DR strategy—they’ll have just as many contractual questions as infrastructure/technical questions. For example, what about commercial apps in cloud? Most apps don’t get restarted automatically, so they’ll need to consider what will happen if the cloud goes offline. Licensing issues should also be a concern. When do customers pay?  In advance and/or for what length of term?

There are lots of questions to ask before moving to the cloud, especially with disaster recovery in mind. Cloud computing solutions providers are not responsible for backing anything up. Performance guarantees? Nope, only availability. Either way, you’re going to need new tools to monitor, manage and deploy cloud-based apps.

Here’s an idea of where your list of questions might start (we've looked at many of these questions before in our 30 questions to ask before turning to the cloud post…

  • What happens when the cloud goes offline? How will you get notified? Are services restarted automatically?
  • If you want to terminate a contract before the term ends, what kinds of “lock-in” or “must pay” clauses exist?
  • Can you only terminate the contract “for cause?” And if so, how difficult is it to prove a cause?
  • How much does it cost to customize your apps once they’re in the cloud?
  • How does your cloud provider supply QoS to your business?
  • Do they provide load balancing or availability guarantees?
  • How much does it cost to import your data? How much will it cost to export your data?
  • How must does it cost to back up your data once it’s in the cloud?
  • What are your expected RPO and RTO from your cloud provider?
  • What are the cloud computing solutions providers’ annual revenues? How long has it been in business? How many customers?
  • Is your cloud computing solutions provider providing you with SLAs that are currently better than what you have today?
  • How will you transfer the software licenses you currently own?
  • Will your apps be clustered in the cloud?
  • How will you manage your apps for performance and/or outages?
  • Will your cloud computing solutions provider use an underlying Iaas for their own infrastructure? Or will they build their own infrastructure?
  • What is the SLA? What happens if your cloud provider doesn't meet it?
  • Do they have a disaster recovery plan? If so, can they send you a copy?
  • Can they provide documentation of their uptime for this year and last year?
  • How do they communicate problems, outages, and fixes to their customers?
  • How does your cloud provider implement backups, and how long do they keep your data?
  • Who has access to your data and/or the hardware on which it is running?
  • How is redundancy implemented within your environment? Do you have spare disk drives, servers, power supplies, internet circuits?
  • Do you have full ownership of my data?
  • Does your cloud provider offer a standard annual termination for convenience?
  • Do they allow for annual usage-level alignment (up or down) based on your business needs?
  • Can you apply monthly rollover usage to address seasonal peaks?
  • Can they provide long-term price protection?

How is your organization currently handling disaster recovery? Are you considering the cloud? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

About Mark Teter Before he retired from ASG in 2013, Mark Teter was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the author of 'Paradigm Shift: Seven Keys of Highly successful Linux and Open Source Adoptions.' As CTO, Mark regularly advised IT organizations, vendors, and government agencies, and he frequently conducted seminars and training programs.

Filed Under: Disaster Recovery

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