Disaster recovery is ripe for cloud disruption

Cloud computing will soon disrupt the market for basic storage and data center backup.

Dropbox, Box and other cloud-based backup tools for desktop and mobile devices have already been wildly successful. Similar tools, such as Riverbed, StorSimple and Ctera, are available for the server market, but they take a hardware-centric approach that has failed to garner a large market.

When Amazon Web Services launched AWS Storage Gateway last month, the move seemed entirely logical, almost expected, given the enormous appetite that desktops have shown for cloud-based data sharing and backup.

But is this enough? Most companies have become pretty good at copying data. The real challenge is not restoring data, but going a level higher and recovering services when disaster strikes. That’s particularly important in the era of IT consumerization, where end users expect to access data through applications of their choice on the device of their choice. In other words, it is useless to protect data and not protect the applications that exploit it.

This is where current backup tools fall short. End users are concerned about how long the outage is going to last, not whether the data is safe (which they assume is a given). Disaster recovery is about minimizing downtime. The cloud has huge potential to make an impact here. By managing and scheduling all of the components involved in service delivery, the cloud could turn recovery time objectives into guarantees.

We are at a fork in the road: backup and disaster recovery are going to be two separate processes.

Backup will be used to quickly restore data — including files, mailboxes, attachments and database tables — and to keep auditors happy about long-term data availability.

Disaster recovery will focus on continuity and service recovery, not data restoration. It will orchestrate all of the components involved in service delivery — from storage to hypervisors, operating systems, databases, middleware and applications — across collaborating clouds. This means that when a cloud disappears, another cloud will be ready to take over at the push of a button. And we’ll be 100 percent certain about the maximum outage time. There will be no need to worry about doing disaster recovery exercises, because clouds will do them on their own, continuously and accurately.

Carlos Escapa is the CEO of VirtualSharp Software. Previously, he was a senior executive at VMware in Europe, where he managed VMware’s field operations in France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. 

Image courtesy of Flickr user Kevin Burkett.