If you are in IT, you have heard all about the CLOUD.  What is the Cloud? What does it mean? Is it just the next marketing word for outsourcing?

I have been in IT for nearly 20 years, and nothing has taken over the market like the cloud has. Everywhere I turn, it’s “Cloud this and Cloud that,” whether it is production in the Cloud or DR in the Cloud. While production in the Cloud has undeniable value, I will focus on Disaster Recovery in the Cloud for the purposes of this blog.

When we talk about DR in the Cloud, there are two very different options. First, let’s clarify what the Cloud means—at least to me. Managing your IT in the Cloud simply means that you are allowing a service provider to allocate IT resources to you on an OPEX pricing model with your data, systems, and applications running on hardware that they own and store in their data center. Your responsibility typically starts above the hardware layer. You could call it “Infrastructure on Demand,” but the “Cloud” is way cooler when it comes to marketing.

DR in the Cloud starts with getting your backup data copied off site, but the key differentiator is what you do with that data in the Cloud at the time of recovery. Most of the major Cloud providers limit your DR services to storing your data off site. While this makes sense for data protection, it is severely lacking in recovery capability. Loading your data into the Cloud is simple and relatively easy to maintain—just send a little bit of change data every day. However, the recovery process is far more complex.

With TBs of data in production and off site in the Cloud, and only a WAN connection for access to this data, what will your full environment recovery look like? If you experience a disaster and have to rely on a WAN connection between your DR data repository and your DR recovery site, you will have some serious explaining to do.  This recovery time will be days or months, neither of which is typically within an organization’s acceptable Recovery Time Objectives.

In order to minimize recovery time, you need a DR Cloud Provider that offers system hardware at the same location as your off-site backup data. This will lead to LAN speed recovery and a recovery time of merely hours or even minutes.

When you are considering DR in the Cloud, be sure you are looking for a DR Cloud Provider that offers off-site storage and systems for data recovery. These systems are critical to recovery; not having a reliable backup plan is analogous to driving your car without a spare tire. Ultimately, the best and only way to truly validate your DR in the Cloud solution is to perform a DR test.

Make sure you understand all of the details of your company’s intentions to move to the Cloud, and find a trusted advisor in the market to help craft the right solution for you. All too often, senior leadership gets caught up in the latest marketing buzz without truly understanding the technical details and implications. Get the right forecast for your business!