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Cloud Computing– a Viable Disaster Recovery Option

 
Managed hosting - be familiar with IT's DR response-ability

The strengths of outsourcing-Outsourcing information technology (IT) for many has been the best-fit alternative to designing, building, equipping, staffing, and deploying an in-house solution.

Because Cloud Services Providers (CSPs) are able to take advantage of economies of scale in the deployment of cutting-edge technology, providers can access information at anytime from anywhere. For a predictable monthly fee, customers of CSPs enjoy the benefits of:

  • Affordability
  • Scalability
  • Reliability
  • Availability
  • Extensibility
  • Maintainability

While the above sounds good in a sales pitch, you may still feel "ill-at-ies", because the real world can be something different. Information systems present a peculiar puzzle with unique risks. As such, exposure to disasters can be much broader than natural disasters. Corrupted data, systems crashing, blackouts, theft, viruses, sabotage, definitely expand the definition of "disaster."

Compatibility with business objectives-Disaster recovery puts a significant strain on IT resources, particularly CSPs whose data centers house mission-critical applications and data for numerous customers. Before selecting a CSP, you should test its compatibility with your business model. Does the CSP understand not only your industry/profession, does it understand and can it respond swiftly to your business requirements?

Questions to ask about your CSP-Theoretically, CSPs are equipped to deal with disasters. They have the environmentals, physical plant, equipment, and staff to respond quickly should the need arise. To test their response-ability, you should seek and verify the answers to questions, such as:

  • Does the CSP have and has it tested a working disaster recovery plan?
  • May you examine the the plan?
  • Can the plan stand alone in the event its "key people" are unavailable?
  • Is the CSP willing to test the system with you as part of a regularly-scheduled disaster drill?
  • Can you form a crisis management team with members of the CSP staff?
  • Does the CSP have a back-up and disaster recovery site? Does it have ready access to the outside world, such as a redundant and scalable Metro Ethernet ring, to provide critical backup and disaster recovery service?
  • Does the CSP have an operational automated network monitoring system, such as Big Brother, to monitor its servers and data communications networks?
  • Does the CSP have communication procedures in place to alert needed personnel compatible with your disaster plan?
  • In the event of a disaster, how quickly would you be "back in business?"
  • What procedures do they have in place?
  • Have you communicated to the CSP what applications and data are absolutely mission critical?
  • What fail-over systems does the CSP have in place? How often does the CSP test these?

These are just a few of the questions. With a proper service level agreement (SLA) in place, a customer and the CSP can develop a working relationship under any circumstance. Remember, to leverage an CSP's strengths, you must know its capacity to respond its response-ability.

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