CIO Symmetry

Feb 15 2011   3:14PM GMT

Pros and cons of disaster recovery in the cloud

Christina Torode Christina Torode Profile: Christina Torode

Disaster recovery in the cloud is manna from heaven for some IT executives.

There’s no grappling over IT dollars for DR for a given project. The cost of DR is simply slipped in as part of the monthly subscription fee, whether the service is for a hosted application or hosted infrastructure.

Not too shabby. And, as far as cloud proponents are concerned, the providers are going to make sure that disaster recovery is a priority because their business models and reputations are built up (or ruined) if they don’t get DR right.

That’s a pretty big incentive for cloud providers, so it makes sense that their DR capabilities are going to be better than their customer’s.

That’s one way of looking at it. Another is that disaster recovery in the cloud could hurt — rather than help — your DR plans.

Some IT executives are ground-shipping their data to their cloud provider because they don’t want their data on a public network. They’re also afraid that, once the cloud provider has their data, they may lose access to it for a variety of reasons: the cloud provider’s employees could mishandle the data, or the company could experience a service disruption or even go out of business. Cloud provider outages do not exactly make a case for disaster recovery in the cloud.

According to a blog post on ReadWrite Cloud on the Top 5 cloud outages, “Mark Williams, a cloud computing consultant based out of the United Kingdom, found 23 reports of cloud computing failure in 2010. Google had 12 outages. Amazon had five. He reported that Microsoft had four outages. Salesforce.com had two.”

Laura Smith, features writer for SearchCIO.com, recently wrote about the top 10 public cloud risks, and while security was number one, availability made the list, too.

“It’s all about quality, not about low-cost services anymore,” Lalitendu Panda, global CIO of D&M Holdings Inc., pointed out in Smith’s story. “Interruption of service is an issue; we have had a couple of situations. It’s not like having your own [infrastructure] that you can modify. You have no control over what else is running on the cloud that could degrade performance.”

If the company can afford to lose access to an application, it would seem that disaster recovery in the cloud is a moot point. As cloud providers push to accommodate more mission-critical applications, enterprises will inevitably lose access at some point.

But that happens anyway in some organizations. So maybe we should just call it a draw.

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