Best Practices for Disaster Recovery to the Cloud

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    The cloud revolution is in full swing. 61% of businesses migrated their data to the cloud in 2020, and cloud spending is now forecast to reach 14% of IT spending by 2024.¹

    Cloud services are helping businesses streamline workflows and reduce reliance on cumbersome on-premises infrastructure. Protecting data in the cloud also segments it from user workstations by “air gapping” critical data and keeping it off-premises. 

    Despite cloud adoption, 67% of businesses expect a data breach within a year. In short, neither cloud nor on-premises data is safe, as demonstrated by DropBox, who recently instructed users to keep additional backups in case their cloud is hacked.² Data loss can spell disaster for businesses that don’t formulate a robust lack the benefits of disaster recovery (DR) plan. 

    That’s why today we’re going to look at some of the best practices for disaster recovery to the cloud. Let’s get started.

    What is cloud disaster recovery?

    Business systems often rely on both local and cloud infrastructure to work correctly. If either is damaged, a business is likely to suffer costly downtime, reputational damage, and data loss. 

    Cloud disaster recovery (CDR) is the process of backing up both local and cloud data and applications to a public cloud, data centre, or dedicated service provider. By storing a clean, functional copy of all data, organisations can failover to their backup in the event of a disaster.

    Cloud disaster recovery protects businesses in a range of scenarios, such as: 

    • Technical failures: CDR protects against catastrophic technical failure resulting from internal or external factors, such as power surges, short circuits, and damage from faulty repairs and installations.
    • Natural disasters: Flooding, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, and other natural disasters can damage on-site infrastructure. 40% of SMBs never reopen after experiencing damage from a natural disaster. 
    • Human errors: Data loss from human error accounts for a staggering 88% of cloud breaches.³ Inadequate password security, connecting to services from insecure public networks, and poor IT hygiene can expose local and cloud data. 
    • Threat actors: Internal and external threat actors can leak account and password data. Spear phishing, brute force, and modern ransomware attacks can expose both local and cloud data.

    The importance of cloud disaster recovery

    According to Gartner, network downtime costs as much as $5,600 per minute at enterprise level, ⁴ whereas 60% of smaller businesses close within just six months of being hacked.

    The damage inflicted by catastrophic data loss is reputational as well as financial. In many jurisdictions, businesses are obliged to contact customers and clients to alert them if their data is lost. This sometimes leads to significant compensation payouts and criminal proceedings. For example, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Facebook to pay an eye-watering $5 billion for failing to notify 530 million users of a data breach.

    Backing up to the cloud reduces dependencies on physical infrastructure, which tends to be the most vulnerable, and it also enables businesses to back up their cloud data to an external cloud. It’s also possible to back up both local and cloud data, replicating virtual machines and complex on-site workloads in the process.

     

     

    Cloud disaster recovery best practices

    Cloud disaster recovery is not as simple as scheduling regular data backups and loading lost data back into systems and applications. In fact, some 60% of cloud backups are incomplete, and 50% fail.

    By implementing some of the following best practices in their cloud disaster recovery strategy, businesses can work to ensure they avoid becoming one of those statistics.

    #1 Find the right provider

    A skilled cloud DR service provider will support most business infrastructure, backing up both physical and cloud workloads for seamless failover. It’s also essential to choose a provider that audits your systems, e.g. by routinely scanning for ransomware/malware. 

    Remember, every organisation has different needs. The right provider will understand that and provide a bespoke disaster recovery solution accordingly.

    #2 Layout RPO and RTO for your disaster recovery plan

    Disaster recovery planning is typically analysed through two metrics — Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). 

    • Recovery Point Objective (RPO): The maximum quantity of data the business can tolerate losing. RPO varies from hours to minutes or “near-zero”, where backup and recovery are seamless. Data-critical businesses require the lowest RPO possible. 
    • Recovery Time Objective (RTO): The time businesses must restore business functions to avoid serious disruption. Data-critical businesses require the lowest RTO possible. 

    While getting business systems online as soon as possible is ideal, this places strain on IT architecture, especially in the case of complex distributed IT systems. It’s crucial to find an effective sweet spot for both RPO and RTO.

    #3 Encrypt data

    It’s crucial to encrypt business data both at rest and in motion. This is vital when backing up on-premises data to the cloud. 

    AES 256-bit encryption combined with automated malware and ransomware scanning ensures data security throughout the backup process.

    #4 Regularly test and update your plan

    As business IT infrastructure evolves, so does CDR. New systems need to be tested and updated to take advantage of backup infrastructure. 

    Business-critical data should be backed up regularly. That’s why it’s vital to identify what data that is and prioritise it in your backup plan. Then, audit your backups to discover how quickly and efficiently you can get your systems back online for different grades of data breach and loss.

    #5 Utilise disaster recovery as a service

    Taking care of disaster recovery in-house can be expensive and cumbersome. In addition, many businesses cannot purchase storage space in state-of-the-art off-site data centres or invest in secure on-site backup applications.

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) seeks to resolve these issues, allowing businesses access to the backup and restore infrastructure they need. DRaaS is flexible, operating as a service-level agreement on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. 

    By replicating on-site and cloud workloads in a recovery infrastructure, businesses can failover to the cloud backup and restore in the event of disaster or data loss. DRaaS is also quick and efficient to set up, and bespoke options are available to larger businesses with complex on-site workloads of large quantities of data. 

    Disaster recovery providers build tailor-made plans that cater to businesses of all sizes, enabling them to take advantage of a range of associated benefits, including:

    • Rapid recovery: By using state-of-the-art infrastructure and backup applications, DRaaS providers can recover backups rapidly and decrease downtime. Data can be returned on a file, folder, full-system, or bare-metal basis.
    • Cost-effectiveness: Compared to building one’s own backup infrastructure, DRaaS is cost-effective. Moreover, DRaaS enables access to cutting-edge infrastructure and security technology that is otherwise inaccessible to most businesses. 
    • Scalability: DRaaS enables access to powerful, scalable technology that expands as a business’s data needs evolve. Flexible plans ensure that businesses only pay for what they need. 
    • Improved security: Storing encrypted backups in state-of-the-art off-site data centres reduces the risk of data loss to ransomware and malware. In addition, any damage inflicted on on-premises workstations is not replicated to the backup.

    Start your DRaaS journey

    By backing up cloud and on-premises data, DR strategies can help businesses minimise the reputational and financial damage posed by catastrophic data loss. 

    DRaaS enables businesses to access state-of-art cloud disaster recovery infrastructure and technology, helping them reduce the risk of downtime regardless of how their systems are distributed.

    Working with Nexstor’s consultants who guide you through complex decision-making processes can help ensure an effective DRaaS solution for your organisation. Get in touch with Nexstor to start that journey today.


    ¹ Tech Jury – How Many Companies Use Cloud Computing in 2022? All You Need To Know

    ² DropBox – Protecting your data from ransomware

    ³ FinTech Times – 88% of cloud breaches are human error 

     Gartner – The Cost of Downtime

     Cybersecurity Ventures – 60% of small businesses close within 6 months of being hacked 

     NPR – Facebook to pay $5 billion to FTC

     Web Tribunal Backup Statistics 

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    Rob Townsend

    Rob Townsend

    Rob is a co-founder at Nexstor and has dedicated his career to helping a range of organisations from SME to Enterprise to get ahead of the game when it comes to their compute, storage and data needs.

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