Whitepaper: Cloud the Great Equalizer for Business Continuity
Small and midsize business can now get back up and recovery levels that were once available only to large, deep-pocketed organizations.
Cloud services are gaining fresh attention for their business-continuity advantages. One basic draw is the redundant nature of the cloud platform itself. Cloud services run on geographically diverse server clusters, in which a downed node automatically fails over to a live one. Users keep on working, unaffected and none the wiser.
Avoiding the steep costs of downtime is helping small and midsize businesses. The cloud means that for most companies, the costly, inefficient days of maintaining a redundant hot site for disaster recovery are behind them.
Hurricanes, floods and earthquakes: How to keep data safe
If your data lives with you on-site, it’s vulnerable to natural disasters. Keeping your data in the cloud, or using the cloud as a backup, helps protect your data from local events.
Most cloud services offer geo-redundant data centers. This means that they back up your data to more than one location. Here are four scenarios where the cloud makes a difference to your business continuity:
Hurricanes and tornadoes
If your business is in a hurricane or tornado zone, you might use ‘hardening’ to protect your servers. A hardened data center has hurricane shields for all windows and doors. The data center is on an upper floor and equipped with flood precautions such as pumps.
But, as Hurricane Sandy proved in 2012, even the best facility designs do little for protection when in the storm’s direct path. The storm tested the value of cloud services, colocation, and redundant facilities, proving that data is more secure when not tied to a single location.
Data center providers know how to protect infrastructure. “Racks need to be bolted down and use seismic restraints. The facility must have multiple layers of redundancy,” writes Jason Verge for Data Center Knowledge.
“While the facility may navigate through an earthquake, it’s the outside infrastructure that poses the biggest threat,” writes Verge.
Even if the data center provider is well-prepared, damage due to unexpected disasters can put data at risk. Verge recommends that data center customers have a second deployment outside of known fault zones.
One threat you might not think of is solar flares. During a solar the sun flings large amounts of energy and particles into space. If this discharge hits the earth, it can damage and destroy electrical systems. It is like an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
Precautions for geomagnetic storms are the same as for other disasters. This includes backup power supplies and a disaster recovery plan.
The most common reason for floods is sudden and unexpected rainstorms. And with the rise in sea levels, there is even more risk of floods in our future. If a data center is in the wrong place, even the best-made plan might not be enough to keep it online.
Companies outside of regular flood zones should also take note. Even dry Phoenix experienced record-breaking flash flooding following the largest single day’s rain ever.
According to Tony Surma, CTO of Microsoft Disaster Response, “Information is a basic need in disaster response. It's right up there with food, water, and shelter. That is driving use of the cloud.”
When data is stored in the cloud, companies can “rapidly deploy resources on demand and accommodate large spikes in traffic. This is regardless of local conditions,” says Surma.