How much cloud does an IT disaster recovery plan need?

BACKGROUND IMAGE: polygraphus/iStock

DR in the cloud is complex, so plan accordingly

To avert disaster, organizations look at all sorts of combinations of cloud-based and on-premises resources. It's understandable to an extent, but every move to advance your resiliency comes with complications, costs and catches.

A solid IT disaster recovery plan will almost certainly include some coverage from a cloud provider. Valuable information and mission-critical applications in your data center are protected to whatever degree your organization can keep them safe. And that will be fine -- until it's not. In a moment of crisis, where do you turn? Unless you've got a reasonably sophisticated second data center elsewhere, the business is in considerable peril.

Those moments of emergency are why cloud computing is so appealing for disaster recovery (DR), as cloud expert Brian Kirsch explains in this handbook's lead article. The idea is that you sync your data and have some VMs ready to go in an environment managed by a trusted cloud provider. If your data center fails, then those cloud-based resources come riding to the rescue -- right?

Kirsch explains that this premise is correct, but only if you've gone to the trouble -- and the expense – to do things properly. Your IT disaster recovery plan needs to be thorough enough that you are sure your data is not just protected from whatever afflicted your on-premises environment, but also quickly recoverable from its off-premises safe haven. Doing this is neither simple nor cheap.

DR in the cloud is possible, and, in most cases, it is perfectly sensible. Just don't expect it to be easy.