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John Keller

Director, Product Management at Comcast Business

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Direct Connections to the Cloud Can Speed Disaster Recovery

May 16, 2018

Direct connectivity goes well beyond doing a restore, it also enables an efficient, speedy process for replicating data to backup sites.

Every organization needs a business continuity strategy. When it comes to hardware failure, human error, natural disaster or cyber-attack, it’s not a matter of if but when you’ll need to execute your disaster recovery (DR) plan. Any of these scenarios can cause downtime and possibly data loss, and if you can’t recover critical data from a backup, the consequences are potentially devastating.

No matter the cause, downtime is expensive. A 2017 study found that one hour of downtime costs 95 percent of enterprises more than $100,000, while 50 percent said the cost is much higher, exceeding $300,000. Considering the price tag, it’s easy to see why companies need to avoid downtime at all costs—and when it occurs, the faster you recover your data and resume operations, the more likely you are to keep costs to a minimum.

That’s why enterprises rely more and more on cloud-based backup and DR systems for business continuity. Traditional disk- and tape-based data backup systems typically take longer to complete a restore than cloud-based platforms. Cloud-based solutions also make it easier to prioritize which files to restore first.

However, data recovery from cloud-based platforms doesn’t just happen. Without a way of ensuring that infrastructure and data can be replicated to a secure location in the cloud, key information might not be available when an incident does occur. Without fast, secure connectivity, restore times can be just as time-consuming as with traditional backup systems. When implementing a cloud-based DR strategy enterprises mustn’t overlook connectivity.

Cloud Benefits

Companies turn to cloud-based backup and DR for most of the same reasons they adopt any cloud strategy. For one thing, it’s easier to provide 24/7 anytime/anywhere service when using a cloud infrastructure. Another major driver is the cloud’s elasticity, making it possible to turn resources on and off as needed, and it allows companies to scale their backup or DR environment as they grow.

Cloud deployments help control costs and make companies more agile, allowing them to innovate and to accelerate go-to-market plans to better compete in a dynamic, fast-evolving marketplace. All of this explains why, according to Gartner, 88 percent of organizations now have a “cloud first” strategy. The cloud has become the preferred option for IT investments.

When it comes to DR, there’s also the urgency to recover data rapidly following a disaster. And while it makes sense to use cloud-based backup and DR, enterprises must carefully plan for it, lest they end up with a service that falters when they need it most.

Enterprise environments are complex, increasingly combining on-premise resources with those in data centers and multiple clouds. Protecting individual workloads and the entire environment is no easy task, requiring IT administrators to prioritize what data has to be recovered first, setting recovery point objectives (RPO), which specify how far back in time to go to recover data, and determining recovery time objectives (RTO), which address how long it should take to recover. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to set those priorities and objectives without taking connectivity into consideration.

Speedy Connections

Because every second counts when recovering from an outage or data loss, enterprises need the speediest connections possible to perform data replication, backups and restores. Relying on public broadband connections isn’t ideal, especially if the outage affects other companies as in the case of a natural disaster, Speed and service availability are likely to be an issue.

To avoid such a scenario, enterprises should consider direct connectivity to cloud providers such as IBM Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Carriers such as Comcast Business now offer direct connectivity services bypassing the public Internet through business-grade dedicated Ethernet pipes to cloud providers. Taking advantage of such services can help ensure the prospect of a quick recovery when you most need it.

Direct connectivity addresses security while boasting speed and availability. It eliminates Internet latency issues that can interfere with workloads and, in the case of recovering data from a backup up, bog down the recovery.

Efficient Setup

Direct connectivity is useful not just when doing a restore. It also enables an efficient, speedy process for replicating data to backup sites. How often and which data you replicate depends on your company’s specific needs, but whatever your parameters, direct connectivity helps you do it better. And when the time comes to access that data, direct links to your cloud backups help you meet your RTOs and RPOs more effectively. So whenever developing or updating your business continuity strategy, make sure you take connectivity into account.

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