Drastic Measures Forestall Data Disasters

Posted on September 27, 2017

Draa Stic Measures Forestall Data Disasters

As our world continues to turn towards digital, it becomes increasingly vulnerable to failures of computer systems. This is a significant business risk, but the extent of damage an IT outage can cause to an enterprise can be restricted by good disaster recovery systems.

Whether through natural disasters, cyber-attacks or system faults, nobody is immune to digital disasters, as Australians have learnt through a series of major incidents involving high-profile organisations.

In September 2016, for example, the Australian Stock Exchange lost over $3 billion in trades after its systems were taken offline by a hardware failure that affected its main database.

Then in December, the Australian Taxation Office was hit by the failure of "a large number of core internal and external systems", also caused by hardware issues. After two subsequent crashes in following months, the ATO announced in June 2017 it would completely rebuild its internal IT infrastructure.

The threat posed to Australia by cyber-crime—for example, through ransomware and DDoS—continues to grow and has impacted organisations ranging from small businesses, up to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Get ready

Preparing for the eventuality of a sudden loss of IT systems is an essential part of responsible management. Even for small businesses, simply having a backup copy of data isn’t enough. Businesses need a working version of their systems they can immediately access.

Fortunately, a revolution in disaster recovery technology has reduced what was once a complex, expensive and time-consuming task to an accessible and affordable commodity, disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS).

Tech research firm Gartner says the global market for DRaaS is currently in a explosive growth phase, and will nearly triple over the next two years. By 2018, Gartner says, the number of organisations using DRaaS will have overtaken the number of those still using traditional recovery approaches.  

Way we were

Disaster recovery has traditionally been a technically and financially challenging exercise. In a typical scenario, an organisation would maintain both a primary computer system and a second. This additional one would be a separate set of software and hardware at a separate site to provide backup should the main site fail.

This approach requires a major investment in resources such as additional premises, servers, storage, software licences, bandwidth, manpower and training.

In contrast, DRaaS involves the provision of a cloud-based disaster recovery service by an external vendor. The many advantages this model offers have driven the rapid uptake in DRaaS, and include:

Cost: Flexible pay-as-you-go pricing models for a service hosted on cloud servers mean big savings in both capital expenditure and overheads, freeing up more resources for enterprises to focus on their core business.

Time: DRaaS dramatically reduces the time it takes to recover IT systems, as well as slashing the data history which may be lost from days to seconds.

Expertise: Small to medium-sized businesses may not have the technical ability to manage complex disaster recovery scenarios, whereas DRaaS typically includes 24/7 access to expert assistance.

Scalability: DRaaS can be rapidly scaled up or down to meet changing business needs. The almost limitless flexibility of cloud computing allows an organisation to deploy as many virtual servers and recovery sites as required.  

Different models: Businesses can choose from a range of DRaaS options, ranging from ‘DIY’—where the vendor provides access to DRaaS functionality managed largely by the client—to a model where the vendor assumes responsibility for planning, set-up, configuration, maintenance and monitoring.  

Testing times

One massive advantage of DRaaS over traditional disaster recovery is ease of testing. As Tanya Reilly, a site reliability engineer at Google, says: "If you have backups but you haven't tested restoring them, you don't really have backups."

When testing traditional disaster recovery systems, a major risk is that something will go wrong and actually create a disaster.

However, a DRaaS service can be quickly and easily tested without impacting production systems or business routines. And a DRaaS environment can potentially also be used as a sandbox for testing of patches, upgrades or new software.

Offering so many benefits at such low cost, DRaaS is fast becoming a standard component of most enterprise IT systems. However, with latency and performance being key considerations for any cloud-based solutions, the support a good telco will always be an integral part of DraaS. Speak to Vocus about how a state-of-the-art disaster recovery service can help safeguard your IT resources.

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