By Fred Tanzella, CEO of Cirracore, a VMware-based Enterprise Cloud IaaS Provider
Legacy Backup/Recovery or Cloud Replication for Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BCDR), which is right for your business? Often the two terms are intermixed, but they provide uniquely different capabilities. As an Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider, Cirracore provides both Cloud Replication and Cloud Backup/Recovery to it’s customers, but typically to solve different business problems.
To protect Business Continuity (BC) against a catastrophic event, whether it is a weather event, terrorism, or a database crash, legacy backup systems would backup production data and then offload them to tape for offsite storage. In the event of a catastrophic failure in a legacy backup/recovery system, the tapes would be recovered from off-site and the production system would be restored. This process could take hours or days to bring the production system back up resulting from a catastrophic event. Cloud backup is an important technology today, but in some cases may be more suited for backup/recovery functions and not necessarily for business continuity/disaster recovery.
Cloud Replication technology provides for continuous replication to a diverse geographic location specifically for BCDR.
Cloud Replication is a technology to protect against a catastrophic event or disaster by replicating or reproducing the servers and storage to a geographically diverse location allowing the systems to fail over and be back up in the new location in minutes. For example, if the primary location for a company’s production systems is on the East Coast or West Coast, a desired geographic location to replicate to ensure business continuity would be the Central U.S. in order to be far enough away from anything from a terrorist attack to a hurricane and meet regulatory requirements for HIPPA and government regulated enterprises. Alternatively, if the primary processing location was in the Central U.S., a desired replication target would be a location on the East or West Coast.
There are several Cloud Replication technologies. Cirracore employs a hypervisor-based replication technology for VMware® environments that provides continuous replication and without snapshots which can slow down the production environment. Continuous Cloud Replication provides the shortest RTO/RPO available and a failover event can be accomplished in typically less than 15 minutes. A major benefit of the technology Cirracore utilizes for Cloud Replication provides the ability to fully test and verify the failover without affecting the production environment. Many replication technologies require you to actually failover to test the failover, and speaking from experience, is not the most desirable technology as you will be holding your breath during each failover test…
Cirracore provides continuous replication to many customers, large and small that have made it a priority to have a functioning business continuity and disaster recovery solution with a minimum Recovery Time Objective and Recovery Point Objective (RTO/RPO) to minimize any downtime during a catastrophic event.
Cloud Replication costs are typically a quarter to half of what the customer would pay for a primary cloud environment making it an affordable option for most companies.
Cloud Backup can provide two broad solutions. Backup/recovery of local systems to a cloud-based system, or backup/recovery of cloud-based systems to a cloud-based backup to be restored. Backup/recovery systems use point-in-time data so there is a retention policy (how many and how long backups will be stored) that determines the amount of data backed up that can be restored from. Most backup/recovery systems employ compression technologies that greatly reduce the amount of data stored. An example retention policy would be one month where a full backup would be performed every seven days and incremental backups on each of other days, giving four full backups per month. Additionally, backup/recovery systems can also write to tape for offsite storage for data that must be kept for longer periods of archival.
An example of backup/recovery of a local system to a cloud-based system would be a company with multiple locations that have local production servers and storage on-site in each location, making them vulnerable to a disaster at any of the locations. These remote locations could be distribution centers of the company for example, and could use cloud backup to protect their production servers and storage from anything ranging from a fire to flooding. Each distribution center would have their own retention policy and would backup/restore independently. If there was a catastrophic event in any of the centers, that center would restore its data from the cloud.
Cloud Backup/recovery or Cloud Replication, which one is right for your company?
Speaking as an unbiased Enterprise Cloud vendor, the answer is both of course! In actuality, most of Cirracore’s customers that utilize cloud replication also employ cloud backup, but use them for different functions. Customers use cloud replication for Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery to meet short RTO/RPO by having the ability to failover to a geographically diverse location in order to continue production processing in the event of a disaster in minutes. Those same customers utilize cloud backup to restore a database, for example, from a point in time prior to the database being corrupted or to restore files from a prior date.
Customers that need backup/recovery from remote locations utilize backup/recovery service as a DR strategy. Most of Cirracore’s Enterprise Cloud customers employ a backup/recovery service, but for backing up and restoring from point-in-time scenarios and not necessarily as a DR strategy.
In summary, both Cloud Replication and Cloud Backup/Recovery systems both provide critical solutions to problems facing companies, but provide different functionality to solve business problems.