By DAVID LINTHICUM
Despite the hype that leads us to look at cloud computing as the new platform for critical applications, most enterprises
are not buying public cloud computing
systems as their primary platform for
business-critical applications. For now,
perhaps they are right to wait. That is,
until business continuity or disaster recovery (DR) becomes the next killer app for
The idea is simple. A busi-
ness continuity app will leverage
cloud computing platforms in
any combination of IaaS, PaaS,
and SaaS as systems that can
support the business during times
of outages or outright disasters.
This means you continue to
leverage on-premise systems for
day-to-day processing, but your
continuity of business strategy
will leverage cloud resources,
or in simpler terms, your cloud
resources are your “hot stand-
Backup systems exist today
and have been around for a long time.
When I built banking systems, there was
always a data center somewhere that had
an exact duplicate of the primary data
center, which could be turned on at any
time if the primary center went down or
was taken out by a natural disaster. While
it cost millions to stand up a back-up data
center, the cost of not having the business
continuing to function was in the millions
of dollars per hour.
Leveraging cloud computing resources
as back-up systems is nothing new, but
now we have a greater number of inno-
vative cloud-delivered systems to choose
from, providing everything from storage
to security, application processes and test-
ing, enterprise software, and complete
platforms, all on-demand. It’s now pos-
sible to build or port complete systems to
the cloud, but not for the purposes of elas-
ticity or cost reduction, but to provide a
pay-as-you-need-it platform that provides
all core information processing services
that can be turned on at any time.
computing providers: software-as-a-ser-vice (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS),
and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
While SaaS and PaaS are important to
the world of cloud computing, IaaS cloud
computing providers should be the focus
when considering DR.
IaaS providers typically offer up entire
platforms such as Linux, Windows, or
other operating environments within virtual spaces that are allocated to the users of
the IaaS provider. You leverage the infrastructure as if the infrastructure were in
your own data center, or under your desk.
You’re just doing so as a service, meaning
you only pay for the increments of use.
Keep in mind that cloud computing providers charge for different types of usage.
Some charge for storage used, others
charge per hour, and still others charge
per-bandwidth leveraged. Understand the
usage charges and service level agreements (SLAs), upon entering into the
agreement, and make certain the SLA
defines your performance expectations to
the cloud computing provider.
The second is the speed in stand-ing up a site, typically a month or
two to port and test the software.
Again, no need to purchase and
test hardware and software systems
or negotiate data center space that
can’t be collocated with your production systems.
Over and above the cost advantages, this is the true strategic
advantage of leveraging cloud
computing providers for DR. You
can become a cloud computing
customer today with a credit card,
or they typically provide a free trial
period or a certain level of usage
This “self provisioning” feature of
cloud computing is the real strategic
advantage when approaching DR. IT
can allocate and configure back-up sites
as needed without having to go through
waves of hardware and software procurements, or finding data center space which
is geographically correct.
Finally, there is the fact that most
cloud-computing systems are ubiquitous.
Thus, if you have access to a browser and
the Internet, then you can access your core
business systems and continue your business anywhere in the world. This is handy
Figure 1: Leveraging a cloud to provide a remote hot standby for
the primary center.
The DR Value of Cloud
First, the cost of leveraging cloud computing as part of your business continuity strategy. No data center investment is
required, or hardware and software costs
incurred. What’s more, you can turn it on
when needed, and they only bill you for
the resources you actually leverage. This
opens opportunities for businesses that
typically could not afford a back-up center.
The dollar estimate is that the cost is about
a fourth that of traditional backup sites,
mostly from ongoing operational savings.
There are three basic types of cloud