What Is Disaster Recovery In Cloud Computing (2023)?

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Last Updated on April 10, 2023 by Ashish

Introduction

In this era of technological revolution, the cloud computing concept and disaster recovery have become more intriguing among IT companies. According to the reports of IDC, worldwide cloud services show a substantial growth of 29% in revenue over one year from 2020 to 2021 [1].

As seen in Figure 1, cloud computing services enable customers to access any data and information via the internet from anywhere in the world. Due to its rapid development and flexible nature, cloud services have been chosen by many enterprises to secure their data in the event of natural disasters or hardware/software failures [2].

Disaster Recovery In Cloud Computing
Figure 1. Concept of Cloud Computing

According to a study conducted by IBM, natural disasters e.g., earthquakes, floods, and cyclones contributed 50% of total failures within an industry, with the remaining 50% occurring due to other causes such as hardware failures, interrupted power supply, bugs, and glitches, and so on.

Many prominent firms, such as IBM, Azure, Zerto, and VMware, provide Disaster Recovery services to various organizations and ensure data security at various levels. For example, IBM provides three different types of plans in exchange for their Disaster Recovery services: Gold, Silver, and Bronze [2].

These three Disaster Recovery plans represent the level of service quality provided to clients in terms of service cost, speed of recovery, and Disaster Recovery time. Many software corporations offer various forms of cloud computing services, like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).

Brief Overview of Disaster Recovery (DR)

The phrase Disaster Recovery refers to the designed practices of backing up resources and information to a cloud location. In layman’s terms, a disaster recovery system is essentially a subscription service provided by a third-party company to secure the resources of other businesses as a backup in a cloud platform [3].

Disaster Recovery aids in the reduction or prevention of data loss caused by natural disasters, military conflict, and destruction, terrorist attacks, riots. Since a catastrophe is an unforeseeable event that can occur at any time, many corporations used to invest a significant portion of their budget on Cloud Disaster Recovery systems each year [4]. The steps of implementing the Cloud Disaster Recovery plan are illustrated in Figure 2.

Disaster Recovery In Cloud Computing
Figure 2. Cloud Disaster Recovery Plan In Cloud Computing

Disaster Recovery is also referred to as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), whose primary goal is to ensure business continuity and return to pre-disaster conditions after an unexpected disruption. Disaster Recovery planning also aids in reducing the parameters of Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) along with cost and latency [3].

Importance of Cloud Disaster Recovery (DR)

Based on a survey conducted by the Uptime Institute [5] in 2020, approximately half of the organizations faced a serious crisis due to power failure, which eventually hampered their businesses. Many small and medium-sized businesses may not have a disaster recovery strategy in place. Without such Disaster Recovery strategies, their important resources are unprotected and vulnerable to any disruptive events.

Furthermore, the loss of infrastructure failure can cost up to one million US dollars every hour owing to a lack of Disaster Recovery management. In most situations, many businesses cannot afford such huge losses. As a result, 40% of small businesses will close permanently, and of those who can survive, 25% of them will give up within one year of the outage, while the rest will take a long time to recover to their prior position [4].

Such risks and dangers can be considerably reduced with efficient disaster recovery planning. Disaster Recovery helps businesses quickly retrieve their resources from cloud storage and resume back to its normal operations [6].

Cloud Disaster Recovery v/s Traditional Disaster Recovery

Cloud Disaster Recovery has certain potential merits that outperform Traditional Recovery systems in many aspects. Traditional Recovery is a complex and costly approach that is heavily reliant on on-premise resources [6]. Traditional models are classified into two types: specialized approach and shared approach. These two approaches differ in terms of cost and recovery time.

The dedicated strategy has a shorter recovery time but a higher cost, whereas the shared approach has a lower cost but a longer recovery time. Cloud Disaster Recovery compensates for the disadvantages of both traditional models and aggregates the benefits together, resulting in lower costs and shorter recovery times. Figure 3 clearly depicts the advantages of Cloud Disaster Recovery over Traditional Disaster Recovery [2].

Let us now go over the benefits and drawbacks of both cloud and Traditional Disaster Recovery systems in greater detail. The following are the essential characteristics of the Traditional Disaster Recovery model [6].

  • In Traditional Disaster Recovery, all the resources are stored in a separate secondary storage space like a hard disk, and external data center space for all needed employees, equipment, and infrastructure.
  • Traditional Disaster Recovery allows quick and easy access to secondary data storage.
  • Traditional Disaster Recovery does not necessitate such abilities or in-depth IT understanding. Basic computer and internet skills are necessary.
  • Traditional Disaster Recovery is an offline process, no internet connection is needed.
  • Traditional Disaster Recovery confirms data availability and establishes a reliable link between two data spaces.
  • Here are some of the demerits of Traditional Disaster Recovery [6].
  • Traditional Disaster Recovery requires additional equipment to expand the server capacity in order to store the data. Purchasing equipment can be costly and time-consuming. Therefore, Traditional Disaster Recovery is less scalable
  • Traditional Disaster Recovery is highly complex and expensive due to the involvement of external devices.
  • The traditional Disaster Recovery system is not always safe, since the secondary physical backup location may also get damaged due to hardware/software failures, accidents, natural disasters, system malfunction, etc.
  • Traditional Disaster Recovery necessitates extensive maintenance and monitoring, as managing a local recovery site can be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive.
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery can be beneficial in the following ways as shown in Figure 4 [6].
  • The cost is less because the local site is absent in the case of Cloud Disaster Recovery.
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery provides more scalability.
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery does not require any extra data storage devices. Cloud Disaster Recovery makes use of current infrastructure as secondary backup space.
  • The recovery speed is very high in Cloud Disaster Recovery.
  • Using Cloud Disaster Recovery, the user can back up their resources in multiple locations. As a result, single-point failure is not a significant issue in Cloud Disaster Recovery.
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery is a highly adaptable approach. Any lost data can be restored from the cloud storage in a matter of minutes from any place using the Cloud Disaster Recovery solution.
  • No maintenance is required for Cloud Disaster Recovery because the cloud service-providing companies take care of the support, updates, maintenance, and security.
Disaster Recovery In Cloud Computing
Figure 3. Cloud Disaster Recovery v/s Traditional Recovery

Threats and Challenges of Cloud Disaster Recovery

In this section, we will now focus on some threats and challenges associated with Cloud Disaster Recovery. Apart from the significant advantages listed in the previous section, some of the shortcomings of Cloud Disaster Recovery are investigated as follows [2].

  • Cloud Disaster Recovery is a web-based online technique that requires a stable internet connection. Hence, network issues, power outages, or a fault in the internet connection could be problematic for Cloud Disaster Recovery.
  • The data backup in the Cloud Disaster Recovery process is under the surveillance of service providers. If the service providers wish to steal some documents or confidential information from the cloud storage, it is easily accessible to the vendors. Therefore, Cloud Disaster Recovery highly depends on the customer’s faith and makes it more challenging to select a trusted service provider.
  • Customers are not the only ones who may access data and operate the system; the resources are also under the supervision of service providers as well. Customers should rely on Cloud Disaster Recovery providers in the event of data loss or other major concerns.
  • Failure detection could be viewed as a potential issue that slows down the overall process of Cloud Disaster Recovery. For numerous backup locations, determining the reason for failure is quite challenging.
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery systems are not always safe from certain types of calamities. Cyber-terrorism attacks often known as hacking is a type of man-made disaster where hackers may strike and try to steal vital information virtually.
  • Replication delay assists Cloud Disaster Recovery mechanisms in completing the backup process and is thus an important aspect of Cloud Disaster Recovery.
  • The initial cost of taking the Cloud Disaster Recovery subscription may be high. The vendors selling the Cloud Disaster Recovery services offer different pricing models which may be a little bit expensive for small firms. The annual Cloud Disaster Recovery cost can be categorized in three ways.
  • A. Cost of processing, storage, and data transmission.
  • B. Cost of monthly/yearly subscription or remuneration.
  • C. Cost of recovering the lost data.
  • A Cloud Disaster Recovery plan necessitates strong IT expertise to handle the entire system. Before implementing the mechanisms with upgraded technologies, appropriate planning and testing are required.
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery might be challenging to transition from one service provider to another. Due to the enormous amount of data and information, switching to another cloud vendor is difficult if a problem emerges with the current Disaster Recovery service.
Disaster Recovery In Cloud Computing
Figure 4. Benefits of Cloud Disaster Recovery Plan

Cloud Disaster Recovery Solutions

In the last segment, we discussed some of the threats and challenges that may arise while building a Cloud Disaster Recovery plan. In this section, we will look at the remedies and solutions to get rid of the aforementioned Cloud Disaster Recovery [2].

  • Local backup is the solution to the dependence problem in Cloud Disaster Recovery. The customers may take the assistance of a Linux box to store the data and resources in a separate location apart from the cloud space through a secure channel. This will help the customers while migrating from one Disaster Recovery service provider to another.
  • As previously stated, Cloud Disaster Recovery is not completely safe from all types of disasters, therefore Local backup can also serve the purposes of business continuity during cyber-attacks and hacking incidents. Moreover, in case of network issues, power failures, or other internet disputes, local backup can be more useful than Cloud Disaster Recovery.
  • Multiple geographical location concepts have to be introduced in Cloud Disaster Recovery management. In this concept, two or more cloud zones are created as a replication of each other. If the primary zone fails for any reason, secondary zones will take over and continue to offer services without interruption.
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery system should be integrated with Inter-Private Cloud Storage (IPCS) to boost the data integration by allowing the facility to interact with the backup sites. In this technology, three geographical locations are required to store the business’s data; servers, Local Backup Servers (LBS), and Remote Backup Servers (RBS).
  • In the Cloud Disaster Recovery system, a public cloud has been set up to access all the information and data by the users. The private clouds are built within the public cloud area for local backup and are connected to some servers and LBS, while an additional IPCS is formed within the public cloud connecting the private clouds and the RBS. Figure 5 depicts the entire IPCS system in detail.
Disaster Recovery In Cloud Computing
Figure 5. Inter-Private Cloud Storage (IPCS) Concept

Another method for overcoming the dangers of Cloud Disaster Recovery is dual-role operation. In this method, each storage space can act as a primary host for some requirements, and simultaneously serve as a backup or secondary host for other requests. If somehow any failure occurs, the primary host becomes inaccessible, and the secondary host resumes the process and fulfills all the responsibilities in place of the primary host.

In this Cloud Disaster Recovery solution, users first send a signal to the secondary site, followed by sending those requests to the original site from the backup server. After processing the request, a log is sent back from the primary site to the secondary site, and the clients eventually receive a response from the primary server. Figure 6 clearly illustrates the overall architecture.

Disaster Recovery In Cloud Computing
Figure 6. The architecture of Dual Role Operation

Types of Disaster Recovery-Based Platforms

In this section, some of the best Disaster Recovery solutions are listed. The following Disaster Recovery software has been adopted by many internationally reputed organizations around the world. Some of them are as follows [7].

Zerto:

Zerto Disaster Recovery tool offers an all-in-one platform service including cloud mobility, Disaster Recovery, and backup. It is an IT-resilient tool that minimizes risks associated with the Cloud Disaster Recovery process.

Features: Transferring assets and workloads across public, private, and hybrid clouds are possible; Dynamic automation features; It is integrated with different Cloud Disaster Recovery services.

Pros: It supports a variety of cloud services; It can convert between different types of cloud services like VMware, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Hyper-V.

Cons: supporting framework is difficult to configure; There is no safeguard for non-virtualized resources; It is costly.

Carbonite:

The Carbonite Disaster Recovery tool is appropriate for firms that use IBM systems. It provides automatic cloud backup with a mission of protecting critical data and recovery.

Features: Custom backup strategies for multiple items; operating system protection and simple central hub management.

Pros: Customer support is good; installation of additional software is not needed; unlimited access to server licenses, initial price is less.

Cons: Only Mac OS X and Windows are supported; it may be time-consuming; there is no third-party cloud support

Arcserve:

Arcserve Disaster Recovery tool is designed in a simple way to deliver the required security and performance for the customers. There is no additional charge for a VPN.

Features: Very simple setup; it does not require any hardware to support RTOs/RPOs.

Pros: The speed of recovery and backup is very high; it ensures trustworthy data security.

Cons: It is specifically designed for Microsoft operating system; a bare metal recovery option is absent.

Veritas:

Veritas Disaster Recovery tool came up with a Disaster Recovery solution that seamlessly maximizes data protection and recovery services by replicating the data to multiple remote locations.

Features: It is an integrated and scalable solution; the policy-based management of Veritas Disaster Recovery solution is centralized; this product is available on a convergent platform.

Pros: Protection of workloads; increased productivity; minimal administration is required.

Cons: Backup for specific virtual servers cannot always be completed while they are online, when an error arises during the backup process, manual interference is required.

List of providers of Cloud Disaster Recovery services [7].

IBM:

IBM Disaster Recovery service can be managed and controlled from a single location and is designed to assist businesses in managing and securing their data. The disaster recovery process in VMware or Hyper-V environments is very easy with the IBM Disaster Recovery service.

Veeam:

Veeam is a complete disaster recovery and backup service for virtual, physical, and cloud-based applications. It is ideal for large-scale virtual data protection solutions.

Acronis:

The Acronis Disaster Recovery solution is tailored to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and is incredibly straightforward to implement due to its unique interface. It safeguards data in any environment and ensures fast recovery.

Microsoft Azure:

Azure Disaster Recovery is the cloud service offered by the giant technology industry Microsoft Corporation. It is the best alternative for businesses looking to safeguard important workloads based on VMware and Hyper-V. Azure Disaster Recovery integrates seamlessly with standard Microsoft stack-enabled system centers.

Conclusion

This article provides a basic introduction and overview of the Cloud Disaster Recovery concept. The main finding reveals that Disaster Recovery service is extremely important for any business. Any size industry, from small to large, should embrace the concept of Disaster Recovery in order to protect their crucial data and secret information virtually in the cloud environment from natural or man-made disasters.

This article attempted to cover the majority of the essential information about Disaster Recovery management. The first introductory section discusses the fundamentals of cloud computing, its significance, and different companies offering cloud computing services.

The next section covers the fundamental concepts of the Cloud Disaster Recovery solution. This section fully defines the Cloud Disaster Recovery system and the steps to implement the Cloud Disaster Recovery strategy. The third segment emphasizes the significance of incorporating Cloud Disaster Recovery into business models.

In the fourth section, an argument has been established highlighting the benefits of Cloud Disaster Recovery over Traditional Disaster Recovery. The advantages and disadvantages of Traditional Disaster Recovery systems are also explored, followed by the significant benefits of Cloud Disaster Recovery, which ultimately outperforms Traditional Disaster Recovery in many respects.

The next part i.e., the fifth segment examines the threats and challenges that may be encountered while establishing the Cloud Disaster Recovery model, followed by the remedies and solutions to overcome those problems in the sixth unit.

The seventh unit enlisted some of the leading Cloud Disaster Recovery solutions and trusted service providers. Each of the Disaster Recovery solutions has its own pros and cons, and similar things happen with the service provider as well. As a result, the customers should choose a suitable Disaster Recovery plan according to their needs and infrastructure based on pricing models and embedded system types.

References

  1. Mass, N. (29th June 2022). Worldwide Public Cloud Services Revenues Grew 29.0% to $408.6 Billion in 2021, According to IDC. International Data Corporation (IDC). https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS49420022 (Retrieved on 23rd November, 2022)
  2. Khoshkholghi, M.A., Abdullah, A., Latip, R., Subramaniam, S., Othman, M. (2014). Disaster Recovery in Cloud Computing: A Survey. Computer and Information Science, Vol. 7, No. 4, PP. 39-54. http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/cis.v7n4p39
  3. Techopedia. (2022). Cloud Disaster Recovery. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/26439/cloud-disaster-recovery (Retrieved on 23rd November, 2022)
  4. IBM Cloud Education. (6th September 2019). Disaster Recovery. IBM. https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/disaster-recovery-introduction#toc-disaster-r-r7SZeLbu (Retrieved on 23rd November, 2022)
  5. Uptime Institute. (2020). 2020 Data Center Industry Survey Results. https://uptimeinstitute.com/2020-data-center-industry-survey-results (Retrieved on 23rd November, 2022)
  6. Cloudian. (2022). Understanding Disaster Recovery in the Cloud. https://cloudian.com/guides/disaster-recovery/understanding-disaster-recovery-in-the-cloud/ (Retrieved on 23rd November, 2022)
  7. Software Testing Help. (25th October 2022). Top 6 BEST Disaster Recovery Services & Software Companies 2022. https://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/best-disaster-recovery-services-and-software-tools/ (Retrieved on 24th November, 2022)