Any organisation considering moving applications to the cloud will begin with the questions: when is the right time and what services should we move? If you can extend the life of your existing infrastructure while reviewing your options in the medium term, a useful first step is to move your Disaster Recovery (DR) to the cloud.
There are three strategic benefits to this. First, it enables you to try out cloud at a lower risk than moving your production environment. You can thoroughly test systems and learn how appropriate your services are for the cloud without having to compromise service delivery to users and customers. Secondly, there is a very practical benefit – by consolidating your passive DR environment into your existing production infrastructure, you get more production capacity and potentially extend the life of your current systems.
Thirdly, once the cloud environment has been set up and tested your costs are significantly reduced. Both AWS and Azure offer on demand services which allow you to stop virtual machines, which means that you don’t need to pay for them. You only pay only for your data storage (plus any replication costs) until you fail over. This means that you only pay for what you use and when you use it.
One organisation which used cloud very effectively for DR is Team BFK, one of the engineering consortia building infrastructure for London’s Crossrail. They used cloud-based DR via Fordway infrastructure in two UK data centres to provide storage and back-up respectively. We provided a ‘warm standby’ recovery service, and in the event of a problem could bring all systems back online within 30 minutes to two hours.
So it’s definitely worth considering cloud when reviewing your DR strategy. Moving to cloud is a more complex transition than other infrastructure change projects, particularly if most of your IT services are currently provided in-house. Beginning with DR offers a useful and low risk starting point to move other services to cloud in the future.