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How the Cloud changes disaster recovery

An advantage of Cloud computing is the way it changes disaster recovery (DR), making it more cost-effective and lowering the bar for enterprises to deploy DR plans for their IT infrastructure, writes GRAHAM VORSTER, Head of Emerging Technologies and Alliances at T-Systems in South Africa.

Depending on the implementation of the source systems, DR into the Cloud can be as easy as replicating log files onto a database instance with low processing capability, which scales up in the event of a disaster. More complex solutions do require more work, but most requirements can be satisfied.

Our solutions inherently offer DR options, and clients can choose to either utilise synchronised DR within the whole cloud, or opt for high availability. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and other entire company systems are mirrored in the cloud for enhanced redundancy and recovery capability.

One of our latest offerings is a dynamic services infrastructure, as opposed dynamic computer services, which is mainly aimed at our highly standardised services such as ERP. I am tremendously excited about the opportunities we have here in South Africa and I do see major growth in that.

With regard to the adoption of cloud services in South Africa, the challenges of data availability, bandwidth issues and the high cost of data are major issues. That said, this situation is currently resolving, with many initiatives in place to deliver more available, more affordable bandwidth. One example is the Metro Ethernet, available in major centres and capable of delivering high bandwidth at relatively low cost. The cloud is becoming increasingly viable and is beginning to make solid business sense for customers.

Despite barriers to entry being steadily removed, I believe some customers are going to take years to get into the cloud because of their own infrastructure issues. However, the need to incorporate good governance and compliance is driving the push for cloud computing and disaster recovery management.

For auditors, having tape-based backup simply is no longer sufficient. These backups are time consuming at best, meaning that in the event of a disaster companies could take weeks to get back up and running. In today’s fast-paced business world this could mean that they never fully recover, and fail completely. Tape-based backup does not deliver the comprehensive data recovery strategy that cloud solutions are able to.

Bringing DR strategies in-house also represents a significant cost for companies, as they often do not have adequate data centre infrastructure, and building this infrastructure is sometimes not financially viable. While organisations need to include DR into their backup strategy, cost reduction and flexibility are also an issue. In light of these challenges, the need for DR is practically forcing companies to look at cloud computing as an option.

Incorporating DR as part of a cloud initiative has several other benefits as well. Cloud solutions have a very small footprint, particularly in terms of power usage, and the processing required in a shared environment means that organisations do not require a vast amount of infrastructure. The bonus of course is that you only pay for what you use, offering enhanced flexibility and scalability to grow with the organisation as needs require. This is a model that most companies find very attractive in these tough economic times. While organisations in South Africa may have been slow to adopt cloud services, in the long run, DR in the cloud is going to be a very cost effective way of reaching compliance and governance goals.

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