It was surprising to see so many big-name sites impacted earlier this week by Hurricane Sandy. Huffington Post, Gawker (still down), Gizmodo (still down), BuzzFeed all went down, just to name a few high-profile players. Even sites like JFK Airport, a key place for information in a time of disruption, lacked a backup plan and is still down as of publication.
Data centers are more virtual than ever and cloud computing allows us to host our data center assets off-premise in remote, distributed cloud computing venues. Why did anyone need to suffer an outage because of locality? They didn’t.
We get caught up in cloud computing as a way to scale up and down inexpensively and easily, a sort of disposable resource, but this event demonstrated clearly the benefit of cloud as disaster recovery…cloud as risk mitigation.
Before you think the cloud vendors are just as vulnerable, they fragment and distribute data across multiple data centers, reducing the risk of disaster, even one as widespread as Hurricane Sandy.
Beyond cloud vendors, many companies deploy cloud solutions either on-premise (and often geographically distributed), or as a hybrid model of on and off premise, depending on risk and cost strategies. These solutions bring strong risk mitigation if thought through.
This isn’t a concept without challenges. Using a cloud solution for disaster recovery means being able to stand up systems after an event in a new environment that will still have access to the cloud data, sufficient bandwidth, offer authentication, and still allow for applications to function remotely or locally. Those aren’t trivial requirements, but can be overcome with a smart, tested plan.
Hurricane Sandy was just the event to prove the benefit of cloud as a risk mitigation. Between Sandy and the really obvious benefits of performance, cost savings and elasticity, cloud may have gotten a big boost from Mother Nature.