Disaster Recovery: How to Keep Your IT Infrastructure Up and Running on the Cloud
May 2, 2023
In the tech world, disaster recovery refers to the process of recovering IT systems that have been affected by some form of disruption. Common disruptors include both natural and human-caused events. On the natural disaster side, severe storms, flooding, earthquakes, and tornadoes are potential disruptors. On the human-caused side, accidental errors, internal tampering, and outside cyberattacks can all bring down crucial IT infrastructure.
It’s impossible to predict when disasters will strike, and no organization can isolate itself entirely from every type of risk, which is why having an effective disaster recovery plan is so important. Engineering teams that take the time to think through the process experience less downtimes and higher availability. In other words, they keep customers happy and revenues flowing. Therefore, disaster recovery is paramount to long-term IT success.
In this blog post, we’ll explain disaster recovery metrics, best practices, and how you can optimize the process on the cloud. We’ll also share how Amazon Web Services (AWS) makes the process easy for organizations across all industries.
Disaster Recovery Metrics
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) are two critical metrics in disaster recovery planning. RPO refers to the amount of data loss that an organization can tolerate in the event of a disaster. It defines the maximum time interval between backups and the amount of data that can be lost during a disaster. RTO, on the other hand, refers to the maximum amount of time that an organization can afford to be without its systems and applications after a disaster.
Both RPO and RTO are crucial in determining the disaster recovery strategies that an organization should adopt. Organizations with low RPO and RTO should invest in highly redundant systems and frequent backups, ensuring that they can restore operations quickly in the event of a disaster. In contrast, organizations with a higher RPO and RTO may be able to tolerate longer downtimes and data loss, allowing them to focus on cost-effective solutions.
The Core Elements of a Disaster Recovery Plan
Disaster recovery really consists of four areas:
- Disaster prevention
- Disaster forecasting
- Disaster mitigation
- Disaster recovery
Although the last component is the main topic of this article, disaster prevention, forecasting, and mitigation are also critical.
Disaster prevention is all about putting plans and tools in place to minimize the occurrence of preventable disasters. These can include issues caused by human errors, network misconfigurations, and poor security practices.
The right guardrails and alerts protect IT systems from fallible humans that inevitably make mistakes. So, one of the best ways to avoid having to go into disaster recovery mode altogether is to prevent avoidable problems from bubbling up in the first place.
Disaster forecasting refers to the process of predicting when and how IT disasters could affect the organization. Disaster forecasting is what enables good prevention, mitigation, and recovery.
It covers both preventable and non-preventable disasters. When engineering teams put effort into identifying where they are vulnerable, they have more clarity on the types of response plans needed to reduce potential damage.
Disaster mitigation describes the process of containing disasters when they do occur. It’s all about keeping disasters from spreading and causing extensive damage throughout the IT function. Some of the best mitigation strategies include keeping up-to-date documentation, providing disaster recovery training, and conducting regular disaster recovery testing.
Last, disaster recovery refers to the process of actually getting IT back online fast with minimal consequences to the business. Having reliable backups, durable equipment, hot/cold sites, and virtualization are all examples of infrastructure that keep IT services from experiencing disruption.
More advanced approaches to disaster recovery include using automated recovery-as-a-service solutions that kick in as soon as something goes awry. This is where cloud computing platforms, like AWS, shine.
Disaster Recovery on the AWS Cloud
AWS has designed its disaster recovery solutions to help organizations ensure IT continuity at a lower overall cost. AWS offers options for recovering operations from on-premises and cloud deployments. Customers can also take advantage of alternative AWS regions should something happen to their primary region. Plus, IT teams only have to pay for backup resources when they’re running. Automation can be used to quickly deploy resources when they are needed. This saves organizations from paying for infrastructure that is rarely used, yet essential to have available at any given time.
One AWS service, in particular, that is worth highlighting is AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery (DRS). AWS DRS is a scalable and cost-effective application recovery solution. Organizations that use DRS can recover applications within minutes. Users can also build an integrated process for testing disaster recovery protocols and implementing failovers. Furthermore, engineering teams can add or delete replicating servers according to their unique needs, maximizing recovery flexibility.
While the benefits of disaster recovery on AWS might be clear, implementing the ideal ecosystem can be difficult. Every organization is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all playbook IT teams can follow. That’s why it can make sense to partner with an AWS expert, like ClearScale.
Disaster Recovery Metrics and AWS
The key metrics of RPO and RTO play crucial roles in shaping an effective disaster recovery strategy on AWS:
- RPO: AWS offers various data backup and storage solutions, such as Amazon S3, Amazon EBS snapshots, and AWS Backup, to help you meet your RPO requirements. By using these services, you can automate and optimize data backup processes, ensuring that your backup strategy aligns with your business’s tolerance for data loss during system failures.
- RTO: AWS enables you to design a disaster recovery strategy that meets your RTO requirements by providing services like Amazon Route 53 for DNS failover, Amazon CloudFront for content caching, and AWS Direct Connect for dedicated network connections. By leveraging these services, you can ensure a rapid recovery process that minimizes downtime and meets your business’s specific needs and risk tolerance.
By understanding and optimizing these metrics, you can effectively leverage AWS services and features to minimize downtime, protect your data, and ensure business continuity.
How ClearScale Supports Disaster Recovery on AWS
As an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner, ClearScale knows how to implement robust disaster recovery on AWS. Our engineers have helped clients across a wide range of industries develop comprehensive disaster recovery plans and systems that step up when it matters most. No matter the emergency or situation, our goal is to get IT back up and running ASAP.
We recently worked with a benefits management platform developer that wanted to migrate and bolster its disaster recovery process. The company was previously maintaining its IT infrastructure at peak capacity, which was only really necessary during a short span of the year. Additionally, our client’s developers were handling the process manually and didn’t have comprehensive documentation available for reference.
Through a combination of Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC), a new DR environment, managed cloud services, and key architecture changes, we revamped the company’s DR capabilities and made everything more reliable and cost-effective.
To learn more about how we could support your disaster recovery goals on AWS, schedule a call with one of our cloud experts today. We’d be happy to brainstorm the ideal solution for your organization and execute on it whenever you’re ready.