Cloud News & Insights

Cloud Computing and Virtualization – Impact on Backup and Recovery

Businessman on a laptop in front of server racks

As any system administrator knows, there are two critical parameters that control your back up solutions and the policy you follow. These are “Recovery Time Objective” and “Recovery Point Objective”. After a short discussion of the two policies, I shall discuss in brief how these parameters are affected by moving your processes to the cloud.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – This is basically the time it will take to restore your data from your backups and get back to work. Obviously, the RTO would vary based on the kind of business you are in. If you are selling airline tickets online, then you would naturally want a very short RTO. On the other hand, if you are providing an information service to tourists, you can tolerate a larger RTO. The cost of your solution will depend on the time you are willing to wait for full services to resume. RTO is not calculated by IT staff but rather by operational staff, because they define what time period can be accepted.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – While RTO is a measure of time needed to resume full operations, RPO is a measure of the data loss you are willing to accept. If your backup occurs at midnight and you have a server failure at noon the next day, you will have lost 12 hours of data even if the recovery time is within the prescribed RTO. Once again, your business dictates the RPO.

The challenges with backing up cloud systems – With cloud-based systems, there is a tendency to create virtual machines at will. There is a sprawl that can occur where new virtual machines are added automatically based on the workload. However, these virtual machines need to be backed up and their RTO and RPO need to be maintained as per company policy.

To simplify the process of backup and recovery, the first step is to create a formal process for adding a virtual machine. This process must also ensure that whenever a virtual machine is created, it is also ensured that an automated backup system is also created. (For further reference, check out GMO Cloud’s Manual on Creating a Backup.)

Every new production system must have an automated backup plan. Once again, this should be a well-considered business decision, because not every virtual machine needs to be backed up.

In many cases, software can simplify the process of monitoring backups. Software is able to generate alerts and dashboards so that system admins are able to see at a glance if their systems are backed up adequately.

Cloud-based backup systems are able to give both recovery time and recovery points that can be measured in seconds rather than hours. This is bringing great new capabilities to businesses.

How do you see backup and recovery using cloud systems? Would you want to keep your backup systems on a different cloud than your production systems? Or would you be happy ensuring that they are on different racks in the same cloud center?

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About the Guest Author:

Sanjay SrivastavaSanjay Srivastava has been active in computing infrastructure and has participated in major projects on cloud computing, networking, VoIP and in creation of applications running over distributed databases. Due to a military background, his focus has always been on stability and availability of infrastructure. Sanjay was the Director of Information Technology in a major enterprise and managed the transition from legacy software to fully networked operations using private cloud infrastructure. He now writes extensively on cloud computing and networking and is about to move to his farm in Central India where he plans to use cloud computing and modern technology to improve the lives of rural folk in India.

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