A safe harbour: Market-leading disaster recovery in the cloud

Discover how to protect your data and ensure the safety of your cloud solution.

Fast Business sat down with Adam Simpson, Harbour IT’s GM of Cloud Services, to discuss the company’s cutting-edge Cloud Metro offering and the future of cloud-computing security.

Australian spending on public IT cloud services is set to exceed $2.33 billion in 2016 as more businesses turn to cloud-based solutions to cut costs and shore up their IT capabilities. One area where the cloud is starting to make some big waves is disaster recovery (DR). Adam Simpson, Harbour IT’s General Manager of Cloud Services, shares his insights on cloud-based disaster recovery, including how it works and why getting the technology right is so vital.



With more and more businesses migrating to the cloud, why is disaster recovery so important?

According to a new survey, data loss and downtime cost Australian organisations around $65 billion in 2014. On average, there were 27 hours of unexpected downtime, which goes hand in hand with productivity losses. Additionally, 78 per cent of organisations are still not fully confident in their ability to recover after a disruption.

Cloud computing enables organisations to rent high-level reliable IT infrastructure for a fraction of the price. Reliable cloud providers help organisations to significantly decrease downtime. For instance, the Harbour IT Cloud has an uptime of more than 99.9 per cent and enables organisations to be more productive.

One of the biggest things our customers ask about these days is high-speed failover. That means having the assurance that their cloud-based data is being saved in more than one place, so that if there is a disruption that results in data being lost in one location, it’s not lost completely. They want zero data loss, and they really want non-stop computing. To provide market-leading disaster recovery resilience, Harbour IT invested heavily and introduced CloudMetro.

How do traditional disaster-recovery options work, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Traditional data recovery runs like a standard data backup in the sense that once, or multiple times a day, your data is replicated to another data centre to protect it in the event of a disaster. If you need to perform a recovery or failback from that data centre, it tends to be a very manual process where you might experience two or three disruptions to your business while you move your DR environment back into production.

With CloudMetro, this isn’t an issue because you’re continuously writing your data to multiple data centres in real time. It’s a logical extension of our existing high-availability cloud solution.

What prompted Harbour IT to develop its CloudMetro offering?

I think the cloud journey is maturing and people now understand a little more about what is behind the different cloud offerings. And, for the most part, our customers were demanding real-time failover capability. Vendors will often say that they can guarantee 99.99 per cent availability, but what does that really mean? This question is usually only asked when the business has already experienced a failure or an interruption. On top of this, a lot of providers don’t offer compensation if they do miss their service-level agreements.

What we wanted to do was give our customers peace of mind that when they go home at night, their data is in multiple data centres and we can recover it quickly if needed.

What differentiates CloudMetro from other disaster-recovery options, and what benefits does it bring to Australian business?

The problem with traditional DR is that you’ll only have data in the data centre that reflects when the last replication took place. That is generally scheduled at intervals, so even if it’s every hour, you’re looking at up to an hour’s data loss. In our case, the data is always written in real time, twice.

To protect the data’s integrity, it’s only committed when both local and remote data have been written. The technical term is synchronous data mirroring – where we replicate data in centres that are around 25 to 30 kilometres apart in real time.

From a customer perspective, it’s really about improved RTO (recovery time objective) and RPO (recovery point objective), so if a disaster occurs they know they can recover their production environment within a short period.

How do you see this offering shaping the future of cloud security?

Besides better business continuity due to having your data backed up to multiple locations, it sets a new standard for data integrity because of that real-time data replication. It means that, following a disaster recovery, people can simply pick up where they left off. It’s both more reliable and easier to manage than previous DR solutions, which is exactly what businesses want.

Conclusion

Real-time replication and zero data loss are becoming the new standards for Australian cloud computing. With Harbour IT at the helm, the cloud industry is moving into a new phase of data storage and disaster recovery.

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