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Be a Master of Disaster Planning

Business continuity requires a broader definition of 'disaster.'

December 13, 2010
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Disaster Recovery: Look to the Cloud

A relatively new element of business continuity planning is cloud computing, which involves accessing software and applications via the Internet on a pay-as-you-go basis instead of maintaining server racks and desktops.

One company that has extensive experience offering cloud computing is i365, a Seagate Company, which focuses on system and data backup recovery. Launched in 2008, i365 has 30,000 customers and eight U.S. data centers. Credit unions form one of its key vertical markets.

“Trailers and laptops aren’t as important as before,” says Karen Jaworski, i365’s director of product management. “With cloud, we can provision a virtual private network that allows all employees in an organization to work from anywhere. In scenarios where employees can’t get to the main office or branch, they can still work as though they’re physically there.”

Jaworski says many credit unions spend too much time on disaster recovery planning and testing whether their IT teams know what to do. “Crucial IT team members might not be available at a critical moment. It’s better to outsource to a provider who has the resources and experience to initiate recovery, and has customized the process to fit a credit union’s hardware and software.”

Cloud computing also eliminates costly purchases of duplicate equipment, applications, and software licenses. “We can bring up a client’s entire array of applications, so there’s no need to worry about which ones can be supplied right away for business use. All data up to the last backup before the disaster and during the time between the disaster and full recovery is also backed up.”

Jaworski says security is a common concern with cloud computing. But i365 encrypts data before transmitting it via encrypted wire. “As a final security step, the credit union is the only entity that holds the encryption key.”

Another concern is bandwidth and storage. “The costs of both have dropped dramatically and continue to do so,” she says. “So, aside from cloud’s economic sense, there’s its advantage over the physical transportation of data off-site to secure backup locations. Tapes can become corrupted, transport can be slow or disrupted, and there’s the element of lost time in both processes.

“Cloud is the next logical step in data recovery. It’s an achievable, outsourceable, economical service.”

Resources
• Agility Recovery Solutions, Charlotte, N.C.: 866-364-9696
•  i365, Emeryville, Calif.: 877-901-3282
• Switch Communications Group, Las Vegas: 702-444-4000

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