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Commentary
3/30/2010
08:29 PM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
Commentary
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Using Cloud Computing for Business Continuity

Most enterprises are not buying public-cloud computing systems as their primary platform for business-critical applications... For now, perhaps they should not go in this direction. That is, not until business continuity, or disaster recovery, becomes the next killer app for cloud computing.

Most enterprises are not buying public cloud computing systems as their primary platform for business-critical applications, despite the hype that leads us to look at cloud computing as the new platform for critical applications. For now, perhaps they should not go in this direction. That is, not until business continuity, or disaster recovery, becomes the next killer app for cloud computing.

The idea is simple, really. Business continuity plans will use cloud computing platforms in any combination of infrastructure/platform/software as a service systems that can support the business during times of outages or outright disasters. This means you continue to leverage on-premise systems for day-to-day processing, but leverage cloud resources as a continuity business strategy, or, in more simple, terms your "hot stand-by."Backup systems exist today and have been around for a long term. When I built banking systems, there was always a data center somewhere that had an exact duplicate of the primary data center; it could be turned on at anytime if the primary center went down, or was taken out by a natural disaster. It costs millions to stand up a back-up data center, but the cost of not having the business continuing to function was in the millions of dollars per hour.

Using cloud computing resources for back-up systems is nothing new, but now we have a great number of innovative, cloud-delivered systems to choose from, providing everything from storage, security, application processes, testing, enterprise software, and complete platforms, all on-demand. Thus, it's now possible to build or port complete systems to the cloud, not for the purposes of elasticity or cost reduction, but to provide a pay-as-you-need-it platform that provides all core information processing services that can be turned on at anytime.

The advantages are clear.

First, the cost of using cloud computing as part of your business continuity strategy is much lower. No data center, hardware or software investments are required. What's more, you can turn it on when needed, and they only bill you for the resources you actually use. This opens opportunities for businesses that typically could not afford a back-up center. I estimate that the cost is about a fourth that of traditional backup sites, mostly from ongoing operational savings.

The second advantage is the speed in standing up a site: typically a month or two to port and test the software. Again, no need to purchase and test hardware and software systems, or negotiate data center space that can't be collocated with your production systems.

Finally, there is the fact that most cloud-computing systems are ubiquitous. Thus, if you have access to a browser and the Internet, then you can access your core business systems and continue working anywhere in the world. This is handy considering that most disasters mean employees won't have access to their offices or workplaces.

This could be the killer app that cloud computing providers have been waiting for, but I rarely hear this mentioned in sales calls.Most enterprises are not buying public-cloud computing systems as their primary platform for business-critical applications... For now, perhaps they should not go in this direction. That is, not until business continuity, or disaster recovery, becomes the next killer app for cloud computing.

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