Cloud-based Disaster Recovery: Data Security Without Breaking the Bank

By: Morpheus Data

The necessity of having a rock-solid disaster-recovery plan in place has been made abundantly clear by recent high-profile data breaches. Advances in cloud-based DR allow organizations of all sizes to ensure they’ll be up and running quickly after whatever disaster may happen their way.

It just got a lot easier to convince senior management at your company that they should allocate some funds for implementation of an iron-clad disaster-recovery program. That may be one of the few silver linings of the data breach that now threatens to bring down Sony Pictures Entertainment.

It has always been a challenge for IT managers to make a business case for disaster-recovery spending. Computing UK’s Mark Worts explains in a December 1, 2014, article that because DR is all about mitigating risks, senior executives strive to reduce upfront costs and long-term contracts. Cloud-based DR addresses both of these concerns by being inexpensive to implement, and by allowing companies to pay for only the resources they require right here, right now.

Small and midsized businesses, and departments within enterprises are in the best position to benefit from cloud-based DR, according to Worts. Because of their complex, distributed infrastructures, it can be challenging for enterprises to realize reasonable recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) relying primarily on cloud DR services.

Components of a cloud-based DR configuration

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts and AT&T Labs developed a model for a low-cost cloud-based DR service (PDF) that has the potential to enhance business continuity over existing methods. The model depends on warm standby replicas (standby servers are available but take minutes to get running) rather than hot standby (synchronous replication for immediate availability) or cold standby (standby servers are not available right away, so recovery may take hours or days).

The first challenge is for the system to know when a failure has occurred; transient failures or network segmentation can trigger false alarms, for example. Cloud services can help detect system failures by monitoring across distributed networks. The system must also know when to fall back once the primary system has been restored.


A low-cost cloud-based disaster recovery system configured with three web servers and one database at the primary site. Source: University of Massachusetts

The researchers demonstrate that their RUBiS system offers significant cost savings over use of a colocation facility. For example, only one “small” virtual machine is required to run the DR server in the cloud’s replication mode, while colocation DR entails provisioning four “large” servers to run the application during failover.


The cloud-based RUBiS DR solution is much less expensive to operate than a colocation approach for a typical database server implementation. Source: University of Massachusetts

A key cloud-DR advantage: Run your apps remotely

The traditional approaches to disaster recovery usually entail tape storage in some musty, offsite facility. Few organizations can afford the luxury of dual data centers, which duplicate all data and IT operations automatically and offer immediate failover. The modern approach to DR takes advantage of cloud services’ ability to replicate instances of virtual machines, as TechTarget’s Andrew Reichman describes in a November 2014 article.

By combining compute resources with the stored data, cloud DR services let you run your critical applications in the cloud while your primary facilities are restored. SIOS Technology’s Jerry Melnick points out in a December 10, 2014, EnterpriseTech post that business-critical applications such as SQL Server, Oracle, and SAP do not tolerate downtime, data loss, or performance slowdowns.

It’s possible to transfer the application failover of locally managed server clusters to their cloud counterparts by using SANless clustering software to synchronize storage in cloud cluster nodes. In such instances, efficient synchronous or asynchronous replication creates virtualized storage with the characteristics of SAN failover software.

Failover protection is a paramount feature of the Morpheus database-as-a-service (DBaaS). Morpheus includes a free full replica set with every database instance you create. The service supports MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, and ElasticSearch databases; it is the first and only DBaaS that works with SQL, NoSQL, and in-memory databases.

With Morpheus’s single-click provisioning, you can monitor all your databases via a single dashboard. Automatic daily backups are provided for MySQL and Redis databases, and your data is safely stored on the service’s SSD-backed infrastructure. Visit the Morpheus site to create a free account.