How can AI, policy-based automation and other strategies optimize data storage, management and disaster recovery on multiple cloud platforms?

As organizations send more and more data into the cloud and adopt multi-cloud strategies with solutions and services from a wide range of providers, the challenge of managing these environments also effectively increases. Disaster recovery (DR) in particular needs to be carefully considered.

IDC mentioned about Cloud environment and predicts that by 2021, over 90% of enterprises in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) will rely on a multi-cloud environment—a mix of on-premises/dedicated private cloud, several public cloud, and legacy platforms—to meet their infrastructure needs.

image photo of Gary Lim

With multi-cloud strategies, organizations can take advantage of the ability to back up and replicate data across any number of different cloud vendors. Using multiple clouds for data protection also means that enterprises can avoid ‘putting all of their eggs in one basket’ so to speak. It gives them the ability to back up one cloud to another, between clouds, across clouds or within clouds. Multi-cloud DR, is therefore incredibly flexible.

According to Gary Lim, Director of Systems Engineering, Commvault: “In today’s business environment where data is a mission critical asset, this flexibility has become essential to meet increasingly-strict data compliance rules, combat ransomware and maintain business continuity. However, organizations should be mindful that flexibility is not the only thing they should look for in a DR strategy.”

Lessons from real-world customers

Lim noted that poll results from a Commvault webinar on Cloud Disaster Recovery have indicated that many organizations (33.6%) have multiple tiers of Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs). The majority of respondents (36.4%) preferred recovery time of four hours or less. However, in reality, recovery processes seldom go smoothly following an actual disaster. In order to achieve such ambitious RTOs, a DR solution must provide numerous automated features. 

In addition, many organizations (37.5%) had multiple tiers of Recovery Point Objectives (RPO), reflecting that it is important to backup and replicate frequently as businesses simply cannot afford data loss. Flexibility is essential to meet these increasingly-strict RTOs and RPOs, ensuring that enterprises can recover what they need, where you and when needed.

While multi-cloud offers unprecedented levels of flexibility for DR, it also has the potential to vastly increase complexity. Many organizations face challenges of managing increasingly fragmented (and often multi-cloud located) data sets, causing loss of control of data access, usage and security. Unfortunately, whether or not an organization has a clear picture of how to recover their data only becomes apparent when something goes wrong. Organizations need to plan their strategy carefully and partner with a provider who can help to automate workflows and deliver the speed, agility and granularity necessary for DR in multi-cloud environments.

Multi-cloud for more than DR

Lim feels it is also important to consider that recovering data is not just about a ‘disaster’. “From lost or accidentally deleted files to ransomware, natural disasters, including global pandemics, and even internal threat factors, there are many things that can happen to your data. Organizations need granular recovery to the point that a single file can be recovered quickly and in isolation without the need to recover an entire system or virtual machine.”

Certain elements such as policy-based automation, AI and other tools that watch for anomalies in the data infrastructure have become critical to a successful multi-cloud DR plan. This is true for all levels of data recovery, from lost files to system recovery to full-on disasters—the underlying technology and processes required are consistent.

“Multi-cloud DR needs to start with the business goal in mind. It centers on the strategy around data, including where it is kept, who has access to it, what dependencies exist around it and how it needs to be protected. It is not just about a solution or a piece of software, although this is a critical component in getting it right. Companies need a (cloud) technology partner that understands the nature of their business’s data and what can go wrong. Moreover, there is a need for a technology partner that can deliver and implement a solution that enables the business to leverage omnidirectional data recovery, from the cloud, to the cloud, in the cloud, across the cloud and between cloud regions.” 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, the Cloud will continue to be integral to business resilience and survivability. In adopting multiple cloud platforms, the ability to protect data and quickly recover lost data amid increasingly complex cloud environments will be key for businesses if they are to successfully manage and mitigate disruptions, said Lim.