Another concern in the cloud is around providers overprovisioning their facilities. In a DRaaS model, providers typically support customers in a multi-tenant environment. While a provider may be able to accommodate a disaster that befalls one customer, can they adequately support multiple customers if the disaster is regional? Morency says DRaaS just hasn't been proven at scale that they can survive a major 9-11 or Katrina-like disaster. It's one thing to restore 15 to 20 VMs during a test, it's another to have hundreds of customers all declaring disaster at the same time and expecting a two-hour recovery window, he says. "That can be tight for a single organization, let alone a provider serving hundreds of customers at once," Morency says.
Some companies want priority access to ensure their systems are restored as fast as possible, but Morency says many providers instead restore customers based on a first-come, first-serve basis. That's how Cocchiara says IBM runs its DRaaS but he notes that the company has invested significantly in analytics to predict the likelihood of when disasters may happen and the company prepares its data centers for such events by shutting down testing of equipment and focusing server space completely on restoration services.
Enterprises also have to consider what data and applications they're willing to have run in the cloud if they do declare a disaster. Some organizations may have compliance issues and need to ensure their data is encrypted when it's stored in the cloud, for example, Morency points out.
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All these issues add up to enterprises not being quite ready to fully jump on board, Morency says. "The penetration into the larger enterprise market has been slow at best," he says. "They have their own approaches, their own methodology [to DR], and being able to port a lot of that [to the cloud], from a test and procedure point of view, is going to be less than straightforward for a lot of organizations."
That's resulted in many enterprises taking baby steps to DRaaS, Dines says, moving highly virtualized environments of medium criticality that do not yet have robust DR plans in place to the cloud. The speed derived from automation, combined with the cost savings from a multi-tenant environment can yield attractive cost-savings for customers compared to managed hosting or collocation DR options, which is driving interest, she says. As the industry matures and advancements are made, trust will be developed and customers will become more comfortable with using DRaaS for more mission critical apps, both Dines and Morency predict.
Cocchiara, the IBM rep, says they're already seeing customers embrace the cloud. "To me, this is an exciting development and new opportunity for the industry," he says. "Before, when we had customers who said I've love to use your service but I can't because I need to be recovered in hours, not days, now we can say we can recover them in minutes." The increased automation of DRaaS compared to managed service DR plans make this possible, but with that comes a whole set of new issues as well, such as bandwidth, compliance and scaling. Cocchiara says despite that, there has been enterprise adoption of DRaaS. Not everyone is ready to jump on board with the cloud though, he admits, which is why companies like IBM and legacy DR providers still offer the managed service and collocation options.
Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.