Why cloud disaster recovery is a Hong Kong imperative

Ringo Wong, head of ITaaS at Dimension Data Hong KongHong Kong’s climate has long had an impact on the way its citizens live and do business. With typhoons, thunderstorms, heat waves and flooding all taking their toll on the city, how can businesses make sure they can deliver a consistent service? The answer is Disaster Recovery (DR), which is no longer an option for Hong Kong businesses, but an imperative. The financial implications of not having a robust plan in place can have large ramifications not only on business continuity, but on brand image as well.

With enterprise IT systems becoming increasingly complex and business critical, traditional approaches to DR can prove to be expensive and time consuming – requiring organizations to invest heavily in setting up the DR site, which involves building an IT infrastructure of applications, networks, power, cooling as well as hiring trained personnel.

In a world where storage needs are growing exponentially and businesses are experiencing great pressure to minimize downtime, cloud DR has emerged as a powerful alternative for businesses. With it, users can quickly recover their critical information and get systems back online regardless of their location. Something that is particularly important in a market like Hong Kong, with its high number of mobile users demanding access to information and applications any time of day.

By storing critical data assets in the cloud as part of their DR strategy, organizations can speed up recovery times in the event of a disaster.

Moreover, cloud offers a cost effective and reliable alternative for DR, removing the need for onsite infrastructure and highly trained personnel. Benefits include:

  1. Fast recovery: Replicating data after a disaster has often been an error-prone and time-consuming process. With the cloud, the entire server - including the operating system, data and patches - can be automatically duplicated to another location; enabling organizations to recover systems in minutes rather than hours.

  1. Lower costs: DR on the cloud means enterprises only pay in the event of a disaster and virtual machines are needed to be taken online. Additionally, organizations can host applications on low cost servers and switch to more powerful ones when needed, meaning even small- and medium-sized enterprises can put in place DR procedures with low investment.

  1. Access from anywhere: With data stored in the cloud, users can access it from any location, whereas traditionally if connectivity was not available organizations had no choice but to manually restart operations. In comparison, a cloud-based DR service can be triggered from any location using just a laptop or smartphone.

  1. Reduced complexity: A manual DR process can be time consuming and complex to execute, often consisting of hundreds of steps. In the event of a disaster, operating systems have to be reloaded, applications have to be patched with the latest updates and data has to be reloaded into the system. To make matters worse, if an error occurs during any of these steps, the entire process has to start again. Networks and associated components, like firewalls and VPNs, have to be reconfigured, which can take several days. In a cloud-based DR system, everything is automated and organizations can have their systems up and running again in a few minutes.

  1. Easier testing: The cloud gives organizations the option of testing their DR procedures regularly, something that many IT teams have struggled to do with traditional DR processes. Cloud DR allows organizations to test every component thoroughly, including instantly testing the integrity of data backups.

When it comes to disaster recovery, the mantra has usually been ‘the faster the recovery time, the more expensive the solution’. Cloud has removed this obstacle; making it possible for businesses of all sizes to maintain business continuity. Hence, companies operating in Hong Kong have no excuse for not being able to cope in the face of a disaster.

Ringo Wong, head of ITaaS at Dimension Data Hong Kong