June 23, 2011

Inc. Magazine: Cetrom IT Customer Uses the Cloud for Disaster Recovery

How to Use the Cloud as a Disaster Recovery Strategy Full Story In a perfect world, every accounting system you use, every document, every business contact, and every file would be a click away. As we've learned in recent months, having a good disaster recovery plan is crucial – disaster can strike at any time, disrupting your business in unexpected ways. Yet, as many small companies have moved to the cloud (which is a new way to run applications, store data, maintain contacts, and do accounting online) the concept of disaster recovery is changing. Many companies have changed their disaster recovery plans because they figure the cloud will continue to operate no matter what happens to the physical building or computers. ... How to Use the Cloud as a Disaster Recovery Strategy: When the Cloud is the Disaster Recovery Plan In most of these cases, the businesses use the cloud as an augment to their disaster recovery plan. For some companies, the cloud itself has become the disaster recovery plan. Greg Altieri is the chief operating officer at MacNair Travel Management, based in Alexandria, Virginia. The company arranges travel for corporate clients. In 2010, the company was hit by two major storms (which Altieri called Snowmaggedon and Snowpocalypse), dumping about 55-inches of snow in the Washington D.C. area that could have crippled their business. During both storms, not a single employee made it into the office. Macnair uses all cloud services for business operations, for all employees. The company uses a service called Cetrom IT, which houses all the company applications in a network operations center. Cetrom handles the data back-ups and duplicates data between two facilities. "We can access our applications, operating systems and data anywhere at any time with only an Internet connection and browser," says Altieri. "Nothing short of a nuclear holocaust can shut us down. Not being dependent on a single location or data/voice carrier, and having full, operational back-up, is why the cloud is perfect for continuity of operations plans. Clearly the best disaster recovery plan is one that all but eliminates the operational impacts of a disaster before it happens." Interestingly, while all of these disaster recovery strategies depend on the cloud, all of the business contacts said the cloud is not entirely fool-proof. Galanti still asserted that there needs to be an overall disaster recovery plan for the business: where will the employees work, how will the physical building be restored, which IT services can be suspended while critical systems are restored. Yet, the overarching theme was: the cloud is a critical component in disaster planning; it relives most of the tension with IT services; and, it provides a new level of business continuity.

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