There's an old Dilbert comic in which Dilbert explains his company's disaster recovery plan: It consists of running around in a panic, screaming "Help! Help!" As with most Dilbert comics, the comedy is intertwined with the tragic truth: Most of us are woefully unprepared - at work and at home - for a disaster that wipes out our technology and our data.
We're a month or so into the official hurricane and typhoon season for both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the time of year when those who find themselves in the path of destructive storms determine what sorts of precautions they will take to protect their homes, businesses, lives, and yes, their data. A series of stories this past week in the Miami Herald on the adoption of cloud computing in what the story calls "mainstream firms" in south Florida may be well-timed. In addition to efficiency and cost-savings touted by the article, the need for a disaster recovery plan is also part of what is driving many businesses in the region to adopt cloud technologies. Cloud-based services, according to one local data center manager cited in the article, are the fastest growing segment line for his company, and the demand for them is growing at an increasing rate.
While the Miami Herald article notes that it's still a small number of firms in the region that have embraced the cloud, it may be that the ease with which cloud-based disaster recovery plans can be implemented is what helps convince more individuals and more businesses - not just in south Florida - to reconsider some of their uncertainties about cloud computing.
The humorous pandemonium in the Dilbert cartoon aside, many small and medium sized businesses have foregone disaster recovery plans because they are costly and cumbersome. How will you administer your remote storage? How will you transport the data there? How will you make sure the information is synced? How will you test it regularly? Before the advent of cloud-based tools, developing a formal disaster recovery plan often wasn't very practical.
And while there are still challenges (the bandwidth required to move massive amounts of data being one of them), the cloud can make it much easier to implement a disaster recovery plan:
It's not simply those in hurricane-prone regions that need to consider disaster recovery obviously, but as the hurricane season heats up, it may be a good reminder about the importance of planning for the worst.