Q&A: Eric Thompson and Brandon Tanner on Cloud Services — Part 2

Finger pointing at question mark in the cloudsLast week on our blog we featured Part 1 of a Q&A session with two of our cloud experts: Eric Thompson, solutions architect, and Brandon Tanner, senior manager. The questions were originally included in DRJ's webinar "Using Cloud to Accelerate Workplace Recovery." Attendees wanted to know a lot about the cloud, so we decided to do a two-part blog series. Below is Part 2.

Q: How do you help organizations that operate brick-and-mortar workspaces (e.g., a call center) prepare for remote recovery during a disaster?
A: Working remotely is an option because of the flexibility the cloud provides, but users don’t have to work from home. Customers have options.

Lots of our clients virtualize the infrastructure so applications are running in the cloud. They’ll then replicate the office environment at an alternate location. We can also bring in a mobile unit with preconfigured office space so users can duplicate the back-end infrastructure in the cloud and then couple that with the alternate office area.

If you choose not to have that traditional central office space at time of event, you can have employees work from home through a virtual system using virtual desktops, softphones and other similar technologies.

Either way, it’s about prep. One thing that gets overlooked is validating solutions via test, whether you’re evaluating business functions or going and doing a mobile test. One of the important pieces of testing is that the vendor gets the opportunity to work with the client so they have a better idea of what’s involved. Tabletops are enlightening, but there’s nothing like actually doing a test to set proper expectations.

Q: In the remote DR scenario, do you offer guaranteed response times, specifically for database restoration to storage media?
A: Any vendor will have service level agreements (SLAs) around these types of products, though a lot of the SLAs we see relate to availability and data not being lost. We do have guidelines, depending on what you need to have done, but if you’ve got an RTO tied to an application, you need to validate the process and document the results to make sure it fits your business’s requirements.

Q: How do we connect to the cloud?
A: It depends on cost, compliance and regulatory requirements and what’s available between you and the cloud provider. Our customers usually directly connect to us, but we give you the option to connect through secure VPN, MPLS, the Internet, etc.

Q: If you depend too much on cloud availability, what happens when communications are disrupted?
A: Most all cloud providers have redundancy on their end through multiple carriers. However, we can’t control every point between the two end points. Even the largest providers have had issues. Setting expectations is key. Ask yourself, “What am I solving for by leveraging the cloud? If I don’t have access to it, what does it do to my business?”

Another thing to consider is whether or not the solution is being designed properly and the horsepower is being allocated properly so you don’t have problems on the bandwidth side.

Q: What are your thoughts on public cloud utilization?
A: The public cloud serves a specific sector and need. We deal more with regulated industries that need to have the assurance that their data is at a specific location, stays in the U.S. and is encrypted in transit and at rest.

There’s no straightforward answer. Organizations should do what makes the most sense for them strategically. Some go with the hybrid approach, but it comes back to business functions, applications and the type of data you’re dealing with.

Q: Any final comments on cloud services?
A: To remain competitive, organizations can’t put their head in the sand and decide they’re not going to implement cloud. You have to stay on top of it. You need to start having a cloud strategy that involves more than just one project. It’s no different than DR in that you can’t just put it on the shelf once you’re done, or it’s outdated within a month. It has to be part of the organization’s DNA and thought process to take advantage of what’s out there.

Do you have a question about the cloud we didn't address? Let us know in the comments, and we'll answer it on our blog!

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