Disaster recovery and cloud managed services - the price is right

27 September 2021 by Catalyst

In this post, we explore disaster recovery and how cloud managed services can provide a robust, cost effective solution for your organization's online education services.  You can read earlier related posts that cover considerations for data recovery and backups.

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Disaster recovery can be a complex problem to solve for many businesses. It often starts with trying to decide what really matters when it comes to getting your business back from the brink. Striking a balance between what’s needed and what is affordable is at the heart of the matter. If you provide online education services, your IT team will no doubt be seeking a solution that  supports and protects your educators and student learning.  You want improved resilience at a great price... and still meets all business requirements, not forgetting any associated regulatory or legal compliance needs.

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Cloud disaster recovery

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With the ubiquitous switch for many organisations to consuming cloud services, it’s not surprising that disaster recovery and backup services are now an integral part of a managed services offering.

MSP services provide cost effective solutions

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are well placed to provide disaster recovery and backup solutions at a cost-effective price point, while still meeting your organization’s most complex business requirements.

The MSP value proposition is compelling for many organisations. It changes the narrative on gaining the advantage of recovery service, without having to understand the detail and employ teams of infrastructure experts to design and maintain the solution.

Services of this nature, especially given the fundamental concepts of moving data to a secure and resilient location so that it can be recovered when needed, should be considered more akin to utilities, such as electricity and water.  You don’t necessarily care how the service is delivered, as long as it works.

Your organization’s objective with a disaster recovery service is to de-risk operating in a world where major digital incidents can have a severe impact on your operations.  In some cases, these catastrophes are existential.

Disaster recovery and backup services

MSPs typically offer a range of options for disaster recovery and backup services, such as:

  • The ability to switch over to a failover environment, with SLAs relating to how long it takes for the business to be back up to its normal operating status and recover and failback services to allow the business to shift back to its recovered environment;
  • Fire drills that allow the organisation to run full tests of its backup and recovery processes, including working closely with the test team to coordinate and even facilitate the war room and collect information on lessons learned from the exercise, and; 
  • Data backup and system backup – both allow the business to recovery to a specific point in time, the first recovering the information needed by the business to operate, while the second brings back the systems the business uses to process information. Depending on the nature of the incident, an organisation may need one or both options.

Case study - MSP cloud services for enterprise-level Moodle

 MSP evaluation criteria

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When you begin to evaluate an MSP solution for disaster recovery and backup as a service, have a set of metrics to hand by which you need the MSP to operate. The two most important ones are Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

RPO is the maximum period over which you are willing to lose data on your systems because of the incident. As you settle on a value for the RPO, consider that a longer RPO makes a more affordable solution, while a shorter RPO means you lose less data and hence, less work product may be lost. The longer the RPO, the more affordable the solution, but you accept a more significant loss of data.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

RTOs determine how quickly you recover data from the time the incident occurred. Instead of relating to the data, like the RPO, the RTO relates to how long you can tolerate not operating. For some organisations, services may directly relate to your availability.  For healthcare organisations, for example, systems that are offline for an extended period could put patients lives at risk.

Other considerations

Cyber Security

Cyber security is critical to all IT related operations, as cyber is in everything we do online. Cloud services providers should be certified using one of several security standards, such as ISO 27001. Look for evidence of their certifications and carefully read the contract and terms and conditions as to how they handle both your security and your privacy.

Data sovereignty

Location may be another important factor for you,  as you may have data sovereignty requirements you must adhere to. If this is the case, check that when your data is moved to cloud storage that it’s stored within your national border. However, the MSP might also operate internationally, so make sure your data doesn’t get replicated elsewhere outside of the national perimeter to protect the services the MSP provides to you.

Find an MSP to support your online education services

Catalyst is an AWS Partner that supports Enterprise learning management systems (LMS) across higher education, government and the commercial sector.  Explore how our services can help you with your edtech.

Contact the team at Catalyst today

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