Leveraging cloud platforms where they make the most sense is a matter of careful evaluation as well as proper migration.
Editor's Note: The following article is taken from the publication, Business Continuity Today Ch. 11: Is the Cloud Right for You? available for download free from the MC Press White Paper Center.
Many concepts in modern technology evolve so quickly that those involved in the creation of the technologies may not even notice that a new platform has been born out of their work. The cloud is such a platform. What started years ago in the field of hypervisor-based virtualization technologies is evolving into the ability to produce computer resources, in multiple physical locations, that act as if they were part of the local network that end-users and middleware applications are attached to.
The cloud, as we know it today, has no true definition. We can only start with some definitions that hold true at the moment and then move into theoretical discussions about some of the most likely next steps in the field of cloud maturity. There are certain aspects of day-to-day technology issues that cloud computing can assist with, both now and into the next generation of the cloud-based computer resource. The cloud is getting a lot of press from both supporters and detractors. Some say it is the future of information technology; others say it is the same old thing, repackaged. The only real question is whether it can be a means to an end.
For now, cloud computing is to IT storage and resource management what the smartphone is to the rotary dial; it's simple, cheap, scalable, eco-friendly, and infinitely available. In the end, the "cloud" is just a metaphor for the Internet, and it works just like an electricity grid: resources, software, and information are provided to computers on demand and in the quantity demanded. In the 1980s, those resources were provided by giant mainframes and complex, geographically restricted client-server systems, which also required an enormous investment in hardware, space, and skilled staff to maintain them. Now, any business of any size, and even individuals, can consume storage space, software, and other resources "in the cloud" without having to own or manage a datacenter.
Further, organizations can take advantage of technology that allows them to maintain a real-time backup copy of data, applications, and even operating systems in the cloud, which allows them to restore damaged or destroyed production servers in minutes instead of hours or days. The best part is it doesn't take a dedicated IT staff to do it.
What Is Recovery as a Service?
The term "cloud computing" is so generic (and sometimes misused) that it's nearly worthless in a practical discussion. Two aspects of cloud computing that are relevant to the discussion are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). With IaaS, a service provider delivers raw resources—like virtual machines, storage, and network bandwidth—as a service. With SaaS, a provider layers a specific software solution on top of those raw resources and delivers that. When both IaaS and SaaS are combined in an offering that is specifically designed to provide data protection and disaster recovery, it is referred to as Recovery as a Service, or RaaS, which is discussed later in this chapter.
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