Oct 03 2016

Cloud Services Shore Up Backup and Recovery in the Face of Extreme Weather

States and municipalities can trust Disaster Recovery as a Service to protect their data centers from storm and water damage.

When floodwaters rise, information is key to providing emergency services in the moment, recovery services afterward and continuing services down the road. But state and local officials can do little to help citizens if critical data washes away in the torrent.

Recent flooding in Louisiana and Ellicott City, Md., highlights the need to protect and maintain access to state and municipal data, no matter the situation — especially in coastal regions or flood-prone areas along major waterways.

“Two climate change impacts that are particularly relevant for low-lying coastal areas are changes in sea level and precipitation,” says Daniel Horton, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Northwestern University.

Mark Hoekzema, chief meteorologist and director of meteorological operations at Earth Networks, warns that those flooding hazards will only grow over time.

“Research has shown that due to climate warming increasing the intensity of rain events and sea-level rises, flood events of various severity will become more common,” Hoekzema says. “This could mean more numerous minor floods as well as increasing the potential for a record flood event.”

Horton says that it’s important for government officials not only to understand shifting climate systems but also to take steps to mitigate the danger.

“To manage these altered risks, communities will need to update response plans, build resilience, educate their citizens and remain vigilant,” he says.

Seeking Sanctuary in the Cloud

Implemented alongside other precautions, backup and recovery can help ensure the integrity and availability of mission-critical data and applications. But designating a secondary data center as a disaster recovery site is not always the best solution.

“In some instances, this secondary location is located a few mere miles away from the primary data center,” writes cloud expert Sandra Yu in a CDW Solutions blog post. Such close proximity could easily undermine backup efforts, should both sites experience the same flooding event.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) eliminates that concern by delivering rapid failover to the cloud.

“DRaaS can serve as a warm, active site available in the event of a disaster,” Yu writes, noting additional benefits of cloud-based services: “Since there is no capital expense required and the annual test and failover is all the responsibility of the provider, it ultimately saves organizations capital, time and resources.”

DRaaS also provides governments with the flexibility to determine the recovery scope for server failures, security incidents, loss of building power and other events, though natural disasters are likely top of mind, given the severity of the Louisiana and Maryland flooding.

According to Dr. Robert Traver, an engineering professor at Villanova University and director of the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership, the 1,000-year storms that hit those states greatly overwhelmed the 100-year flood protections most organizations have in place.

“Anywhere in the U.S. would have had major damage from storms of this size,” he says. “What we can do is minimize the risk and build in resilience.”

DRaaS solutions help state and local governments do just that.


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