Disaster response involves several stages covering preparedness, the response to an emergency, mitigation of its effects and recovery. At the center of those stages is critical information that must be backed up, replicated and accessible. The data, which is the lifeblood of agency missions, must be readily available if agencies are to respond swiftly to a crisis and mitigate its impact. It’s also essential to maintaining business continuity, whether that involves internal operations or administering relief programs.
Cloud platforms evolve swiftly, and best-of-breed solutions come and go, “but we can absolutely bank on the fact that your data is really your strategic asset,” said Steve Grewal, Federal Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Cohesity. “No matter what your mission space is, it’s really all about the data. We say, ‘Data is the new oil.’”
Agencies need unfettered access to that data across a unified fabric, whether working on-premises or at the edge, said Grewal, who spent more than 15 years as a federal information technology official, most recently as Deputy Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the General Services Administration (GSA), before joining Cohesity.
“The plumbing and stitching can change, but as long as you have that data layer under control and managed efficiently, the rest can be postured around that,” he said.
Even in normal, non-emergency environments, however, managing that data can be complicated. Cloud architectures unify a lot of an agency’s dispersed operations, but the propagation of cloud systems adds complexity.
An example of this is creating data silos generated by different formats, new services and multiple locations. If not effectively managed, it compounds the mass data fragmentation that already exists within legacy backup, storage and data management infrastructure, making swift retrieval a challenge.
The Solution: Cloud-Based, Enterprise-Grade DR
The government has no shortage of data, and an increasing amount of it resides in the cloud, making a cloud-based solution that integrates and manages that data from the start optimal for DR. A cloud-based, enterprise-grade DR solution offers agencies a lot of benefits. Here are four of them.
Accessibility. A cloud-based DR solution offers near-instant recovery from the core to cloud to edge and back again. One of its main advantages is accessibility. Hot/warm/cold sites make up on-premises DR systems. These sites slow down physical recovery, and include some data stored offsite and/or on tape, which can be difficult and time-consuming to retrieve.
Policy-based management. A cloud-based solution that provides policy-based management of backups and replication securely across multiple clouds not only gives agencies digital long-term retention and quick access but can integrate that data so agencies can put it to use.
Integration. A software-defined platform provides native integration, consolidating data and infrastructure across its services, while working in a hybrid environment that involves both on-premises and cloud systems.
Elasticity/Scalability. Agencies haven’t had the elasticity that comes with an on-demand model with traditional approaches. Scaling systems can suffer from procurement processes that slow things down, as well as from guesswork involved in predicting demand, which can result in agencies under- or overprovisioning.
“Historically, there has been no quick way for agencies to expand on the fly. I think this COVID-19 situation demonstrates how important that is,” Grewal said.
On-demand services can accommodate the peaks and valleys of activity as a crisis plays out. And it pays off when services are no longer needed, since they can disappear, unlike hardware. “Once things start to resume and you don’t have a need for X number of simultaneous users and that kind of capacity, then you can scale back down,” Grewal said. “And I think that is the biggest benefit that agencies will start to experience.”
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “4 Ways Cloud Makes the Best Platform for Disaster Recovery.” Download the full report here.