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The chance of unexpected disasters, whether they are natural or artificial, underlines how important it is to have a strong disaster recovery (DR) strategy in place. Out of all the possibilities, applying the strength and adaptability of the AWS Cloud may give companies the tools and skills required to ensure resistance in the face of disaster. The essential ideas and recommended procedures for the purpose of creating an effective disaster recovery plan on the AWS Cloud will be discussed in this article.
What is a Disaster?
A disaster is an event that partially or completely disrupts the operations of one or more applications. A disaster normally requires human intervention to fail over to secondary copies of applications in order to maintain their functionality.
A disaster blocks a workload or system from achieving its business goals in its primary deployed location. One of the essential components of your recovery strategy is availability, which can be compared to disaster recovery. Whereas disaster recovery measures objectives for one-time events, availability objectives measure mean values over a period of time.
The four main categories of a disaster:
- Human errors – Unintentional behaviours that result in a security vulnerability, such as a careless database or software setting;
- Malicious attacks – Unauthorised acts like ransomware attacks or denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that have an impact on a victim’s system;
- Natural disasters – Environmental elements like earthquakes and floods that disrupt systems;
- Technical failures – A software, hardware, or facility malfunction, such as a power outage or a network connectivity issue.
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Why is Disaster Recovery Necessary?
The following problems that can be brought on by a disaster are minimised by a disaster recovery solution that has been effectively planned and implemented:
- Direct and indirect financial loss – Applications that are essential for any revenue-generating operations are most often those where the impact of direct financial loss is crucial. For instance, internal IT systems that process data important to revenue generation. Customers proceeding with a competitive product and the amount of work required to reestablish normal operations after the disaster are just two examples of indirect financial loss.
- Reputational damage – In addition to financial loss, unplanned downtime can seriously damage a company’s brand. A quick recovery time made possible by a disaster recovery solution can assist prevent irreparable harm to the company’s reputation.
- Failure to abide by compliance standards – Multiple compliance standards, including System and Organization Controls (SOC), the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), require a disaster recovery plan. Even more detailed restrictions are included by some standards, such as the shortest possible physical distance between the source site and the disaster recovery site.
Common Factors and Challenges
When preparing your response to a particular disaster, there are a number of things to take into account:
- Expected duration of the disaster – What is the possibility that the crisis will end on its own and how quickly will the application recover?
- Size of Impact (or Blast Radius) – Which programmes are impacted, and how much does it affect their functionality?
- Geographic impact – This may be regional, national, continental, or global.
- Tolerance of downtime – How significant is the impact of the application not functioning?
When deciding on your disaster recovery strategy, it’s essential to take into account both the event’s nature and its geographic impact. For example, you can mitigate a local flooding issue causing a data centre outage by employing a Multi-AZ strategy, since it would not affect more than one Availability Zone. However, if production data were to be attacked, you would need to implement a disaster recovery plan that switches over to backup data in another AWS Region.
Disaster Recovery and Availability
Another crucial element of your resilience strategy is availability, which can be compared to disaster recovery.
This approach is often referred to as “nines”, whereas a 99.9% availability target is referred to as “three nines”. For your workload, it may be easier to count successful and failed requests instead of using a time-based approach.
Disaster recovery concentrates on disaster events, whereas availability concentrates on less severe but more frequent disruptions including component failures, network problems, software defects, and demand spikes. Business continuity is the goal of disaster recovery, whereas availability focuses on increasing the amount of time a workload is available to carry out its intended business functionality. Both ought to be a component of your resilience plan.
Disaster Recovery in the Cloud is Different
The following benefits of using the AWS Cloud for disaster recovery over conventional settings:
- Quickly and more simply recover from a disaster;
- Testing may be done more readily and frequently when it is basic and repeatable;
- The operational strain is lessened through decreased management overhead;
- Opportunities for automation increase recovery time and reduce the likelihood of error.
AWS responsibility “Resiliency of the Cloud”
Customers can create workload architectures that are extremely resilient thanks to the AWS Global Cloud Infrastructure. Each AWS Region is completely isolated and is made up of many Availability Zones, which are physically separate infrastructure divisions. Availability Zones isolate faults that could impact workload resilience, preventing them from impacting other zones in the Region.
Customer responsibility “Resiliency in the Cloud”
The AWS Cloud services you choose will decide your level of responsibility. This establishes the volume of configuration work you are required to complete as part of your resiliency duties. For example, a service such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) requires the customer to perform all of the necessary resiliency configuration and management tasks. Customers that deploy Amazon EC2 instances are responsible for deploying EC2 instances across multiple locations (such as AWS Availability Zones), implementing self-healing using services like AWS Auto Scaling, as well as using resilient workload architecture best practices for applications installed on the instances.
Analysis of Business Impacts and Risk Assessment
The business impact of an interruption to your workload should be quantified by a business impact analysis. The possibility that disruption may occur depends on the type of disaster, its geographic impact, and the technical implementation of your workload. These factors are all taken into account when calculating risk. To make sure that the disaster recovery strategy offers the proper amount of business value taking into account the business effect and risk, the costs of the disaster recovery choices should be assessed.
RTO and RPO
When creating a Disaster Recovery strategy, organizations most commonly plan for the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO).
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the maximum acceptable delay between the interruption of service and the restoration of service. This objective determines what is considered an acceptable time window when service is unavailable and is defined by the organization.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the maximum acceptable amount of time since the last data recovery point. This objective determines what is considered an acceptable loss of data between the last recovery point and the interruption of service and is defined by the organization.
You can find more information about Backup and Restore, AWS recovery tools and services, like Amazon EBS, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon EFS, AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery and more in our podcast!
Customers are responsible for the availability of their applications in the cloud, but we can help you to have a disaster recovery plan. We will create Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) based on impact analysis and risk assessments and then choose the appropriate architecture to mitigate against disasters. Ensure that the detection of disasters is possible and timely — it is vital to know when objectives are at risk. After we ensure you have a plan and validate the plan we can proceed with testing.
Disaster recovery plans that have not been validated risk not being implemented due to a lack of confidence or failure to meet disaster recovery objectives, so let us close these questions for you!
AWS offers various services and tools that facilitate disaster recovery, such as Amazon S3 for data storage, Amazon EC2 for compute resources, and AWS CloudFormation for infrastructure orchestration.
Yes, AWS provides several features and services that allow you to achieve near-zero downtime during a disaster. For example, AWS Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Route 53, and AWS Auto Scaling.
Yes, AWS supports a wide range of workloads, including mission-critical enterprise applications, web applications, databases, and virtual desktops.
AWS provides a secure foundation with features such as identity and access management (IAM), encryption at rest and in transit, network isolation, and security monitoring.