There are two types of IT systems, those that have failed, and those that are yet to fail. In the complicated world of managing IT and keeping a business running two words come to mind: ‘Be Prepared’.

Traditionally this meant establishing a disaster recovery plan, and with it purchasing expensive and costly infrastructure to standby, ‘just in-case’ something goes wrong. For many businesses this was worth the investment, after all long outages can destroy revenue, profits, and in some cases damage reputations.

As providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) mature, more and more businesses are looking to the cloud to provide cost effective Disaster Recovery (DR). Using AWS for DR means your critical applications and services can be spun up on demand, and turned off when not in use, eliminating investment in costly infrastructure, and freeing up budgets to focus on more important activities. In some cases 90% of the cost of delivering traditional DR, can be reallocated back to the IT budget, and used for initiatives that add real business value.

But what about VMware or Hyper-V?

Virtualisation started it all, and was a huge win for organisations wanting to deliver DR efficiently. Until recently the incompatibility of in-house virtual environments would quickly put the brakes on most DR initiatives that wanted to use AWS. The situation has changed, and today, we can securely connect your in-house virtual environment to the cloud, and replicate, at an individual VM level, apps and data to AWS.

Without investing a single dollar in equipment, you can create a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), select the VMs and replicate your data to highly available and durable AWS S3 storage service. Less then 10cents per GB per month, will provide you with unlimited storage, a very low cost.

In the event that disaster strikes, or you want to test your DR plan, the replicated images are started up in the VPC, and shutdown when no longer needed.

What to look out for

Failover to AWS has come along way in the last 12 months, with many software vendors now providing integration to automate image management. It is important that you analyse your requirements before you rush out to select a piece of software or undertake any DR initiative into AWS.

You need to assess the impact of moving DR to AWS; what it means for your apps, infrastructure, network links, and IT budget. With this information you can be confident that application availability won’t be compromised, and that real savings can be realised.