Peak vs. Average

Maybe it is because of the business I am in, but I believe that cloud computing and disaster recovery are made for each other.  There are lots of reasons for this, but the main one comes down to peak vs. average utilization.

There are a couple of ways to build a disaster recovery (DR) solution, but to avoid long outages, you need another data center off-site, stocked with enough equipment to get your critical systems back on-line.  This is where the peak vs. average problem shows up.  You have to provision that data center for the peak load during recovery – that is, you need servers, storage, and networks big enough to run your production workload.  But you only get the benefit of average utilization – and for the DR center, average is mostly idle time.

As the graphic illustrates, most of the time, your DR data center is sitting idle, but it has to be ready to carry the production burden for all your critical systems at any time.  You have to pay for peak utilization, but you only get the benefit of average.

Cloud computing lets us break that model – you can have huge peak capacity standing by, but only pay for what you consume.  In a DR setting, you can pay for small amounts of utilization (e.g. just the data storage costs) most of the time, and then bring more resources on-line when you need them for recovery.

I will be doing a joint webinar with Double-Take Software and Amazon Web Services on April 21.  It is free, and you can register online.  We will talk about how to build a good DR solution using the cloud that provides exactly these kinds of benefits.

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