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February 16, 2023 | Channing Lovett

Disaster Recovery: Cloud vs On-Premises

As more organizations are shifting to cloud, it’s important to understand the differences between disaster recovery cloud vs on-premises. While critical, making decisions around business continuity and disaster recovery is one of the modern IT leader’s biggest headaches. Considering disasters can strike at anytime, anywhere, and manifest in different forms, it’s a necessity to remain proactive with proper disaster recovery procedures in place that cover:

  • Natural disasters (floods, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, etc.)
  • Catastrophic equipment failures
  • Cyberattacks
  • Internal human error
  • Etc.

Planning, implementing, and testing DR strategies for each event takes time, and limited budgets and fewer resources on hand can make the task even more difficult. Additionally, before IT leaders can even begin to build a complete disaster recovery plan, they must first explore DR options and decide if on-premises DR, a managed cloud-based DR, or a mix of the two is the right solution for their organization’s needs.

As with any choice, both types of DR have key differences, pros, and cons to consider before incorporating them into a plan.

What Is Disaster Recovery Cloud vs On-Premises?

Disaster recovery, in general, involves policies and procedures that restore critical business systems to their normal, functional state after a disruptive event that hinders business continuity. Designing, implementing and managing a comprehensive DR strategy can help reduce the severity and seriousness of the disaster itself.

To further explain disaster recovery cloud vs on-premises, traditionally an on-premises disaster recovery system is managed in-house and is located where your production systems are based or at a secondary on-premises location. When taking this conventional approach, you must:

  • Invest budget into purchasing hardware and software
  • Perform routine maintenance, and provide support for your infrastructure
  • Backup and maintain your systems and data in a secure on-premises data center, physical machine, virtual machine (VM), or storage device kept on-site
  • Have technical IT staff in-house to create, test, and deploy your overall strategy, including handling recovery in the event of a disaster

In the cloud, however, the disaster recovery solution is based off-premises, typically within a data center managed by a third party. Cloud-based DR is designed to meet both the security and compliance needs of organizations, while also delivering quicker data recovery than traditional on-premises DR. When taking a cloud-forward approach to disaster recovery, a cloud solutions provider can take over the responsibilities you would normally encounter in a traditional setting.

Additionally, disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions help IT teams implement industry leading best practices to more effectively meet recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) goals.

Advantages Of Disaster Recovery In The Cloud

  • Easy to launch: IT administrators simply need to setup connectivity for the DR provider who will then handle deployment of the DR tools for the DR solution
  • Lower upfront costs: Cloud DR doesn’t require a large amount of upfront capital to get started and gives SMBs the ability to access the same RTO, RPO, and data security as large companies
  • Flexible and scalable: Cloud DR solutions are flexible enough to address the most complex environments and change according to your organization’s needs and can scale as your business grows
  • Fast data recovery: DR sites have always-on replication within the cloud, which helps shorten the recovery process for data servers and applications
  • Swift failover: When the primary site fails, 24×7/365 provider managed automation and orchestration tactics kick in that switches over to a secondary cloud site in minutes.
  • Planned testing: Regular testing is handled by the cloud DR solution provider that meets governance and compliance requirements
  • Saves time: Cloud DR frees up time for internal IT teams and enables them to focus on more revenue generating projects

Advantages Of Disaster Recovery On-Premises

  • Custom infrastructure: Onsite infrastructure is specifically built according to the needs of the organization
  • More control: Since deployment and management is in-house, onsite infrastructure allows IT teams to have a higher level of control
  • Low latency: Data recovery can be found within a close (albeit feasible) location which reduces issues associated with latency
  • Custom application compatibility: On-prem DR solutions can be designed to be compatible with more niche, highly custom-built applications

Disadvantages Of Disaster Recovery In The Cloud

  • Ongoing costs: Rather than pay an expected upfront cost, DRaaS pricing is structured according to a subscription-based model, and costs may vary depending on any modifications you request, i.e. additional storage
  • Application compatibility varies: Not all cloud-based recovery services are compatible with all applications, especially those that have been tailor-made for the organization
  • Higher risk for latency issues: Since cloud service providers typically store data in diverse locations that are further way from the production site of the organization subscribing to the service, there may be issues associated with longer response times and higher latency

Disadvantages Of Disaster Recovery On-Premises

  • Significant upfront costs: On-premises DR is a capital expenditure (CapEx) that requires a large upfront capital investment to build an onsite data center, and costs are not always predictable.
  • Real estate needed: Physical space is needed to build and store on-premises hardware
  • Set-up can be complicated: Deploying an on-premises DR system is a complex, long process that can require a significant amount of budget and resources
  • Difficult to scale: On-premises infrastructure doesn’t allow for easy scaling – it requires an investment in additional hardware and installation time to do so
  • Uptime and recovery times vary: It’s difficult to guarantee a specific percentage of up-time, and depending on the type of disaster, it can take longer to recover data
  • Lacks 24×7 resources: Typically, in-house skilled resources are not staffed 24×7/365, and there may be a delay in a team’s ability to enable business continuity and recovery.

Which Disaster Recovery Solution Is Best?

Effectively protecting your organization in the event of a disaster is a complex problem to solve, and the type of disaster recovery solution you choose ultimately depends on your goals.

Overall, however, as more organizations shift into the cloud, conventional DR solutions are losing steam. Why? Mainly due to cloud DR solutions being viewed as a cost-effective alternative that offers more scalability, reduced in-house maintenance, better data resiliency, and flexibility in how much data and where data can be stored off-site.

Additionally, DRaaS providers remove certain tasks, such as DR management, from an IT team’s plate which allows organizations to dedicate additional time to revenue-boosting projects. For example, TierPoint can implement and manage your DR solutions to and within Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, and help meet RPO and RTO objectives, define and validate your DR processes, and more.

Ultimately, the choice between on-premises and cloud DR solutions depends on many factors, including the size and complexity of your organization, the data and systems being protected, and budget constraints. With that, it’s pertinent to carefully consider your needs, goals, and potential roadblocks, as well as consult with experienced professionals as needed, when making such mission-critical decisions relating to DR.

How TierPoint’s DRaaS Solutions Can Help

Regardless of your current environment, TierPoint can protect your workloads from anywhere-to-anywhere. We work one-on-one with our clients to understand your unique challenges and goals so we can help design DR plans that:

  • Incorporate the best suited mix of DRaaS solutions for your needs
  • Support your revenue growth and brand reputation
  • Address protection scenarios pertaining to failover and failback for on-premises, hosted private cloud, public cloud, and data centers
  • Mitigate losses due to cyber attacks
  • Increase the rate of security patching

Ready to learn more about how cloud DR can help your business? Schedule a consultation with a cloud expert today.


Can You Set Up Disaster Recovery In the Cloud?

Yes, you can set up disaster recovery in the cloud by using cloud-based Disaster Recovery solutions, such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), via a third-party provider.

What Is The Difference Between Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery?

Cloud backup is the process of routinely backing up data to a remote, cloud-based location whereas disaster recovery is the full process of restoring IT systems and data in the event of a disaster. Cloud backup is regularly included within a disaster recovery plan.

Why is Disaster Recovery in the Cloud vs On-Premises Important?

Disaster Recovery in the Cloud is important because it offers advantages over on-premises, such as: greater scalability, increased flexibility, better accessibility, and improved reliability. Additionally, cloud-based DR can be a more cost-effective solution for businesses over on-premises Disaster Recovery.

Is Disaster Recovery In the Cloud Safer than On-Premises?

Cloud-based disaster recovery can be a safer alternative to on-premises disaster recovery because cloud Disaster Recovery solutions typically offer advanced security features and redundant data centers located in diverse geographic regions.

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