Comprehensive disaster recovery plans and geographically diverse infrastructure deployments have historically been limited to large enterprise organizations. They were an expensive and time-consuming luxury out of the reach of smaller businesses. In the cloud era, that's no longer the case. Even the smallest business can deploy infrastructure in multiple data centers without breaking the bank.
Disaster can take many forms, from a server admin tripping over a network cable to a hurricane, and from a DDoS attack to a buggy line of code that causes an application to come grinding to a halt. These events don't happen often — they're paradigmatic black swans. But the thing about black swans is that they do happen and they're inherently unpredictable.
If it sounds like I'm painting an overly gloomy picture, think about the potential cost of protracted downtime to your business. And then think about how much it would cost to implement a disaster recovery and redundancy plan that would significantly reduce the chances of such a loss.
Geographical diversity used to be time-consuming and expensive. For smaller companies balancing the risk with the cost, the decision often went against investing in redundant architecture in a geographically distant data center. However, in the modern cloud infrastructure environment, creating an alternative infrastructure platform is within the reach of most small and medium enterprises.
To consider one scenario: your company's applications are hosted on colocated servers in a data center near your company's main offices. You've used the same data center for years without any significant problems. Colocating new servers in a data center on the other side of the country, or even elsewhere in the same city, would require an investment almost equal to the original infrastructure investment.
Leveraging a cloud platform substantially reduces the cost. Cloud servers are simple to spin up when you need them. Server images can be created in advance, ready for deployment. Essential databases can be regularly migrated to the secondary location, serving as both a backup and for redundancy. And then, when disaster strikes, recovery takes hours rather than days or weeks.
It might help to think about infrastructure in the same way you think about data. It's widely understood that if data exists in only one place, it barely exists at all. Backups and backups of backups are a normal part of every business's disaster recover plan.
Cloud servers are essentially just data. They're active data virtualized on physical hardware, but data nonetheless. In the same way that it makes sense to ensure your company's data exists in more than one location, it makes sense to duplicate infrastructure — something that Infrastructure-as-a-Service makes eminently achievable.