How to: disaster recovery in the cloud

With the growing transition to cloud computing in healthcare, some IT departments are hosting their disaster recovery programs in the cloud along with other “as a service” programs.

Jeff Rowe | May 22, 2018 12:00 am

Just as healthcare organizations are increasingly looking to the cloud for the cost-effective advantages it offers for storing, analyzing and sharing data, many are picking up on the cloud’s potential when it comes to the ultimate data protection: disaster recovery plans.

As tech consultant Reda Chouffani recently summed it up, with the increasing use of cloud services for data protection purposes, IT must adjust to the new reality of cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) options.

He says, however, that there a number of considerations health IT pros must keep in mind as they implement a cloud-based healthcare disaster recovery plan.

For example, HIPAA and other compliance requirements. “Despite the newness of cloud DR services and its security hype,” he explains, “IT is still required to ensure their new DRaaS initiative meets all HIPAA requirements. This includes having a business associate agreement and ensuring all HIPAA mandates are met through the appropriate configurations and setup.”

On a more practical level, he next points to the need for “connectivity between cloud DR site and on-premises workloads.”

Flexible scalability is one of the most attractive attributes of the cloud, and that same flexibility is available as part of DR-as-a-service (DRaaS).  But Chouffani notes “one common challenge that IT faces frequently when implementing disaster recovery is heavy data traffic due to backups and replication between on-premises workloads and their DR destination. Connectivity or appropriate bandwidth can make the difference between a successful DR implementation or its failure.”

Frequent testing to address potential recovery faults is also critical, he says, and “cloud vendors provide easy-to-use DR solutions that can be tested independently while continuing to protect production systems with just a few simple clicks.”

Finally, there’s the ever-present desire to control costs, and on that note Chouffani says in order to ensure cost controls and accurate budgeting, “IT must define all the costs associated with their DR strategy upfront and forecast what the overall estimated monthly fees would be.”

The cloud for healthcare disaster recovery eliminates the upfront investments needed for traditional on-premises DR solutions. The cloud has also proven to be far more scalable and flexible for healthcare organizations that are continuously expanding their environments and in need of flexibility to accommodate their fast-growing systems. Despite the appeal that cloud-based healthcare disaster recovery services have, concerns around costs, security and speed of recovery remain top of mind for many.