Disaster recovery best practice: Taking care of business with cloud PCs

IT leaders know the numbers: According to FEMA, 40 percent of businesses fail to recover from a disaster. That’s why disaster recovery (DR) planning is one of the top priorities for IT teams. When a business disruption happens, such as a natural disaster, what is the most effective and affordable way to jumpstart productivity once people are safe? The good news is that with cloud computing, a natural disaster doesn’t also have to be a financial disaster. With the right plan and the right technology, you can keep your business running – even when employees cannot reach their PCs or workstations at the office.

Is your DR plan putting the business at risk?

Organisations using physical PCs need to plan for a time when people can’t travel to the office to access those devices. Many vendors offer services involving alternative office space, whether an offsite location or a mobile recovery unit (MRU) that is delivered on-site. Unfortunately, these legacy DR solutions have limitations that introduce risk to your business – both functional and financial – at a time when you need certainty.

It begins with the planning process, which can be very complex. Solution due diligence, lengthy checklists, intricate sizing exercises and initial testing are time-consuming and IT resource-intensive. However, the real challenges begin when these resources need to be deployed.

If people need to travel either to a mobile recovery unit or to an offsite office location, a natural disaster could impact transportation infrastructure so severely that these alternative work locations are rendered useless. In some cases, the MRU could simply be undeliverable to the designated site. Moreover, factors such as limited hardware configurations, capacity constraints and limited availability of alternative DR office sites all create uncertainty around your ability to recover.

Legacy DR solutions also force a trade-off between Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and cost. Businesses required to execute fast time-to-recovery feel the financial pinch as costs climb to meet an aggressive RTO.

Finally, there is the issue of testing. Forrester Research teamed up with the Disaster Recovery Journal to ask IT and risk mitigation professionals about their disaster recovery plans to gauge the maturity of such planning. The most recent survey in 2018 revealed that more than 50 percent of businesses never conduct a full DR simulation test, and more than 40 percent conduct it only once a year. With such low levels of testing, how can a business leader be confident that their DR solution will be sufficient and work when it is needed? Without this critical step, the probability of a DR failure climbs.

Cloud computing changes the DR landscape

Damage sustained from natural disasters can rob your business of physical IT assets, but the real damage done is when business data is lost. This is why virtual desktops are a great approach to PC disaster recovery; your company data is safe in a central location rather than being stored on individual devices. But not just any virtual desktop will do. When PCs and GPU workstations are delivered from a public cloud, the right solution can deliver a wealth of benefits, beginning with cloud PCs that are activated with one click, enabling employees to work from anywhere that’s safe using a PC, Mac, iOS or Android device.

There’s no need for employee training, no need to guesstimate what resources will be needed when disaster strikes or compromise on RTO because costs are too high. And because your corporate Windows image is used for your DR cloud PCs, they are always up to date. Formal testing of your cloud PCs isn’t needed, but if there are compliance reasons for periodic testing (or if it just makes you feel better to do so), you can activate your cloud PCs anytime, day or night, with a single click and without disrupting the business.

Always be prepared

An ideal DR plan should be simple to set up and fast to activate when needed, and the resources should be easy to scale. Cloud PCs are an affordable, always at-the-ready solution that delivers on each of these requirements, allowing IT teams to operate with confidence that they can take care of business when it is threatened.

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