Virtualization and cloud computing technologies hold a great promise to reduce costs and improve utilization. As a by-product, new services are being added to improve recovery capabilities and operational resiliency. Any new technology requires a catch-up period to adopt new processes, build controls, and establish operational governance. A key to success will be developing the processes to address system management, change control, and security requirements. As applications are migrated to a virtual cloud computing environment, these new processes must be available to effectively monitor and manage the environment. Business applications will also need to be enhanced to take full advantage of the new technology. Organizations will need to track applications, measure peak performance and build resilient services. This will also include the ability to validate the recovery plans and capabilities while addressing capacity and latency concerns. The continued adoption of ITIL standards will help guide this transition.
Virtualization and cloud technology has the potential to significantly change the way we address Disaster Recovery (DR). The environment will provide greater flexibility to validate recovery capabilities moving us closer to operational resiliency while at the same time reducing the complexity and size of DR plans. The ability to merge applications and monitor utilization on contingent hardware will reduce costs and help justify the investment in continuity services. However, the consolidation provided through virtualization must be measured against the capacity required to support a significant processing disruption. The planned switch of an application to support business needs (e.g., maintenance tasks) is not the same as supporting a significant processing disruption. The migration to a virtual cloud computing environment must be able to support disaster recovery requirements, including testing, while at the same time providing operational resiliency.
Action Item: Technology controls, processes, and tools must be developed and implemented to ensure the proper governance of virtualization and cloud computing technology. This includes the integration of operational resiliency features with existing DR recovery plans and strategies.