Asheville, NC moves disaster recovery to the cloud

Jonathan Feldman, the CIO for the city of Asheville, North Carolina, made a big splash recently when he decided to migrate the city's disaster recovery operations to the cloud.

When Feldman took over as CIO, he was dismayed to find out that Asheville's disaster recovery facility was located two blocks away from City Hall. The city had already started using the cloud to host some geographic applications, as well as IT development and testing environments, and Feldman was interested in finding a way to expand the use of their cloud infrastructure. Using a cloud disaster recovery platform, Feldman was able to use a pre-built automation tool that would essentially run the city's disaster recovery program on its own and ensure business continuity.

"I was not comfortable with us coming up with a home-brewed automation system to do something as critical as disaster recovery," said Feldman in an interview with SaaS In The Enterprise. "We don't do it enough to be a core competency for us."

With Asheville's disaster recovery operations off site and in the cloud, the city no longer has to worry about losing both primary systems and their backups at the same time if a storm were to knock out power. Utilizing a cloud-based platform also allows the city to only pay for disaster recovery when they need it, instead of paying around the clock for a physical facility.

Feldman started small with the migration to the cloud, transitioning only important but non-essential applications first with plans to grow capacity once the platform has been proven. The new disaster recovery system was designed to test one system each quarter, with each test taking between one and four hours to complete.

"We're able to failover pretty quickly, and failover very inexpensively, and have a high degree of confidence because of automation," said Feldman. "When we do disaster recovery, we know it's actually going to work. Between that and the geographic dispersion, that's huge."