Cloud ROI Easy Win: Disaster Recovery - InformationWeek
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Cloud ROI Easy Win: Disaster Recovery

Goodwill Industries finds lower costs, plus benefits from IT staff working on higher value projects.

As a nonprofit with $100 million in revenue, Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana -- like any business -- needs effective backup and disaster recovery. But with a small IT staff, it found it expensive to test its off-site systems. Each year, two key system administrators had to go off-site for weeks at a time as they patched and updated the recovery systems before a live test.

So Jeff Ton, CIO and senior VP of corporate connectivity, turned to a DR service from Bluelock, a local provider of cloud services compatible with VMware environments. Ton stored complete copies of Goodwill's primary systems as virtual machines and established a frequently updated copy of its production data.

Nearly any IT manager could administer a test of the system without tying up the staff's top configuration and update specialists. Ton estimates use of the cloud DR service over physical systems saves Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana $25,000 a year -- "significant numbers when you're a nonprofit," he says.

But the benefits go beyond the dollar savings. "Our guys are freed up to do things that are strategic to Goodwill," Ton says, such as building a data warehouse to track the 3,000 students who attend the 10 high school programs that it runs. The data warehouse has proved successful enough at finding key indicators of likely student dropouts that other high schools in the area have contracted Goodwill to run its analytics on their student data. Says Ton: "It's become a revenue generator instead of a cost center."

[Read related stories: Cloud ROI: Why It's Still Hard To Measure and Milliman Strives For ROI With Azure System.]

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
8/11/2014 | 7:22:28 PM
DR in the cloud, more than just connections
Although it's a proven concept, it's much easier to implement disaster recovery in the cloud if you and the cloud vendor understand it will require added bandwidth in the event of a real disaster. The regular data back up line won't be enough.
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