Cloud-based computing is coming of age. The practice is emerging as a computing model that offers flexibility in infrastructure and investment.

The core of this service is utility that is backed by loosely coupled infrastructure that is self healing, geographically dispersed, designed for user self service, writes Samantha Sai for

The infrastructure is instantly scalable and adjustable to the ebb and flow of business. The services are accessible across IP based networks and all management issues are handled by the cloud provider.

Users can demand raw compute or storage capacity resources or full blow application services instantly.

Cloud storage is seen as a solution to the ever present need for cost effective storage.

Cloud based systems provide easily accessible, affordable disaster recovery options for large enterprises that need to implement off site protection for new projects.

Small and medium enterprises find this highly affordable and an interesting alternative to expensive investment in storage hardware.

Recovery point and recovery time objectives of small, medium and large enterprises can be met by cloud storage providers who make available storage space on a pay as you go basis while taking on the management issues of such secondary location storage infrastructure.

Amazon Web Services, with EC2 Compute Cloud, and GoGrid, with GoGrid Cloud Hosting, are some cloud storage service providers who make compute cycles and storage capacity available on immediate deployment basis.

The replication creates copies of the enterprise data on these sites and allows the key applications to be restarted and run at the remote location in the event of disaster. Interestingly there will be no capital expenditure—only operational expenditure—till the disaster recovery happens.

The replication technology is available in storage arrays; network based appliances and through host based software.

Array based replication and Network based applications require similar setup at both the source and the target locations. Host based replication on the other hand use block based replication approaches or file based approaches to replicate virtual machines in real time.

Host based replication can also be combined with cloud based infrastructure at a nominal cost for extending protection further down the hierarchy in the organization. The replication can also happen real time.

Replication and cloud computing have certainly matured and are being considered as an effective alternative to local backup.

Eric Burgener, a senior analyst and consultant with the Taneja Group research and consulting firm, said replication and cloud computing can also be considered as an alternative to local backup.

Eric Burgener, Taneja Group

"Disk-based backup has a lot to offer companies, including faster backups, faster restores, and more reliable recovery (relative to tape-based infrastructures)," he said.

"If you’re considering moving to disk, don’t overlook the fact that it gives you access to replication technology.

"For data sets that require stringent RPOs/RTOs, replication can be used to kill two birds with one stone: data is quickly and easily available for file- and even system-level restores from the remote location, but the fact that the location is remote provides the resilience demanded by a DR plan."

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