How to Use AWS for Disaster Recovery

A disaster is undoubtedly one of the most predominant risks when running a businesses. It refers to any event or phenomenon which interrupts normal businesses processes or finances. In most cases, disasters are triggered by human errors, physical damages resulting from natural occurrences, power outages, networks outages, and software or hardware failure.

To prevent such occurrences and minimize potential damages in case of one, many organizations invest a significant amount of time and resources in strategizing and preparing their company entities. In addition to training employees to handle disasters, companies are also required to implement adequate restoration measures in case of complete system failures. If your company has a typical traditional physical environment, the most effectual strategy of protecting it is duplicating the infrastructure on a secondary platform to ensure spare capacity in case of a disaster- That’s where cloud disaster recovery comes in. According to a 2014 Forrester Research Report, about 19% of organizations have already adopted cloud disaster recovery to cushion themselves against potential damages. A significant majority of the respondents who hadn’t yet implemented it claimed that they are already drawing up plans to do so.

As the most popularly used cloud service, AWS has invested a lot of resources in disaster recovery as a strategy for improving user experience and staying ahead of its competitors. With an infrastructure that is consistently maintained, AWS is always capable of kicking in to support your operations in case of a disaster. Additionally, it’s highly scalable with a pay-as-you-go plan, which opens it up to all types of businesses regardless of their disaster management budgets. To help you comprehend how you can use AWS for disaster recovery, here are some of the main features and their relevance to AWS Disaster Recovery:

Deployment Orchestration

As an organization, you can significantly boost your recovery capability by investing in post-startup software installation/configuration and deployment automation processes. Some of the tools that you could use include:

  • AWS OpsWorks: Built as an application management service, AWS OpsWorks facilitates operation of different types of applications and considerably eases deployment processes in case of a disaster. The service grants users tools necessary for creating an environment based on a series of layers which are configured as application tiers.
  • AWS ElasticBeanstalk: This is a flexible service critical for scaling and deploying a wide range of services and applications built on Docker, Ruby, Python, Node.js, PHP, .NET, and Java.
  • AWS CloudFormation: This allows you to easily build and provision a set of related AWS resources in a predictable and orderly fashion.


Just like Deployment Orchestration, there are three AWS database services which could be leveraged as you create a sustainable disaster recovery framework:

  • Amazon Redshift: This cost effective, fully-managed, fast, petabyte-scale database service is particularly ideal for the preparation phase of your entire disaster recovery strategy. It’s efficacious in data analysis and can be used to duplicate your entire data warehouse and subsequently store it in Amazon s3.
  • Amazon DynamoDB: Just like the former, this NoSQL data warehouse service can be effectively leveraged in the preparation phase to duplicate data to Amazon s3 or DynamoDB within another region. It’s fully managed, fast, and comes with single digit, millisecond latency.
  • Amazon Relational Database Service: Just as its name suggests, this is a user-friendly service optimized for setting up, scaling and operating relational cloud databases. It can used in the recovery phase to execute the production database, or in the preparation phase to store vital data in a running database.


Managing and modifying network settings is imperative if you need to smoothly shift to a secondary system in case of a disaster. Some of the primary AWS networking features and services that are effectual in this include:

  • Amazon Direct Connect: This service eases the process of building a dedicated network connection between Amazon Web Services and your organization. In case of a disaster, this strategy increases bandwidth throughput, reduces network costs and provides a better, more persistent network experience compared to internet-based solutions.
  • Amazon Virtual Private Cloud: This service allows you to create an isolated, private AWS cloud section where you can manage and operate resources within a determined virtual network. In case of a disaster, you can efficiently use it to push your existing network typology to the cloud.
  • Elastic Load Balancing: ELB is built to split applications and subsequently spread them across different EC2 instances. It’s capable of simplifying the implementation of your disaster recovery plan by pre-locating the load balancer, subsequently revealing its DNS name.

Regional Bases

To safeguard their data, many organizations choose to store their primary backups on sites located far away from their main physical environments. If an earthquake or a large scale computer malware hit the United States for example, businesses with secondary servers positioned outside the country would have a better chance of recovering than ones that don’t.

Amazon Web Services has servers spread out across the globe to cater to such clientele. You can therefore choose to place your disaster recovery data in a separate region from where your primary system is positioned. Some of the regions include Asia Pacific, EMEA and Americas. Due to the sensitivity of government data, there are also special regions which are only applicable to government organizations and China.

With these features, AWS has undoubtedly proven to be one of the most efficient disaster recovery service providers in the market. This list however is incomprehensive- there are many other features which are implemented depending on a user’s disaster recovery strategy. For a fully optimized disaster recovery framework, an organization should consult an expert to analyze its potential risks to subsequently draft a comprehensive disaster recovery plan with all the requisite AWS features.

Author: Davis Porter