Cloud technologies, and especially the public cloud, is evolving rapidly but businesses have been slow to move their production workloads into the cloud. One of the reasons for this is simply that changing critical services can be risky and changing any business critical applications takes time and careful planning. However, one of the easier ways to begin to take advantage of cloud computing is for backup and disaster recovery (DR). Cloud storage is easily accessible and can be more cost effective than buying local storage. Plus, you can take advantage of the cloud’s IaaS capabilities to quickly fire up your backup VMs in the cloud in the event of a server or site failure.

Related: Hyper-V Replica for Disaster Recovery

One company that’s stepping in to fill the gap in the cloud backup/DR space is HotLink. I recently had a briefing with HotLink about their newest HotLink DR Express offering that was announced on August 19, 2013. Probably best known for their multiple hypervisor management product, HotLink SuperVISOR, the new HotLink DR Express product builds on their seamless integration with the VMware’s vSphere client to enable the vSphere administrator to control the backup and replication of VMs.

HotLink provides a vCenter Management Plug-in for Amazon Web Services (AWS) that enables VM replication between vSphere and AWS. After the initial replication, HotLink DR Express provides an ongoing synchronization process between the VMs in vSphere and the backup VMs in AWS. HotLink DR Express allows you to set customizable restore points. During the replication and synchronization phase, you only need to pay for the low-cost storage required in Amazon S3. If an outage occurs, the VMs in AWS can be quickly powered-on.

Related: Microsoft's New Windows Azure Iaas Challenges Amazon

While the VMs are running in Amazon, you need to pay for the IaaS services provided. When the outage is corrected, HotLink DR Express enables you to migrate the VMs back to vSphere. In this initial release, HotLink DR Express only works with Amazon but in the future, HotLink intends to expand it to other cloud providers as well.

Using the cloud for backup and DR can cost considerably less than maintaining a hot DR site. It can also enable you to easily verify your backup VMs without disrupting your production services. Backup and DR are areas that make a lot of sense for the cloud.

Related: Integrating Hyper-V and vSphere Management