Before you use Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) disaster recovery solutions, you might want to understand the definitions of certain terms that are related to disaster recovery operations.

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning

Disaster Recovery (DR)
Disaster recovery concerns the collected set of tools, equipment, policies, and procedures required to recover a business environment in the event of some disaster. This disaster can be a natural or environmental event such as flood or fire, it can be a technical issue such as power loss or critical equipment failure, or can be caused by human factors (inadvertent or otherwise). Disaster recovery solutions are often designed with two or more geographically-separated environments to facilitate returning business processes back to a normal standard of operation, even in the event that one environment is unrecoverable.
Business Continuity Planning (BCP)
Business continuity planning is a superset of the disaster recovery design process. With business continuity planning, the goal is to identify the items that minimally need to be running as soon as possible after a disaster-level event has occurred. While all business processes may need to be restored after an event, each process has a particular priority that defines how soon that must occur and what level of data loss is tolerable from that event. Two metrics that help define this are the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

Seven tiers for disaster recovery

The seven tiers for disaster recovery are used to provide a concise definition. The tiers that are most relevant to this document are tier 4 and 5.

Tier 4: Point-in-time recovery
In this tier, point-in-time copies of storage volumes, files or dates are created at a specific moment, such as end-of-day. The copies are stored in an active-secondary site, either company-owned or provided by a third party. Copies are stored at both the primary and secondary sites, each site backing up the other. Disk and solid-state storage are used in this tier, as well as cloud storage technology.
Cloudera backup and disaster recovery is designed to deliver a tier 4 capability between one or more separate clusters in different regions.
Tier 5: Two-site commit/transaction integrity
At this tier, data is continuously transmitted to primary and alternate backup sites. Organizations need substantial network bandwidth, often provided through the internet, to maintain a constant flow of data. Local as well as remote storage can be used in this situation. Cloud storage is often a fit at this tier.
If higher levels of disaster recovery are required then certain services and applications can be configured to achieve it. For example Kafka in combination with Streams Replication or HBase in an active-active configuration can achieve these requirements. However HDFS can only typically achieve tier 4.
For more information, see Seven tiers of disaster recovery.

Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

The Recovery Point Objective defines how much data loss is tolerated as a direct outcome of an incident. Another way to think of this is how recent your data needs to be on the secondary site to permit recovery operations. This metric is measured over a particular time period for recovery purposes. For example, if you can only tolerate five minutes worth of data loss, having a disaster recovery strategy that synchronizes data hourly is insufficient. The RPO directly affects how frequently your disaster recovery environments must be synchronized or backed up to survive an incident. Additionally, this also drives the design of the disaster recovery environment. As you move closer to near- or real-time data synchronization, depending on your storage mechanism of choice, you may need to switch from periodic data synchronizing to dual-ingestion to achieve your RPO requirements.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
The Recovery Time Objective is a separate, but a related metric. This metric defines the amount of time you have to restore normal service to your business systems before you begin negatively impacting the business processes. In other words, how long after the incident can the system be down before the normal recovery process is impacted, such as requiring additional manual work to re-run processes.

High availability

When we talk about high availability (HA), we think about it in terms of both intra- and inter-cluster behavior. Additionally, availability requirements must be considered for the entire stack, from the CDP platform up to all applications built on top.

To minimize the risk of single components taking out an individual environment, we look at the single points of failure and attempt to reasonably address those within that system. As an example, we enable multiple HDFS NameNodes within CDP Private Cloud Base to allow the system to survive individual service issues. This helps reduce the need to fail-over to an entire disaster recovery environment, which further reduces the operational work required to recover from an individual service issue.

Additionally, we can think about high availability across equivalently configured clusters through the use of load balancers and suitable data, metadata, and workload synchronization. Dual-ingesting data into multiple clusters can help facilitate this mode of HA. In some cases, such as cost minimization, you may consider reducing availability within a cluster because overall availability is sufficiently provided across clusters.

Cloudera recommends considering high availability at all levels for all environments because the operational and runtime benefits far outweigh the cost reductions.


Backups are the processes, procedures, and equipment necessary to have a recoverable snapshot of the data, metadata, and related environmental information. Backing up data, metadata, and workload information is a form of disaster recovery preparation, but the time scales associated with restoring service may preclude it from being a sole source of recovery (that is, the recovery time is higher). Relying only on backups misses critical parts of the architecture such as replacement equipment, time to provision new equipment and environments, and so on.

Where backups come into play with disaster recovery is in the case of managing data corruption or data deletion. Without backups, the risk in a paired set of disaster recovery clusters is data corruption or deletion propagating between the two.

Environment naming

Disaster recovery clusters are traditionally designed in pairs or more. Cloudera recommends describing them in terms of Left/Right, A/B, or through regional monikers such as East/West. When naming environments like Production/Production-DR, you can get into some confusion post-failover, when Production-DR effectively becomes “Production”, and the original environment finally comes back online.

Active-Active and Active-Passive

Disaster Recovery architectures are designed in terms of Active-Active or Active-Passive.

In Active-Active designs, writes can go into each side of the disaster recovery pair, with the expectation that new or changed data is correctly and quickly replicated. Read requests can go to either side of the pair with some understanding that they may not be consistent within the bounds of replication latency behavior. For example, replication happens asynchronously in CDP. If a client writes to cluster A and immediately attempts to read that from cluster B because of a failover incident, the data may not look consistent to the client. Data consistency is only guaranteed within a single cluster environment.
In Active-Passive designs, one half of the pair is declared the primary. All reads and writes go to the primary, the passive cluster being configured as a read-only replica to reduce risks of inconsistencies. All data changes are replicated to the secondary environment. Generally, clients are never exposed to the secondary environment unless an incident occurs that requires failover between clusters. In some Active-Passive designs, clients may be directed to read from secondary environments when higher data latency can be tolerated. This allows you to utilize the additional idle capacity on the secondary cluster with the understanding that those use cases may need to be halted during a failure event.

Stretch clusters

A stretch cluster is a single logical cluster that is placed across multiple physical locations in a way to take advantage of cluster high availability mechanics. In general, stretch clusters are not well suited for disaster recovery scenarios, despite the reliance upon the cluster’s high-availability components. This cluster implementation type has several notable disadvantages including minimum location count, significant impact on performance due to latency, and incapability of all cluster or cluster management components of high availability operation. Additionally, you may need to provide more spare capacity to account for cluster behavior during failure situations, such as re-replication activities that occur within HDFS or Ozone when nodes go offline.
Minimum location set
Stretch clusters can only operate redundantly with three distinct locations because of the architectural design of lower level structural components needed by HDFS. Attempts to operate with two locations leave the cluster prone to failure when quorum operations occur during a critical event such as losing the dominant half of odd-numbered quorum services.
Lower level services, such as HDFS, YARN, and Zookeeper, are prone to significant negative performance impact as you stretch network latency. HDFS, for example, must wait for the data block write pipeline to complete before providing a consistent response to client write operations. Individual YARN jobs can see poor read performance if tasks are dispatched to nodes not co-located with the required data. The larger the network latency, the lower the overall read and write performance.