Enterprises spend billions every year maintaining (and powering) duplicate racks and even entire data centers, solely for occasional potential use (in the event of an unforeseen outage or disaster). Required by law in many cases, it is probably one of the largest IT investments with among the lowest returns on investment. The money invested in disaster recovery isn’t wasted; it simply represents money well spent ensuring that applications will be highly available to users. In the financial community (and others responsible for handling massive amounts of transactions and critical supply chain data), the cost of downtime has been well documented and more than justifies the DR investment. Outages are often more costly in terms of lost revenue, brand erosion and employee productivity. So DR is like a kind of insurance policy, except instead of a policy-holder getting compensated for a loss the policy-holder instead maintains two (or more) of everything. That is perhaps not the most efficient use of high cost IT assets as well as the energy used to power them. The cloud’s pay as you go model is a much more efficient model for the occasional use dynamics of disaster recovery. Yet that has yet to happen, at least for traditional multi-tier enterprise apps. The public cloud has not evolved sufficiently to support the specialized service integration and controls required for recovery time and recovery point objectives; and the private cloud is simply a way for enterprises to maintain a duplicate app and service infrastructure more efficiently, albeit while paying a virtualization vendor for the right to do so. That is why I’m convinced that the hybrid cloud is an ideal operating model for disaster recovery. That is, a hybrid cloud that is a seamless extension of the data center. For small and medium-sized enterprises that simply cannot afford enterprise-class disaster recovery or larger enterprises that want a more efficient or supplemental level of protection, the hybrid cloud is the optimum operating model. Pay as you go for DR gives them both incentives to reduce downtime and the ability to invest in greater IT innovation. Yet many executives, pros and vendors are trapped in an outdated notion of a hybrid cloud as two distinct clouds (private and public) with some fundamental app migration capabilities shared between them. That definition would not support the requirements for enterprise-grade disaster recovery. For aggressive RTOs and RPOs the hybrid cloud needs to be a seamless extension of the data center, including services like authentication, LDAP and Active Directory. It needs to support physical and virtual apps and be operating beyond the grip of virtualization or service provider lock-in. When enterprises truly understand the power of a hybrid cloud operating model and how to deploy it, disaster recovery will be transformed into a more effective, efficient and powerful way to protect critical applications. Greg Ness is vice president of worldwide marketing at CloudVelocity, a leader in hybrid cloud software for the Global 2000. As a Future in Review (FiRe) conference panelist, he was among the first to point out network and security issues with virtualized IT infrastructures and then emerging cloud operating models, which led to the formation of the Infrastructure 2.0 Working Group with FiRe advisor Dan Lynch and a host of leaders in the networking industry. Greg's Archimedius blog is one of the world's most influential cloud computing blogs. He was recently named as a Power Player in Business Technology Media by Always On. He has spoken at Interop, Cisco Live, and Future in Review on topics related to virtualization, networking, and cloud computing. Greg has a BA from Reed College and an MA from the University of Texas at Austin.