Disaster Recovery as a Service Comes of Age

Richard Long

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is no longer an unproven new idea with a lot of question marks attached. It is now all grown up and has a lot to offer almost all organizations that have data to protect, no matter how much use they are making of the cloud currently.

In today’s post, we’ll remind you of what DRaaS is all about, sketch out how different organizations can benefit from it, and share some of the special considerations involved in using it.

 

DISASTER RECOVERY AS A SERVICE IN A NUTSHELL

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS, pronounced “D-Rass”) is the use of third-party vendors to provide cloud-based backup and recovery of organizational servers and data. For virtual server environments, the servers and data are kept in sync in the provider’s environment using replication technologies. Many providers also support physical servers using a physical to virtual protection solution which converts the physical server on-premises to a virtual server in the DRaaS environment.

DRaaS can be used in place of or in combination with traditional recovery solutions.

 

A HIGHLY FLEXIBLE SOLUTION

Disaster Recovery as a Service has evolved into a highly flexible recovery solution. It can offer benefits to companies that are completely virtualized or highly virtualized with some physical servers. For a mostly physical server-based environment, it would be a good option for this limited virtual environment.

The chief benefits of DRaaS are that it can be cost-effective and that it reduces the burden of infrastructure-related DR maintenance on the client organization, allowing it to focus on what it does best.

With DRaaS, you’re only using the cloud to recover and only using what you need if and when it is needed.

It can also benefit organizations that have a robust, traditional DR infrastructure in place. In such organizations, DRaaS can be used to recover lower priority applications that are not truly implemented in DR or are only being protected with a back-up and restore solution. It can also be set up as a future solution for the organization to transition to gradually move from an internally managed infrastructure DR as their physical environment ages.

 

THE FINE PRINT OF SWITCHING TO DRaaS

 

There are a number of special considerations that affect how different organizations can use DRaaS. Here are some of them:

  • Some physical environments are too big to virtualize, for example, physical servers with large databases.
  • Not all DRaaS providers support all operating systems that are currently in use. If your organization uses older technology, such as Windows 2008 Server or older Linux systems, you might find that your DRaaS options are limited.
  • The same goes for databases.
  • Some organizations are more wary than others about shifting to virtual, third-party solutions. This is becoming less frequent but may be an issue in some organizations.
  • Moving to a cloud DR solution might require an organization to extend its network architecture to leverage the cloud environment and remote access capabilities. This is usually not a major hurdle.
  • Any special privacy and data security requirements affecting your physical servers would need to be extended into your DRaaS.

 

THE HYBRID APPROACH

Effective Disaster Recovery almost always uses a hybrid approach. There are few organizations for which DRaaS will be the only solution unless it is completely virtualized.

When organizations shift to DRaaS the following typically remain on physical servers controlled by the company:

  • Physical servers which cannot be converted to virtual.
  • High availability systems or applications (zero downtime); but there are solutions for this as well.
  • Servers with unsupported operating systems or databases.
  • Legacy applications or those close to retirement.
  • Applications with special requirements such as communication, security, regulatory, and dependent technologies.

 

AN ONGOING PROJECT

Do you remember the old commercial telling dentures-wearers they should “Fixodent and forget it”? Well, DRaaS is not that way.

Organizations that shift to Disaster Recovery as a Service shed most of their infrastructure maintenance worries, but they still have to manage and maintain their DR program which includes testing and ensuring that what is being protected is up to date.

They must manage their relationship with the vendor and validate their data after recovery. Understanding how to support in the cloud-based environment after recovery may be new and require additional training for the technical teams.

 

SUMMING UP

In recent years, Disaster Recovery as a Service has gone from the new kid on the block to a reliable, cost-effective recovery solution for organizations of all kinds.

Shifting to DRaaS will likely require you to make adjustments to your network architecture and remote access capabilities. And DRaaS vendors tend to offer limited support for older operating systems and databases.

However, there is nothing wrong with having a hybrid program. In fact, a hybrid approach is usually best for effective IT disaster recovery.

Finally, for all its conveniences, DRaaS is not something where you can push a button and forget about it. A DRaaS solution still must be actively managed.

Whether your organization is almost completely virtualized or continues to rely on physical servers, you might benefit from using a third-party, cloud-based data backup service for some of your recovery needs.

 

FURTHER READING

For more information on IT/DR and other hot topics in business continuity management, check out these recent posts from MHA Consulting and BCMMETRICS:

 

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