Disaster Recovery as a Service is enabling recovery options that may have been unattainable by many organizations in the past. Traditional disaster recovery had high costs of entry as well as steep technical requirements, but with Cloud-based options, these are being brought to a level that even small and medium sized businesses can reach.
Why Cloud is Helping
There are plenty of reasons Cloud computing is making such an impact on businesses, but two simple keys are that Cloud providers bring technical expertise to bear that individual companies might not be able to staff internally, and with the pay-as-you-go price models the cost is not unreachable to get a recovery plan in place.
Two key concepts are Recovery Time Objective (RTO) which is how long it takes to execute the recovery, and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) which is how current the data is upon recovery. Both are important, but RPO is sometimes underplayed. If you plan to recover from weekly backups, your data at the point of recovery can be up to a week old. In some instances, that is fine. In others, it would be disastrous! Know your terms and your requirements.
Disaster Recovery as a Service may take on several different forms. The common point is your target site will be in the Cloud.
- All Cloud: Both your normal production environment and your DR target are Cloud-based solutions. This scenario eliminates the need for on-premise processing, and shifts data transfer requirements between production and DR site to your Cloud provider. Be certain, however, that your provider has sufficient capacity, redundancy and location diversity to meet your requirements.
- Premise to Cloud: Normal production processing is performed on premises in your own location, but when disaster strikes you recover to a Cloud-based Disaster Recovery as a Service location. Eventually, when your premise data center is restored, service is moved back. You would likely involve a Backup as a Service to that same Cloud provider to minimize recovery time moving the data, but data transfer may still be an issue when restoring service to your premise, depending on the volume of data to be moved.
- Cloud Hot Site: For critical applications, the fastest and freshest recovery option is to replicate data to the Cloud real-time, where your Disaster Recovery as a Service provider has already provisioned servers configured with your applications. The recovery site is ready to activate and take over production processing. A Cloud hot site can be configured for any source site, premise or Cloud, including alternative Cloud service providers if warranted for recovery diversity. This will be more expensive, so likely a solution reserved for a small subset of critical applications.
Recovery and Backup
Keep in mind that Backup as a Service is not the same as Disaster Recovery as a Service. Backups are certainly a part of having the data to recover in the event of a disaster, but it is just a part. You still need to recover or rebuild the infrastructure, including servers, applications and network before the data will be useful. Backups are primarily focused on safe acquisition and storage of data, while DR is focused on restoration of service. A disaster recovery plan will include specifics on how the data will be backed up, but a backup service ends with providing a means of retrieving your backed up data.
A final thought, the more you engage with Cloud providers, the more critical your vetting becomes. They are becoming a trusted partner in your enterprise. It is up to you to ensure they are capable and worthy of your confidence.