Disaster Recovery (DR) runs the gamut of being viewed as a vital cost of doing business to little more than a high priced complicated insurance policy. Where your organization falls on the spectrum could determine if you will be able to restore operations and remain in existence after a disaster occurs. Cloud computing has made some interesting changes in the DR landscape. So what exactly is this Disaster Recover as a Service (DRaaS)?
According to Wikipedia, DRaaS is “…a category of cloud computing used for protecting an application or data from a natural or human disaster or service disruption at one location by enabling a full recovery in the cloud.” This is different than Backup as a Service in that in addition to offsite storage of data, DRaaS also provides computing capacity in the offsite location. This enables faster recovery times, since the lead time required to provision and deploy physical computing systems is eliminated. And since it is delivered in a Cloud model, the target systems are typically only paid for when they are in use.
DRaaS vs Traditional DR
In traditional DR scenarios, a Warm or Hot site would be built and maintained as a target or receiver site. At a Warm site, data is routinely copied and resources exist that can be quickly repurposed to take on the production workload. Hot sites differ primarily in that they have real-time data replication from the production site, and systems are configured to run the production workload already.
With Disaster Recovery as a Service, you engage with a Cloud provider to execute the receiving side of your DR plan. All issues around who, what, when, where and how will be defined in a master agreement between you and the provider. Issues like;
- How computing resources are allocated – do you have a minimum contractually reserved capacity or is it on a first-come first-served basis?
- How frequently will the DR plan be tested? You do not want to find out during an actual recovery that you have gaps in your plan!
- What are the acceptable SLA targets for restoration of service as well as steady-state operation objectives like response time and availability?
- What safeguards are in place to protect or dispose of systems and data when service is returned to the production site? Residual data left on servers could become the source of a data breach.
- What happens your Disaster Recovery as a Service provider is unable to provide service when you have a disaster?
Two key advantages with with disaster recovery as a service are speed and expertise. Recovery time to restore production is reduced because hardware is already on the floor and the data does not need to be transmitted as part of the recovery. Additionally, DRaaS providers have deep expertise in this area, which can be lacking in many small and medium-sized businesses. By focusing on DR plans every day, they develop a breadth and depth of experience that an in-house DR coordinator will never gain from executing one or two DR tests each year.
Another potential benefit is that your organization will not need to invest in building and maintaining your own off-site DR environment. This will be offset by the cost of your DRaaS plan, but as with many things in life, hiring an expert to do something it is often more cost effective – and much simpler – than taking the DIY route. If DR makes sense for your business (and it does), Disaster Recovery as a Service may be the right option for you.