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Should you be Using Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service?

There’s no doubt that building disaster recovery (DR) plans for your organization can be tough. There are an amazing number of factors that you have to consider, plan for, and purchase.

First, you need to identify your business critical workloads and all of their components as well as knowing their dependencies and their startup precedence. You need to determine your Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) — the maximum period of time that an application can be unavailable and your Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) — the maximum amount of data loss you can tolerate. In many cases, setting up an effective DR plan for your business often involves building up physical DR backup sites, buying hardware to handle your DR workloads, and using a data replication solution to transfer your production data to the backup DR site. Although there’s no doubt this is an essential undertaking it can also be lengthy, complicated and incredibly expensive.

Even though most businesses do have a DR plan in place, it’s not surprising that many organizations are not confident in their DR capabilities. The Veeam Availability Report for 2017  showed that six out of seven organizations lack a high level of confidence in their ability to reliably recover the data from their virtual environments. Further, 85% of respondents rated themselves less than very confident in their organization’s capabilities of VM backup and recovery.

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Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.

Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) has emerged as an alternative to traditional DR implementations and it promises the ability to simplify your DR processes as well as cut costs.

What is DRaaS?

DRaaS is a relatively new approach to DR that has been made possible by the continued maturation of cloud technologies. DRaaS is typically a cloud‐based service that enables businesses to set up cloud-based workload processing and data replication for DR. Leveraging cloud‐based resources can be far less expensive than building physical standby sites. Plus, DRaaS providers take care of the back‐end complexity involved in the DR process. They typically provide a simple user interface for setting up and managing your DR resources and workloads. For added protection, the DRaaS provider will usually implement some form of geo-replication to ensure that no data loss occurs even if the provider itself has some sort of failure in their primary cloud processing facility.

DRaaS Benefits

DRaaS can be especially useful for small and medium-sized businesses that lack the necessary expertise and resources to create and test an effective DR plan. Some of the main benefits provided by DRaaS solutions include:

  • Reducing DR costs — Businesses that currently have a secondary site for DR purposes know the high costs they incur – hardware purchases, software licenses, storage, networking and replication software. DRaaS can eliminate many of these costs by utilizing cloud resources.
  • Reducing complexity – DR planning and implementation can be complex. DRaaS solutions are able to simplify not only the hardware and operational aspects of DR but also the implementation logistics. Their UI usually enables you to define related workload components and set the relationship and precedence between them. They also support dissimilar systems so that businesses can protect workloads running across different OSes and hypervisors.
  • Reducing IT resources spent on DR – Traditional DR planning, deployment and testing often requires the involvement of many different people and in many cases even people from outside the IT department. The entire implementation process can take months from planning to initial testing. DRaaS can often be deployed by just a few employees and it can often be completed within hours or days.
  • Providing easy DR testing – One of the biggest DR shortcomings for many businesses is the fact that they cannot adequately test their DR plans. DR plans can be complex and testing them can be time-consuming and difficult. DRaaS solutions typically provide easy-to-use testing capabilities that don’t impact the production environment.

DRaaS Solutions

Enterprises have been slow to adopt DRaaS solutions as they usually have existing DR solutions in place and the number of assets that they need to include can be daunting. However, DRaaS solutions can be especially attractive to smaller and medium sized businesses that do not have the extensive infrastructure that most enterprises do. Today several DRaas solutions are readily available. Like you would expect the two big cloud providers, Microsoft and Amazon both offer DRaaS solutions. Microsoft, provides DRaaS through its Azure Site Recovery (ASR) service. Amazon provides AWS Disaster Recovery. In addition, some backup and data protection companies also provide DRaaS services like Veeam’s Disaster Recovery as a Service.

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Michael Otey is president of TECA, a technical content production, consulting and software development company in Portland,
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