99 problems but the cloud ain't one: Disaster Recovery as a Service - the next gen backup and recovery

In today’s digital world, IT continuity is key to successful business operations. Companies need to be equipped with the right tools to deal with unforeseen events and ensure that these have minimal impact on the business.

They are increasingly aware of the impact of lost or compromised data, and the necessity of having a disaster recovery solution in place. As this need continues to become more prominent, we are seeing new developments being made to continuity and disaster recovery solutions.

There are two traditional ways of securing an IT environment. Firstly, it can be done by duplicating the environment and leaving it idle until a required restore or back up is needed. However, this can be a slow process and is not always reliable. The second way is through physical or online backups. This approach has historically proven to be more reliable, but is also time consuming and, if using a vendor’s disaster recovery solution, has also proven costly.

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Until recently, disaster recovery solutions have therefore been expensive, and not always reliable and timely. Cloud computing is now enabling disaster recovery services in a more economical manner and with higher success rates, delivering business continuity.

Disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) is a utilisation-based recovery service that can restore customer data, business applications and system configurations. DRaaS extends the system backups by providing a prepared environment where the backups are maintained in real time. This allows for any recovery to be done in a matter of hours instead of days or weeks, which is common with more traditional recovery approaches. As DRaaS is a virtual environment, it eliminates the need for physical hardware, making it a more cost effective solution.

There are additional benefits and features of DRaaS over traditional disaster recovery models:

  • Elasticity: DRaaS allows customers to replicate hardware, applications and data from either physical and / or virtual environments to the virtual environment
  • Security: DR-as-a-service is able to provide a solution that meets security and compliance requirements in a multi-tenant environment
  • Scalability: There are two components of scalability – management and deployment. As a cloud based solution, DRaaS is easier to scale up and down as required, and better suited to cater for a growing infrastructure
  • Speed: DR-as-a-service reduces the time needed to provision the DR solution and provides options to failover quickly, minimizing the impact to the business
  • Economical: DR-as-a-service is based on a virtual environment and removes the hardware cost. It offers pay-per-use options making this a highly cost effective solution.

Whether your business needs to switch to a partial or a full recovery plan, this is now possible with DRaaS enabled on a virtual environment. With companies increasingly reliant on IT systems, any unforeseen event could take the business down completely if system recovery is not done quickly. This makes the speed of system recovery critical to today’s business. Companies cannot no longer simply opt out of a disaster recovery plan, as it could just be a matter of time until a disaster strikes.

When customers are looking for vendor partners for hosted solutions, one of the key areas to consider should be around the service offering for business continuity. It is important to evaluate the security measures that are already in place by the vendor, taking into account aspects such as hardware failures, their response to natural calamities as well as their measures to counter local known problems such as fires or hurricanes. If and when a disaster occurs, each minute of system downtime is critical to the business, so customers need to carefully examine how quickly and costly effectively the vendor solution can fail over their environment to bring the business back online with the least impact.

The vendor commitment to DR-as-a-service needs to be documented with Service Level Agreement contracts to ensure a fast recovery time and to minimise downtime. The vendor selection based on the above factors and negotiating appropriate SLAs is extremely important.

Finally and most importantly, as much as we have talked about the importance of an appropriate Disaster recovery service for the business, we need to ensure the vendor providing our core system services will be able to deliver uninterrupted service within the defined SLAs as well.

Vivek Vahie is senior director at Navisite India.

Image source: Shutterstock/Alexander Mak

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