Understanding the difference between DRaaS and Backup for your business

According to a report by one of the big four auditors, KPMG, more than 40 per cent of companies that suffer a major business disruption are unable to recover from the long-term impact of the failure and go out of business within two years.

To avoid this fate, organisations must have a solid disaster recovery strategy in place.

Cloud-based disaster recovery and backup solutions are giving companies of all sizes access to business continuity capabilities that were once only available to enterprises with large IT footprints.

However, many teams are confused about the difference between Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) and Backup. As a result, companies are settling for inadequate protection or spending more money than necessary on solutions that they do not essentially need.

The bank account analogy

I’ve found it’s helpful to use an analogy to explain the difference. Let’s pretend your IT systems are actually a bank account. Now, if you find yourself with a zero balance in your bank account you’re in a dark place. However, let’s pretend you didn’t know it and wrote one more cheque to, let’s say, the paper boy (it’s the 90’s in this analogy so I can say paper boy).

The backup system is like having £1000 under your mattress. This is what happens:

  • The cheque bounces
  • You incur a £30 fee
  • The paper boy is annoyed
  • You hand him some cash next time he delivers the paper and he recovers

So, you are safe. You keep getting your ever-critical morning paper but it hurt a bit and took a few days to resolve.

If this were an IT system, maybe you’d have to find/buy new hardware, set it up, find the backup and bring the systems up from the backup copy. All this would take a few days, at a minimum, and all the while you’d lose some revenue due to systems being down and a bunch of people would be pretty peeved. But, at the end of the day, you wouldn’t lose all your data. It was backed up.

A Disaster Recovery system on the other hand is like an overdraft account. This is what happens:

  • The cheque clears and the paper boy is none the wiser
  • Your bank extends a “loan” to you in the form of an overdraft account, for which you may pay a bit of interest
  • You can rectify the situation with funds from elsewhere at your earliest convenience

So, you are also safe and there was no discontinuity of service. It may have cost a bit, but not a lot. By and large, no one really knew anything went wrong.

If this were an IT system, your failover would happen in seconds or minutes to a cloud-based target environment where the workloads would hum along as though nothing happened. Until you were ready to fail-back you would pay a relatively small fee for the resources you used. No one would be angry about lost revenue or broken systems.

Making the right choice for your business

Now that the difference between the two is clear, let’s come back to the present day. Which solution do you go with to protect your business? For workloads where downtime is deadly, DRaaS is the way to go. For workloads where you’d hate to lose the data, but it isn’t critical stuff (like development systems), backup may be sufficient. For many operational and regulatory compliance reasons, customers may do both.

Increasingly we are finding that many of our customers are looking at a blended solution. The nice thing is that you can easily configure and deploy both, while making use of an exceptional global cloud infrastructure that provides access to off-site alternatives at a fraction of the cost of building another data centre. Additionally, with bonuses like free bandwidth, no setup fees, encrypted storage and included technical support, this is a solution that you can easily sell to your business.

Any extended loss of productivity can lead to a reduced cash flow through late invoicing, lost orders and increased costs as staff work extra hours to recover from the downtime, missed delivery dates and so on. After all, to go back to my analogy, no one wants to deal with an irate paper boy – or even worse - an irate executive.

Lilac Schoenbeck, VP, Product Marketing & Product Management at iland Cloud Infrastructure

Image source: Shutterstock/Maksim Kabakou