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DRaaS: What it is, the benefits and choosing your provider
Broadly speaking, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a cloud-based system which allows businesses and other organizations to establish alternate processing sites for their disaster recovery needs.
Like many cloud-based services DRaaS seeks to simplify the process of disaster recovery and make it easier, less costly and quicker for organizations to back up their most important data and to recover it in the event of a disaster than it would be with an on-premise system.
One of the crucial advantages of any cloud service over physical, on-premise infrastructures is quicker, easier and cheaper scalability.
When you look to expand your business, you’ll want that growth to extend to your disaster recovery options as well. With an on-premise disaster recovery system, this can be incredible difficult for numerous reasons.
For one, there’s the physical space that building, and expanding, a non-cloud-based DR system takes up. Secondly, when scaling up, purchasing the necessary equipment will come at a high price.
With DRaaS, you can continually review your needs, updating and expanding your system when necessary. The upward and outward scalability of DRaaS allow you to cover as many VM’s, databases, sites and storage locations as you need, at a fraction of the cost.
Another advantage DRaaS shares with other cloud-based systems is flexibility. DRaaS won’t lock you into one server, database, backup or network technology and you’ll be able to choose the operating systems, platforms, management systems and backup tools that work best for you.
What’s more, it will give you the freedom to choose recovery destinations as well as giving you options such as whether to restore individual files or an entire system.
You can also choose a service that allows you to use resources as and when you need them, to create a solution that works for your individual organization’s needs.
As many organizations have come to find out the hard way in recent years, in-house DR systems are vulnerable to breaches from hackers, meaning that critical, sensitive data can be at risk of being compromised.
With a cloud-based disaster recovery system from a private provider, you’ll have a more secure data infrastructure backup, with many offering encrypted data storage as standard.
With DRaaS, your organization will have access to the controls necessary to monitor and protect your critical data, helping your IT infrastructure meet vital compliance and regulatory requirements.
With up-to-date security measures and the other added benefits of a cloud-based service, DRaaS will enable your organization to show regulators, auditors and clients exactly where your data is located, who controls and has access to it and how it is backed up, within a single graphical user interface.
In-house DR systems are often comprised of a series of expensive pieces of hardware. DRaaS, on the other hand, offers the same DR capabilities, at a pay-as-you-go rate that is far below the cost of building an unwieldy on-premise system.
What’s more, the off-site nature of DRaaS can lead to significant savings by virtue of the fact that, in the event of IT downtime, which can be hugely expensive to a company for even a short outage, DRaaS will allow your organization to be up and running far quicker.
Perhaps most importantly, however, utilising an outside service will prove cost-efficient for your organization long-term by eliminating the costs of employing an IT team to run an in-house system.
One of the key considerations when switching to DRaaS will be deciding what data to migrate to the system. A business impact assessment will help you identify which processes are most critical.
This can be simply done by listing processes, the data stores they depend upon and what elements are themselves dependent upon each process. Then, you calculate the total downtime that your business could tolerate for each process based upon this breakdown.
This is a very brief description of the impact assessment process and it can of course be tailored to your organisations individual needs, but such an assessment will help you create the scope for your DRaaS stystem.
Following this, setting recovery targets will help you calculate the maximum downtime of your applications and how much data loss your company could survive in the event of a disaster.
Setting a recovery time objective (RTO) will help you determine how fast your recoveries need to be. This will generally include assessing operating system information, as well as applications and configuration data. A recovery point objective (RPO), meanwhile, will show you the maximum amount of data loss that might occur in the event of downtime or data loss.
Once you’ve defined your DRaaS requirements, the most important next step is arguably choosing the right provider for you. Researching a provider’s service level agreements (SLAs) for RTO and RPO will help in this regard, but there are other vital considerations.
For one, you’ll want to inspect their track record in these SLAs, to be sure that they really can deliver, as well as their response times, to find out how quickly you can get in touch with them in case of a crisis.
Location is another important consideration. Do they operate in a single location or across multiple sites? Will they host your data in your country or abroad? Such issues can have ramifications in terms of both security and law.
A provider’s capacity to store, receive, transmit and deliver data adequately for your needs is also important, but also, can they match this in line with your organization’s projected growth?
Of course, perhaps the most vital thing to ask of a provider is their experience with DR itself and with specific DRaaS tools. You’ll want a provider who has an intimate knowledge of the leading DRaaS tools so that they are capable of deciding on the best service for you.