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What Is Disaster Recovery as a Service?

Data centers are generally secure, but floods, fires, and physical intruders are possibilities that could destroy a network environment. Every organization—including data centers—needs a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity in the event of an unforeseen downtime incident.

What Is Disaster Recovery?

Traditionally, organizations would create backups on their network or move backups to the cloud. Backups aren’t the only component in disaster recovery, but they are a main remediation tool after a data breach or physical damage from an incident. While on-site backups are useful, natural disasters or physical theft render them ineffective if the backup storage system is located on premises.

Cloud backups were introduced as a way to store data during disaster recovery exercises, but data backups don’t address any infrastructure. Backups are beneficial for data protection and recovery, but they do not address loss in infrastructure, productivity, and downed internet connections. A disaster recovery plan involves more than backups. It covers the steps toward containment and eradication of a compromise, investigations into infrastructure interruptions after an incident, failover procedures, and notifications for everyone involved in executing the disaster recovery plan.

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is meant to alleviate the overhead and infrastructure costs of a traditional disaster recovery plan. Instead of hosting expensive hardware and software on premises, businesses can move their failover infrastructure to the cloud. Because it runs in the cloud, the disaster recovery plan executes as a cloud service, which gives DRaaS its name.

What Is Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)?

Housing internal disaster recovery infrastructure is expensive and requires staff to support it. Disaster recovery as a service (DSaaS) houses infrastructure in the cloud. It can facilitate a smoother transition from internal disaster recovery workflows to cloud-based storage and failover. Instead of hosting failover infrastructure, the data center can host it on a third-party cloud hosting service. In the event of a disaster, administrators can switch over to cloud resources to continue business productivity until local downtime issues are resolved.

Cloud computing technology is widely used in DRaaS using infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and virtualization. Using cloud computing lowers costs and offers scalability as the business grows and needs more virtual resources. While backup as a service (BaaS) infrastructure is included in DRaaS, it’s only one component and not a full DRaaS solution.

With DRaaS, large organizations and data centers have a fast way to offer failover for their customers. Downtime can cost millions of dollars per hour for large enterprises, so DRaaS could help data centers avoid costly litigation and loss of customer trust. Some customers require DRaaS before doing business with a data center.

How Much Does Disaster Recovery as a Service Cost?

DRaaS can cost up to six figures a year or a few thousand dollars a month. Because of the high cost, it’s usually reserved for large organizations. The cost depends on the services and infrastructure deployed as failover. As more infrastructure and servers are added, costs increase. Backups likely become larger and larger as the business grows, so storage costs for DRaaS also increase.

Two factors go into determining DRaaS resources: recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO).

RTO is the length of time a business can survive before downtime affects normal business operations and productivity. RPO is the maximum amount of data that can be lost before it affects business operations and continuity. The point in time reflects the most recent available data after transfer of backups to restore data. Some businesses can afford to lose an hour, while some can lose a day before it negatively impacts business operations.

You might think that businesses can’t afford to lose any time and data, most can hobble through workflows for some time. Whether it’s a loss of power or a loss of internet connectivity, most businesses can work with manual resources for at least an hour before downtime affects operations. A loss of data is often a more significant event, so businesses should always assess the amount of data stored every hour to determine frequency of backups that can then be used in disaster recovery.

DRaaS Providers

Most major cloud providers offer DRaaS solutions. Using the same provider that you use for daily operations in the cloud may be easier. However, using only one provider leaves a single point of failure, so some enterprises have multiple DRaaS providers. 

A few providers that offer DRaaS:

A few open source free DRaaS solutions are available for smaller businesses on a budget. Free solutions often do not have the enterprise flexibility and features necessary to support a large environment, but they are a good start for a small business.

A few open source DRaaS solutions include:

  • Feeam
  • Bacula
  • Arcserve
  • AMANDA

Benefits and Drawbacks of DRaaS

As with all technology, DRaaS has benefits and drawbacks. The biggest benefit for businesses is reduced downtime. Most businesses need time to switch to the failover resource, but it’s much more minimal compared to having no disaster recovery service available. Most reputable cloud services have scalable DRaaS, so growing businesses don’t need to manually expand resources to account for more data and infrastructure.

Note that every provider has its own tools and procedures. Once you buy into a single provider, it’s difficult to untangle its integration, so research carefully before you make a choice. Every DRaaS solution requires extensive planning and disaster recovery plan exercises to test and ensure infrastructure and staff are ready for the worst.

When you execute a disaster recovery plan, some data and services must be migrated after the environment switches to failover. The speed at which data transfers depends on your own internet connection and the bandwidth available from the provider. Consider this drawback when determining the time it will take to completely switch over to the failover DRaaS solution.

Discover how Pure Cloud Block Store mitigates the typical drawbacks of DRaaS

Conclusion

Having a disaster recovery plan is critical for unforeseen events that cause downtime. Small and large businesses need a disaster recovery plan, while data centers and large organizations need solutions to support their advanced technology and customer support. DRaaS is one way to deploy scalable, affordable, and effective failover to reduce downtime and improve business continuity.

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