Disaster Recovery as a Service: Data Protection in the Cloud

 In Business Continuity Planning, Disaster Recovery, Managed Service Providers

DRaaS = Data Protection

Disaster Recovery a a Service (DRaaS) plays a key role in data security, network availability and recoverability in cloud-based IT infrastructures.

The Cost of Disaster Recovery

Data security is major operational concern for businesses of all sizes, including small to midsize enterprises (SMEs).Before the advent of cloud computing, investing in a disaster recovery solution was often cost prohibitive.  Protocol demanded a  second physical failover location – complete set of backup servers in a second location to ensure that data would be available should primary infrastructure fail. However, the expense of establishing and maintaining two sets of infrastructure often prevented businesses with limited budgets from fully implementing a disaster recovery plan.

By nature, cloud computing removes the obstacles that inhibit the implementation of a disaster recovery and business continuity plan. Creating backup copies in a cloud-based DRaaS tool allow businesses to maintain a disaster recovery plan without breaking the bank. In an economic climate where organisations of all sizes are looking for ways to reduce expenses, the lower cost of DRaaS is both feasible and appealing.

Benefits of DRaaS

According to a cloud computing survey by Frost & Sullivan, 84% of businesses migrate to the cloud with the goal to increase their business continuity capability. All businesses – regardless of size – share the concern about the impacts of downtime on their capacity to do business.

For those businesses who grew accustomed to manual tape backups, the disaster recovery process drained human resources and placed heavy demands on the IT team. With multiple stakeholders and reams of data requiring daily backup, the burden of business continuity planning could be a full-time job. For those businesses with limited budgets, the capacity to support manual-intensive backups was neither feasible or realistic.

Cloud-based disaster recovery, on the other hand, is far less labour intensive. Data restoration occurs immediately. Business can return to normal with limited interference, no obvious impact on end-users or damage to reputation. Plus, the infrastructure is managed by a 3rd party – with no maintenance or set-up knowledge required by the business.

DRaaS: Opportunities for Growthcloud based disaster recovery

A cloud-based disaster recovery resource removes capital costs and the burden of designing, deploying and managing the disaster recovery site.

Service providers build and maintain the physical infrastructure that manages the cloud offering. They build, scale and share those resources across multiple businesses – driving down overall costs and making DRaaS accessible for all end users.

This creates an opportunity for many businesses to deploy a DRaaS solution, especially when cost or resources are a concern.

Ensuring Consistent DRaaS Experience

The Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) market is saturated – and often confusing.

Most cloud providers offer a DRaaS solution. These solutions can add a management layer to an already complicated IT infrastructure.  When users don’t understand how their DRaaS solution meets their business continuity needs, they can’t be sure it they’ll recover data if something goes wrong.

A good DRaaS solution supports a comprehensive availability strategy. It provides consistent user experience and reduces overall data protection costs. However, the range of available DRaaS solutions, along with the complexity of implementation, may deter some businesses from deciding on a solution.  Researching an IT infrastructure solution requires time and resources many businesses can’t afford to spare. From an operational perspective, planning for business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) is labour and time intensive.

Alternatively, failing to plan for disaster recovery dramatically increases the time to recover from disaster.

The problem: not all DRaaS solutions are created equal. This can make DRaaS selection complicated.

Some services are only available to back-up cloud-based storage.  Others can back-up physical servers and cloud-based servers too. Yet others backup data colocation for hybrid cloud needs. Some offer an option for an on-site backup appliance. All solutions vary in initial setup, testing, and ongoing administration & monitoring.

If a business is moving to the cloud, or looking for a lower-cost disaster recovery solution, there are two options:

  1. Invest the time into finding the DRaaS solution that meets your BC/DR needs.
  2. Find a partner who can advise you on the best DRaaS solutions based on your needs.

Managed Service Providers, DRaaS and Shared Responsibility

Businesses frequently chose to work with a partner or Managed Service Provider to fulfil their cloud-based backup and disaster recovery needs. A partner removes the burden of managing IT operations, and offers a depth of knowledge and expertise to the business environment.

Customers who chose to work with an MSP on their DRaaS solution can expect to achieve greater data security, support in migration from their current environment, and backup and recovery support from an expert third party.

Keep in mind that when entering into an agreement with an MSP, be prepared to ask about shared responsibility. A standard cloud computing contract will include hosting and virtualization of services. However, the MSP isn’t responsible for data restoration. The customer is responsible for the backup and restoration of data. Customers must inquire about service level agreements and understand what is protected and what is excluded.

As a rule of thumb, an MSP is responsible for compute power, data storage, networking and databases. The customer is responsibility for data availability, and disaster recovery for application and platforms. An MSP can also cover this – if and when the customer asks for additional coverage of shared responsibility. In many instances, customers don’t fully implement their portion of shared responsibility – leaving data is totally unprotected.

Ensuring appropriate backup and recovery across the IT environment is a challenge. An MSP can help to understand backup needs, meet disaster recovery requirements and manage shared responsibility.

The Cloud for Disaster Recovery

DRaaS is growing in popularity. However, not all DRaaS solutions are created equal. Some solutions are one-stop DR solutions, while others are complex and multi-faceted. When selecting a DRaaS solution, ensure that all the criteria in your BC/DR plan are met. Weigh your options carefully, and opt for a security oriented, easy-to-access cloud-based disaster recovery solution.

DRaaS is a great solution to increase data availability. Especially if your company could not invest in offsite infrastructure or does not have the expertise to manage a disaster recovery and back-up plan. DRaaS is a cost-effective, user-friendly option to consider.

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