Exploring smart DR: How DRaaS can help with business resiliency

 In Solutions

Companies that depend on their computer systems to store their most vital and irreplaceable business records face the looming possibility that they could suffer a catastrophic data loss.

Half of all data losses result from user error. Of the organizations that experience a major data loss, 43% never reopen, 51% close in less than two years, and only 6% are able to survive long term. Companies never recover financially if they encounter a computer outage that lasts longer than 10 days.

No matter how losses occur, businesses can limit the damage and minimize downtime if they plan ahead. Because 80% of global IT organizations experienced at least one major outage or system failure in the past several years, many are now compelled to put a proper disaster recovery (DR) plan in place.

This post will introduce you to disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), the new industry standard for smart DR, and help you determine whether it’s the right recovery solution for your business.

What is DRaaS?

DRaaS solutions provide a new alternative to backup and recovery that can save your company time, money, and headaches. They’re available via a monthly subscription and include preconfigured hardware, software, maintenance, and support to match your DR requirements. In mid-2018, the DRaaS market was estimated at $2.4 billion. Gartner expects it to reach $3.7 billion by 2021.

Businesses are flocking to DRaaS because it’s more extensive than other disaster recovery services like Backup as a Service (BaaS) and Recovery as a Service (RaaS). BaaS is designed to protect from events like accidental deletions and hardware failures; here, the service provider will perform the data recovery after the client has reassembled the infrastructure following a failure. RaaS can restore the data and recover applications, reducing the number of days that a customer is down, but because it does not use real-time replication of data, there may be some data loss.

DRaaS eliminates these issues and can rapidly recover data in the event of a disaster, quickly restore normal operations, and address mobility and portability challenges. DRaaS consumers may also eliminate backup using disks and tapes as well as off-site storage for mission critical data, realize significant savings in hardware and software licensing fees, decrease consumption of operational resources, and improve performance, flexibility, and reliability.

3 types of DRaaS: Understanding the differences

DRaaS can be categorized into the following three models based on the level of security and service that your organization requires:

1) Self-service DRaaS

In the self-service DRaaS model, your business is responsible for executing all facets of the recovery process. This includes developing a recovery plan, managing virtual machine (VM) replication, carrying out the recovery procedures, performing updates, and much more.

While it requires the smallest investment and offers the greatest control, the trade-off is the time and resources required to manage everything. Because DRaaS vendors like Microsoft, TierPoint, iLand, and Recovery Point only provide you with tools to perform the necessary DR tasks, self-service DRaaS is most appropriate for organizations with internal DR expertise and available IT bandwidth.

Self-service DRaaS is a lot like on-premises DR solutions, except that your IT team won’t be burdened with administering the underlying infrastructure. Here, you can take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, such as lower costs and improved scalability, agility, and availability. But its biggest strength is the amount of flexibility and customization that it offers.

While it may not deliver the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO), self-service DRaaS is the least likely model to result in vendor lock-in, and the most capable of supporting integrations with your existing tooling and other software.

2) Assisted DRaaS

With assisted DRaaS, you own all aspects of your DR plan, including implementation, testing, and management. This means you’ll need to develop the runbook and handle the recovery process for any planned exercises, and actual disaster declarations.

While the service provider is primarily responsible for managing the recovery infrastructure and data replication, it serves as your trusted advisor and can step in to help with failover and failback activities if your own IT team is not available.

Because the assisted DRaaS model does not offer a recovery service-level agreement (SLA), it is less expensive than managed DRaaS and is well suited for businesses that have the necessary IT resources but want some extra guidance and support. Assisted recovery is available from the following DRaaS providers: iLand, Sungard Availability Services, InterVision/Bluelock, and Recovery Point.

Assisted DRaaS provides a quick, cost-effective path to disaster recovery because it requires less time, knowledge, and skills to manage than the self-service DRaaS alternative. While it may be simpler to deploy, it offers less control, is not as flexible, and has a higher potential for vendor lock-in than the self-service model; it is also not as easy to use as managed DRaaS.

3) Managed DRaaS

The managed DRaaS model is best suited for enterprises with IT teams that are heavily involved in the strategic operations of their business. Because it demands a higher level of investment compared to other DRaaS options, fully managed DRaaS delivers superior support and assurance.

The vendor is solely responsible for all elements of the service offering, including the planning, testing, and management of your recovery strategy. You’ll receive a recovery SLA that meets your unique business needs, and in the event of a disaster, the service provider will manage the entire recovery process. Managed DRaaS providers include IBM, CloudHPT, Expedient, Sungard Availability Services, Recovery Point, InterVision/Bluelock, and TierPoint.

Fully managed DRaaS is the most popular DRaaS experience because it offers low, predictable costs, is the simplest of the three models to use, and is the fastest option for implementing DR.

On the other hand, it offers the fewest customization options, may not integrate well with other software or tooling that your business uses, can encourage shadow IT, and may violate company privacy policies or compliance requirements if the DRaaS provider gains access to the wrong data.

Choosing the right DRaaS offering

While industry analysts like Gartner, Forrester, and IDC have declared DRaaS a mainstream offering, its status has not made it any easier for customers to choose which solution is best for their business – especially since there are hundreds of DRaaS vendors in the market, all with differing approaches and capabilities.

When examining the different DRaaS solutions, you’ll want to evaluate each provider’s current offering for its self-service options; heterogeneous technology infrastructure support; regional, networking, and restoration capabilities; security services; ownership of recovery tasks; change management; support models; user experience, and more.

You should also analyze the vendors’ strategies to uncover their business model, value proposition, pricing options, contract terms, and road map.  Lastly, you’ll want to research each DRaaS provider’s market presence to explore its understanding of the market, current revenue, ability to innovate, employee strengths, client feedback, ecosystem partnerships, and growth potential.

Contact your SHI account executive to learn more about how SHI’s Customer Innovation Center (CIC) can help evaluate and streamline your disaster recovery process, including identifying the appropriate DRaaS solution for your business and ensuring it aligns with your company’s objectives.

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