Not so long ago, a disaster recovery strategy meant backing up the servers once or twice a day and shipping the tapes off-site for safe keeping. Today, a DR strategy means designing backup and recovery plans for servers that may be on-premise or off-premise, real or virtual, co-located or in the cloud—or a combination of all of the above.
Traditional backup and recovery practices—those nightly batch backups, off-site tape storage, and time-consuming restore processes—are increasingly unworkable and inadequate. To handle the new challenges of hybrid environments, corporate IT organizations are turning to DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service). As a cloud-based service, DRaaS has a number of advantages over traditional backup strategies, namely it’s ability to handle diverse environments and backup needs, the faster speed of recovery and minimal data loss, and the professional expertise that comes with an experienced DRaaS provider.
DR Strategy: Three Key Use Cases for DRaaS
In TierPoint’s recent webinar Utilizing Azure Site Recovery in Your Disaster Recovery Plan, we explained how DRaaS can be a valuable tool for IT teams dealing with not only with their DR strategy, but also security challenges, cloud migrations, and hybrid IT management.
Hybrid IT. Providing a single backup and DR process for a mix of on-premise and cloud-based IT systems is virtually impossible without DRaaS. As noted in the webinar, “Hybrid IT and DRaaS are made for one another.” A key capability of DRaaS is that it allows administrators to configure the DRaaS settings to protect applications differently, depending on the characteristics of the application, its data and end user behaviors. That’s an important feature when organizations have multiple and diverse applications residing in a variety of environments. A blanket policy for everything just isn’t realistic.
Migration. Forrester Research’s survey, Cloud Migration Services (May 2017), revealed that more than two-thirds of organizations involved in modernizing their business application portfolio were migrating their existing applications to the cloud. DRaaS would prove to be very useful to those IT teams because of the tools available for importing and exporting of data, replicating and synching data, testing a new policy or environment, migrating a physical server to a virtual server, or converting one type of hypervisor to another.
Security. If you’ve been hit with the WannaCry ransomware virus or other malware, then you know how suddenly such an attack can occur. One minute, all systems are go, and the next, your servers are down, data is encrypted or corrupted, and users are locked out of their applications. DRaaS gives you the opportunity to rewind, like a DVR, to just before the attack and restore your systems with minimal data loss. Downtime can also be minimized because users can be moved from a production server to the DRaaS system, and then back again when the production servers are restored.
Of course, a DRaaS solution is only as good as its provider, so it’s critical to evaluate a provider’s reputation, track record, and support services. Some of the other key characteristics to look for include geographic coverage (does it offer a wide enough network to ensure immunity from widespread outages or disasters?); diversity of pricing tiers to meet different levels of affordability; testing procedures and recovery metrics; and compliance certification.
The competence of the provider and the types of services it can offer are of particularly critical importance. DRaaS requires a strong knowledge base, so you’ll want a provider with expertise and experience. There are thousands of DRaaS providers in the market, not all of them are credible.
That knowledge is especially critical considering the complexity of systems today and how frequently they’re under attack from all sorts of threats: cybercrimes, storms, fires and floods, equipment and power failures, internet outages and even human error. Protecting data and ensuring uptime isn’t a task that can be handled by a single IT person with a set of backup tapes anymore, but requires an experienced DR service provider or consultant and a feature-rich, robust DRaaS solution.
TierPoint Product Manager Dale Levesque is responsible for the ongoing development of TierPoint's cloud and managed services portfolio, primarily storage, backup, and DRaaS. His experience spans a number of strategic technology roles, including the deployment of international fixed broadband wireless infrastructure and management of global software development teams in the enterprise virtualization space.