DRaaS (disaster-recovery-as-a-service) in the cloud continues to gain traction among organizations as an idea whose time has come. Adopting this technique, organizations can recover their data in the cloud should a disaster of any magnitude occurs.
In this situation, no matter where an organization’s data resides – on-premises, in the cloud, or both – it can recover. However, when it comes to selecting a DRaaS provider, read the fine print as the recovery options that a DRaaS provider offers can take many forms. An organization must verify that the DRaaS vendor it selects delivers the type of recovery experience that it expects.
DRaaS: Prepare for a Pleasant Surprise
Organizations looking at DRaaS for the first time, or the first time in a while, may find themselves pleasantly surprised. Thanks to backup software tightly integrated with cloud offerings, organizations may discover they can affordably obtain a viable DRaaS solution that meets their recovery requirements. These DRaaS offerings include everything needed to get started:
- Backup software (cloud-based or on-premises)
- Backup appliance (physical or virtual)
- Replication capabilities (to copy data to the cloud)
- Storage capacity in the cloud
When deploying these cloud DRaaS solutions, organizations can:
- Backup their environment
- Copy (replicate) their data to the cloud
- Recover in the cloud
Five Ways to Define “Recover in the Cloud”
It’s that last item in the list which organizations need to give special attention to and thoroughly understand. DRaaS providers take a great deal of liberty in defining the phrase “recover in the cloud”. While they all, by definition, support recoveries in the cloud, they may deliver it in very different ways. Here are at least five ways DRaaS providers support recovery in the cloud:
- Recover data to a physical appliance in the provider’s cloud and send the appliance back to the organization to complete the recovery. The recovery of the data occurs in the cloud. However, the recovery of the application occurs on-premises and only after the vendor ships an appliance with the data back to you. Using this cloud recovery method, an organization may need to wait 24 – 48 hours or longer to recover an application.
- Retrieve and recover data from the cloud via an Internet or WAN connection to the cloud provider’s data center. Here again, companies can only recover and retrieve data that resides in the cloud. They cannot recover, run and access applications or data at the cloud provider’s site. The time required to retrieve, recover, and access the data will vary depending on the amount of data to recover and the available bandwidth. The time to recovery will also hinge on having a location to which to recover the data and applications. If the disaster results in a destroyed physical site or loss of physical access, the recovery may take time.
- Data is replicated to and recovered using another appliance you own in the provider’s cloud. In this scenario, the “cloud” is an appliance the company purchased and hosts in the backup provider’s data center. Data recovery in the cloud occurs immediately since the company owns the appliance and can access it. However, application recovery may take some time as the company must either copy data back on-premises or ship the appliance to the location where it wants the recovery to occur.
- Self-service recovery in the cloud. This is the first definition of cloud recovery that better aligns with corporate expectations. In this situation, a recovery in the cloud means the company can recover applications, data or both in the provider’s cloud and host them there for some time. While hosted there, companies can resume production activities until they are ready to recover on-premises.
- Managed recovery in the cloud. This resembles a self-service recovery. The primary difference is that the provider recovers your company’s applications and data on the company’s behalf in its cloud. Once recovered, the company can resume production processing at some level until it is ready to recover on-premises.
Recovery is Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Companies for the first time can rightfully look to DRaaS providers for viable disaster recovery solutions. That said, DRaaS providers differ, sometimes dramatically, in how they perform recoveries in the cloud. Some define recovery in the cloud very broadly, to include restoring and running applications and data in their cloud. Others define it more narrowly, to only include recovering data to an appliance that resides in their cloud that they then ship to you.
Companies must investigate and determine how DRaaS providers support recovery in the cloud prior to selecting any DRaaS provider. Gaining access to backup software and cloud storage as part of a DRaaS offering is great. However, recovery is where the rubber meets the road.
It behooves companies to start their evaluation of any DRaaS provider by first quantifying and understanding each provider’s recovery options. Only after a company determines that the recovery options a DRaaS provider offers matches their recovery requirements does it merit exploring all the other features of their offering.