Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is a cloud computing and backup service model that uses cloud resources to protect applications and data from disruption caused by disaster. It gives an organization a total system backup that allows for business continuity in the event of system failure.
In the case of a natural disaster, you’ll need a way to keep critical applications and services online during a power outage and/or loss of Internet connectivity. You’ll need a way for staff to communicate if normal phone lines, cell service and networks are down. And you’ll need a way to allow your knowledge employees to continue to work if their regular offices are damaged or destroyed. And while all this is taking place, you’ll need to make sure that you continue to meet your security and compliance obligations.
Depending on your industry, you might have other special needs. For example, healthcare facilities will need ways to get patients to safety. Educational institutions will need to provide a way for instructors to interact with students. Manufacturers may need access to alternate factory or warehouse locations, retailers might need different methods for getting goods to their stores, and so on. A complete disaster recovery plan will take all of these needs into account.
Types of Disaster Recovery Solutions
In order to recover from a disaster, you’re going to need a failover site, a place where you can store your backups and run your production workloads in the event that your primary data center goes offline. Organizations have several different options when it comes to selecting a DR site, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. In general, it involves finding a balance between cost and the amount of control that the organization has over the process. The right option for you will depend on the size of your company, the skills you have in-house, the complexity of your environment, your security and compliance needs, and a variety of other factors.
In-house Operating your own DR data center is generally the most expensive of the failover site options, but in some cases it makes sense for very large organizations with skilled staff. For example, sometimes global enterprises find themselves with extra data center space following a merger, acquisition or data center consolidation project. In some cases, it might be the most cost effective to repurpose this space for use as a disaster recovery site.
The big benefit of this approach is that the organization has complete control over the backup and recovery process. But the biggest weakness is also that the organization has complete control over the backup and recovery process. Your internal staff may not have the specialized skills that DR vendors have, and that may be part of the reason why DR experts say that in-house DR is the most likely to fail in the event of an actual emergency.
Colocation A slightly less expensive option to managing your own DR site is using a colocation facility as your DR site. With traditional colocation, you’ll have access to space, power, cooling and network connectivity in a shared data center facility. The vendor will provide physical security for the space, but it will be up to you to purchase, deploy and configure the hardware and data recovery softwarethat will run in the facility.
This option might reduce expenses and eliminate some of the burdens associated with managing your DR site in-house, but it still is going to require a lot of time, effort and skill — not to mention travel for staff to go to the physical location. It does keep most of the control in the customer’s hands however, which might be necessary for some organizations with strict compliance requirements.
Managed Colocation Also sometimes referred to as “hosting” or “managed hosting,” managed colocation unloads more of the burden for disaster recovery onto a managed services provider. In addition to the physical data center space and utilities, managed colocation providers also supply and deploy the IT infrastructure, as well as monitoring and maintenance software that will allow the customer to access the site remotely. Some vendors may also offer data recovery software, testing or disaster recovery services.
This approach gives more of the burden for disaster preparedness to the vendor, but it also takes some control out of the hands of the customer. Prices and available services may vary widely, so organizations will need to do a total cost of ownership (TCO) or return on investment (ROI) analysis to determine if this is the most cost-effective option for them
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) In recent years, several managed services providers (MSPs) and cloud computing vendors have begun offering DRaaS solutions. These solutions usually involve backing up and failing over to a cloud computing environment. This option puts nearly all of the control for handling backup and DR into the hands of the vendor. For small organizations that don’t have sizable IT staffs, DRaaS might be the only feasible and affordable option for disaster recovery.
However, DRaaS might not meet all the compliance requirements faced by large organizations in certain industries. They generally also do not offer as much range for customization as the other DR site options.