What is DRaaS? Disaster Recovery as a Service Explained

Data is essential for businesses and they can’t afford to lose it. So it must be backed up and restored — by either setting up their own on-premises environment or using a third party to host their information. 

DRaaS, or Disaster Recovery as a Service, is an option that an increasing number of businesses are considering. Many are unclear on what DRaaS actually is and what it provides for your business. To put it simply, DRaaS is a third party service that replicates your data and applications on an on-premises or cloud-hosting platform that can then be recovered and restored in the event of an emergency. 

In this article, we’ll cover exactly what DRaaS is, why your business needs it and the different ways your organisation can utilise it. Let’s get started. 

What exactly is DRaaS?

Let’s start with the important stuff, shall we? Only by answering this question can you begin to speculate on how useful DRaaS could prove to your company-wide efforts.

As we touched upon above, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a third-party disaster recovery plan tailored to provide you with peace of mind, and limited downtime in the face of… you guessed it: disaster.

Typically negotiated using a service level agreement and offered on a pay-as-you-go basis, this disaster-based operating system provides professional services for even small companies with limited in-house IT capabilities. Effectively, third-party companies achieve this DR environment by replicating production processes onto a secondary, recovery infrastructure in either a public/private cloud or data centre depending on your preference. 

DRaaS is, therefore, on hand to ensure you’re able to access critical systems and mission-critical data after natural disasters, and more. While business continuity will always, ultimately, be in your hands, such a service should mean you can do away with the need for an in-house disaster recovery plan (DRP) altogether. Whether you opt to protect your entire business infrastructure or just key processes, DRaaS can prove vital for keeping you online, safeguarding your data, and ultimately freeing you for recovery so you don’t need to worry about. It’s hardly surprising, then, that this model is becoming increasingly popular right across the business landscape. 

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Do businesses really need DRaaS?

If you’re seriously considering DRaaS, it’s important to play devil’s advocate to guarantee that you make the right choice. As such, it makes sense to ask whether your business really need DRaaS. Wouldn’t an in-house, traditional DR plan be enough to see you through?  

The simple answer is no. As businesses increasingly rely on ongoing operations and efficient data handling processes, the need for more advanced recovery solutions becomes unavoidable. After all, 90% of businesses without such disaster recovery capabilities close after significant disasters. 

Perhaps the best way to judge whether DRaaS is truly necessary in a business setting is to consider both the advantages and disadvantages inherent in implementation.

Advantages

  • Rapid recovery: By agreeing on a rapid recovery time objective (RTO) before signing a service user agreement, you guarantee your business will always be backed up and running in a limited period, even if disaster strikes when you’re all out of the office. This makes for increased professionalism and, more importantly, can keep customers altogether unaware of issues as they happen.
  • Cost-saving: Set payments for this service will depend on your unique agreement, but DRaaS can save you money compared with attempting to create an in-house recovery infrastructure. Most notably, turning to an outside service saves you ongoing IT employee costs. The use of off-site storage can also lead to significant savings in software and storage needs. Given that IT downtime itself can also cost a company as much as £10,000-£1 million an hour, the ability to get back up and running sooner can also keep your profits on safe ground. 
  • Scalability: Off-site DRaaS also works wonders for business scalability and growth. This is opposed to DIY disaster recovery, which often becomes altogether inappropriate when your business needs expand. Instead, you’ll be able to continually review your DRaaS and make easy changes depending on your needs.
  • Increased security: In-house DR efforts such as backups and internet storage leave data at significant risk from outside breaches. That’s got to be bad news in an age where data protection is a more pressing priority than ever. Luckily, DRaaS also offers a more secure infrastructure backup, especially if you seek service providers who provide encrypted data storage that you can rely on.

Disadvantages

  • Dependency on a service provider: Many companies cite a dependence on a third-party provider as the main drawback where DRaaS is concerned. Given how crucial a DR plan remains to modern operations, many simply feel safer taking care of recovery point objectives (RPOs) and timelines themselves. Ultimately, you’ll be at the mercy of another company during the disaster process. If they experience issues or delays, you won’t be able to do anything, and will still feel the sting.
  • Potential migration issues: Given that DRaaS storage happens entirely independently from the rest of your business infrastructure, you also face the risk of migration problems if disaster does occur. This is especially likely in the case of a cloud-based DRaaS, but even a second infrastructure in a data centre won’t help if you have no way to access it in-house when necessary.

Is DRaaS right for my business?

The decision about whether to utilise DRaaS ultimately comes down to your business requirements. Perhaps the main thing to note here is that, as a fully scalable option, DRaaS can be tailored to any company. If the benefits already mentioned are appealing to you, then, the chances are that this is probably the right decision.

Companies with limited IT experience will find the peace of mind offered by a reliable DRaaS especially reassuring as this service provides both a technical DR plan and an IT maintenance service of sorts. While some small businesses may find this an expensive option when starting, it’s possible to overcome even that setback with a cost model suited to company needs.

The real answer here is to simply opt for a provider who’s right for your business, and the rest will follow. While the service brings undeniable benefits across the business board, a poor supplier decision is always going to do damage. As such, you need to ask yourself the following to guarantee that your DRaaS is the best possible bet for your business operations:

  • Does the service meet your RTO and RPO?
  • Is data handled sensitively?
  • Are your access speed requirements met?
  • Are applications compliant?
  • Are cost models right for your budget?

Even if your company doesn’t need a full DRaaS service, these questions can take you ever-closer to partial disaster recovery that will ensure your business operations can continue more smoothly.

The long and short of DRaaS

DRaaS is big news in business right now, especially as cloud capabilities continue to grow and expand. As such, getting your head around this service is crucial for disaster recovery that keeps on top of ever-growing business models and data storage needs. 

As mentioned, though, the potential disadvantages of a poor DRaaS decision could do more damage than you anticipate to your business efforts, and may actually be worse than a DR plan in-house.

To make sure that DRaaS works, it’s therefore always beneficial to seek consulting professionals who can work alongside you to procure the right decision. Together, you’ll be able to develop a business continuity plan you can rely on at last, and settle on a DRaaS provider that’s perfect for business peace of mind moving forward.

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Troy Platts

Troy has spent over 20 years helping organisations solve their data, storage and compute conundrums. He is a regular speaker at vendor events and spends any free time he has keeping abreast of advances in data platform technologies. He also makes a mean curry.

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