What is Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)? Pros, Cons and Tips

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    Data has never been more important to businesses — they can’t afford to lose it. Given that in 2020 26% of companies experienced a data breach of some kind, it’s vital that data is always backed up and can be restored when necessary. 

    Unfortunately, it’s not always straightforward. Businesses need to set up an on-premises environment or use a third party to host their information if recovery is ever going to be possible.

    DRaaS, or Disaster Recovery as a Service, is an option many are turning to. However, not everyone understands what DRaaS is, how it works and what it can provide to businesses.

    In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of disaster recovery, how your organisation can utilise this approach and if it’s right for you. Let’s get started.

    What exactly is DRaaS?

    Before we delve into the important stuff, you need a comprehensive Disaster Recovery as a Service definition. It might seem a complicated concept for some, so let’s break it down in simple terms.

    Disaster Recovery as a Service is a third-party service model that replicates data and applications on an on-premises or cloud-hosting platform that can then be recovered and restored following an emergency. This takes the form of a disaster recovery plan tailored to provide you with peace of mind and limited downtime in the face of… you guessed it: a disaster.

    How does DRaaS work?

    Typically negotiated using a service level agreement and offered on a pay-as-you-go basis, disaster-based operating systems provide professional services for companies of all sizes, including small businesses with limited in-house IT capabilities. Third-party companies achieve this disaster recovery (DR) environment by replicating production processes on a secondary recovery infrastructure in either a public/private cloud or data centre.

    DRaaS ensures you can access critical systems and mission-critical data after a natural disaster. While business continuity will always be in your hands, this service means you can do away with in-house disaster recovery plans (DRP) altogether.

    Whether you opt to protect your entire business infrastructure or just key processes, DRaaS can prove vital in: 

    • Keeping you online
    • Safeguarding your data 

    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. Ask yourself whether your business needs DRaaS. Wouldn’t an in-house, traditional DR solution be enough to see you through?

    The simple answer is no. As businesses continue to rely on efficient data handling, the need for advanced recovery solutions has become apparent. It’s worth bearing in mind that 58% of small businesses are not prepared for data loss, and 60% that lose their data will shut down within six months.

    However, as with almost any choice your business makes, the best way to judge whether you really need DRaaS is to consider the pros and cons of its implementation.

    However, as with almost any choice your business makes, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of disaster recovery before you can come to a decision around its implementation. Let’s take a look at these in detail. 

    The pros of DRaaS

    The benefits of implementing DRaaS for businesses are both numerous and wide-ranging, but the most significant of these include:

    • 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 when disaster strikes. This increases professionalism and helps keep customers unaware of issues as they happen.
    • Cost-effective: Set payments for this service will depend on your unique agreement, but DRaaS solutions 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. 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 safeguard your profits.
    • Scalability: Off-site DRaaS also works wonders for business scalability and growth compared to DIY disaster recovery, which often becomes unfeasible when your business expands. Instead, you’ll be able to continually review your DRaaS and make changes depending on your needs.
    • Increased security: In-house DR can leave data at significant risk from outside breaches, which is bad news in an age where data protection is increasingly important. Fortunately, DRaaS also offers a more secure infrastructure backup, especially if you seek service providers who provide encrypted data storage that you can rely on.

    The cons of DRaas

    Despite the various benefits of DRaaS implementation, there are also some drawbacks that you should be aware of. These include:

    • 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 feel safer taking care of recovery point objectives (RPOs) and timelines themselves.
    • 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 a 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.

    BaaS vs DRaaS

    Before making a decision on DRaaS, it’s also worth considering alternatives. Chief among these is Backup as a Service (BaaS), a method of off-site data storage in which a service vendor backs up files and folders within a hard drive to a secure cloud-based data repository.

    With BaaS, you can get your data back and restart your applications, but only after procuring and configuring new servers. In short, recovery will be hard work with IT staff occupied for weeks.

    DRaaS is a significant step up. It can help restore servers, applications, and data within hours, sometimes just minutes. That means your business will be better able to meet recovery objectives and be up and running before most stakeholders realise the extent of the issue, or that one even occurred.

    Is DRaaS right for my business?

    Even with the pros and cons of disaster recovery, coupled with the alternatives outlined above, the decision to implement DRaaS comes down to your business requirements. It’s crucial to remember 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 the right solution.

    Companies with limited IT experience can 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. While some small businesses may find this an expensive option, it’s possible to overcome even that setback with a cost model suited to your needs.

    Choosing the right provider for your business is essential to getting the outcomes you want. While the service offered might bring benefits, a poor supplier decision will cause problems. As such, you need to ask yourself the following to guarantee that your DRaaS is the best possible bet for your business:

    • Does the service meet your recovery time objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (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, particularly within the context of cloud migration and the expansion of both cloud services and their capabilities. As such, getting your head around this service is crucial for confronting the future of disaster recovery.

    However, you need to be aware that the potential disadvantages of a poor DRaaS decision could damage your business. You may be worse than you would with an in-house DR plan in these instances.

    To make sure that DRaaS works, you should seek out consulting professionals who can work with you and guide your decision-making process. Together, you’ll be able to develop a business continuity plan you can rely on at last, and settle on a DRaaS provider that gives you peace of mind and security moving forward. Get in touch with Nexstor to start that journey today.

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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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