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DRaaS: why disaster recovery is no longer the preserve of the rich

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Today every company I meet is an IT company. That's not to say that technology is what they sell, make or provide for their customers - they may be a legal firm, a widget manufacturer or even a record company, but technology has become the number one function of every business. Without it, most companies couldn't operate.

It's no surprise then that as technology has become increasingly critical in supporting business operations that maintaining consistent delivery of that technology has also increased. But ensuring the business is able to operate in the event of a disaster has always been a costly affair and usually the preserve of large enterprises with large budgets. For most small and medium sized companies, disaster recovery has typically involved simply backing up data on a regular basis, rather than complex off-site replication of server environments.

Of course, backing up data didn't make any provision for how companies would actually restore data from the remote site if networks were down: let alone define how to provide access to apps and servers.  

Cloud changed all that. It enabled companies to rethink their approach to disaster recovery. Cloud infrastructures reduced the need to build replicated environments.  Companies wanting to ensure that data was protected and that servers, networks and infrastructure were able to return to operation (RTO) in an acceptable time can now replicate the environment in the cloud. All hail the rise of Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).

DRaaS provides companies with the ability to take a simplified approach to ensuring normal service in the face of a disaster. It focuses on delivering the infrastructure, not just the data so companies are assured of RTOs in line with their business needs. DRaaS streamlines the cost model letting companies simply pay on a utility basis for what they need rather than what they might need.

It also simplifies testing of the replicated environment. In the past companies would need to shut the business down to test that the back up environment worked effectively. DRaaS enables testing to happen in real time as regularly as required since it has no impact on business operations.

While cloud has brought simplification, companies must undertake the same due diligence that it would apply when buying a physical replicated service. Here are my top four considerations before you move to DRaaS:

  1. Compliance: make sure your provider is able to demonstrate its compliance. Check its credentials thoroughly and ensure that they are proactive in meeting industry standards.
  2. Sovereignty: always determine where your data is held. Disaster recovery has its roots in corporate governance whether it's in the cloud or not. You have an obligation to protect that data wherever it is.
  3. Security: review the provider's security credentials. Do they conform to industry standards? Even if you keep a copy of the data, will they be able to provider servers and application support when needed? Remember your ability to recover from a disaster will only be as good as they are secure.
  4. Regular testing: determine and agree in advance the regularity of testing. You need to be assured that the environment works and responds in the way you'll need it to.

 

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