Data is the lifeblood of modern businesses, which means any unplanned IT downtime can negatively impact productivity, sales, customer experiences (CX), and profitability. That’s why it’s imperative that organizations find a reliable way to recover data, minimize data loss and maintain business continuity when natural disasters, equipment failures, power outages, or cyberattacks strike and knock IT resources off-line.

Historically, managing and synchronizing company-wide data backups in continual preparation for the rapid recovery of lost data has been costly and complex. Fortunately, cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions are coming onto the scene to simplify matters and accelerate data recovery times. Businesses should consider using cloud-based DRaaS offerings with WAN-optimized replication that doesn’t impact production workloads and avoids unnecessary network and storage costs with global data deduplication.

DRaaS for Recovery-Time SLAs

DRaaS solutions enable the replication of backup data to a third-party service provider or public cloud infrastructure while providing the orchestration and resources necessary for rapid recovery in the event of a disaster. DRaaS cloud providers can typically recover your data and applications with low recovery-time and recovery-point objectives (RTOs/RPOs) but without the large capital investment of a second data center infrastructure with networking, storage, and compute resources dedicated solely to DR. DRaaS providers are also generally able to offer service-level-agreements (SLAs) that guarantee recovery times of critical IT resources.

SLAs are generally not available with traditional cloud services you might use for data storage and backup, which support multiple customers on shared infrastructure. Regaining access to your data with those services could take longer than expected if you must compete for network bandwidth and server resources with other customers. When using a DRaaS purpose-built cloud provider, by contrast, your business can be back online in as little as a few minutes.

Is DRaaS Really Just Data Backup?

Data backup is just one component of DRaaS recovery strategy. There are backup-as-a-service (BaaS) offerings that allow you to store and synchronize backup copies of data online. These services help ensure that data lost or ransomed from a primary site remains intact elsewhere and is accessible when needed. However, they don’t help with restoring full operations following a disaster. DRaaS, by contrast, moves your full IT stack—infrastructure, applications, data, computer processing, networking—to the cloud. When disaster strikes, your company quickly fails over to the fully mirrored infrastructure to continue operating as normal.

Advantages: How Cloud DR Works

Your IT team uses a provider-supplied, cloud backup and management interface to select virtual machines (VMs) and physical servers in your IT infrastructure that it wants to back up. DRaaS regularly takes snapshots of the selected servers at your IT location(s) in the background, ready to be recovered in the event of a site failure.

In a cloud disaster model, you’ll likely pay for storing snapshots and your applications; you’ll also pay for data synchronization between the primary and cloud DR sites. Usage fees usually apply only when servers are accessed—during an outage when VMs need to be turned online during failover.

Again, the as-a-service model relieves you from having to own all the requisite equipment to build a fully replicated IT stack that’s rarely used. The DRaaS provider plans and automates all the procedures needed to restore data, apps, and infrastructure quickly.

DRaaS Considerations

  • Choose among plans. DRaaS providers offer different types of payment options, such as traditional cloud subscriptions and pay-per-use models that incur charges only when disaster strikes. Offerings also allow you to choose the degree of responsibility, if any, you want to retain for your DR environment. 

  • Verify SLAs. Most DRaaS providers offer SLAs, but it’s important to verify that they do and whether they can meet your recovery-time requirements. Those objectives may differ from application to application. It may be tolerable for some applications to be offline for 24 hours, for example, while a few seconds of downtime with others would cause irreparable harm. In addition, find out the impact on recovery times if both the provider and your organization are affected by the same natural disaster.  

  • Can you instantly recover anywhere? As enterprise applications and data become increasingly strewn across private data centers, public clouds, and edge computing sites, recreating the whole environment becomes more complex. Make sure your provider has the ability to deliver cloud-to-cloud replication within a multicloud environment.  

  •  What processes will you use for regularly testing that your DRaaS environment works as expected? You’ll need a system for non-disruptive testing so you can routinely verify your DR readiness. Check if your DRaaS provider offers such an option and what it costs. You’re likely to incur charges, but regular testing is an important component of DR, and the cloud approach will still be less expensive than traditional IT stack replication approaches.

Learn more about how to instantly recover anywhere.

Frequently asked questions

What are RTO and RPO?

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is a measure of how often backups of critical data are taken and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the period of time a business can be ‘offline’ due to IT downtime.

What is the best method for disaster recovery?

The best method for IT disaster recovery is to have immutable backups and a full disaster recovery strategy and backup deployment plan that is tested on a regular basis.

What are steps for testing a DRP?

The five methods of testing your corporate disaster recovery plan are:

  1. Paper Testing - The team reviews backup documentation and planning

  2. Walkthrough Testing - Backup team walkthrough what to do in the event of a data breach or ransomware infection

  3. Simulation Testing - A problem is simulated on test servers to test team response and potential downtime

  4. Parallel Testing - Tests are run on backup servers to simulate a problem before pushing the ‘fix’ to test versions of the production servers

  5. Disaster Recovery Testing - Systems are switched to backups in a simulated attack or data breach