UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DISASTER RECOVERY AS A SERVICE AND BACKUP AS A SERVICE

Johnny Carpenter, UK Director at iland

In the world of cloud computing, where day-to-day conversations are littered with acronyms and jargon, words can often become lost in translation. Many organisations end up using the wrong terminology to describe a process or service. One such example is confusion over the difference between backup and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS).

From a service provider’s perspective the two terms have very different meanings but customers often use the phrases interchangeably or as a generic reference to the protection of data. The two are actually quite different in that disaster recovery offers organisations much more than backup.

At iland, backup is defined as a service that provides long-term retention and requires granular restoration of data, and is complementary to disaster recovery plans. It should be an ongoing discipline but for customers requiring business continuity, exclusive usage of backup is not the recommended method of data protection. This is because conversion and manual restores are typically required to access live data at a secondary site which delays end-user access. Conversely disaster recovery, or business continuity, provides rapid restoration of data and access to applications and data for end-users. Data restored is current, or from the last successful checkpoint, and is presented as a live physical or (more commonly) virtual guest within the recovery environment. This capability is critical in today’s business world, which demands 24/7 availability. With downtime costing businesses, an average of $1,400 to $8,000 per minute according to a recent blog posted on the VMware website, many times, backup alone is just not enough.

Knowing the difference between options is crucial. A backup strategy may be lower cost, but if true business continuity is required, then lower monthly costs are wasted if the solution will not accomplish an organisation’s goals. The same can be said for wasting resources and money on a solution that is overkill for a company’s needs.

Depending on the organisation, a combined or all-in-one strategy may be a good option. This is when a replication software vendor provides the capabilities of both responsive near-real-time failover with longer-term restore options. Thanks to the rise of cloud-based disaster recovery, this has become an affordable option for small to mid-sized businesses that were not able to contemplate the idea in the past. The cloud also means that the cost of on-premise disaster recovery solutions will begin to look like a waste of IT resources within bigger organisations, particularly when their on-site solutions aren’t meeting regulatory requirements and compliance.

If an organisation decides that the adoption of a DRaaS strategy is a viable one, it should plan with the following points in mind:

  1. Don’t bury your head in the sand – Don’t hide from disaster recovery planning. A plan for the recovery of your data and applications following a disaster – any kind of disaster – should be prominent on your IT agenda for 2015, preferably earlier. How much business/revenue/reputation do you stand to lose from a disaster if you don’t plan for it?
  1. Think about what suits your business – Make sure you can failover your systems to a cloud data centre that fits your business.Do your due diligence on cloud providers and find out everything you can about data centre sovereignty, security and colocation options.
  1. Don’t make the same mistake twice – Imagine your infrastructure had a near miss but it wasn’t near enough to change the status quo. The flood in the basement at your office building didn’t actually affect your IT environment so you think you can cope with that kind of disaster and, anyway, it’s unlikely to happen again. Except that a few months later it does happen again, only this time it’s a cyber-attack that brings your entire infrastructure down for a couple of days. If only you’d heeded that first warning. Have a disaster recovery solution that allows you to test and failover whenever you need to – not all of them make it easy.
  1. Beware of the snap decision – Threats in the real world can pop up anytime, anywhere – from natural disasters to human error to a squirrel eating through your network cables. Every twist, every turn, every horror headline can keep you up at night. Or worse, they can drive you to make a knee-jerk disaster recovery purchase that ends up being totally inadequate or expensive overkill. But you don’t have to be kept on edge if you have a tested, proven plan in place.
  1. Know who you can trust – Your DRaaS provider should personally work with you to craft a disaster recovery plan that fits your business objectives and enables you to test it whenever and as many times as you wish. No two businesses are the same. Ipso facto – no two disaster recovery plans are the same. Beware of providers that tell you otherwise. Get to know your provider well by working closely with those individuals that are passionate about getting your plan in place and ensuring that it works and keeps working as your business grows.

If organisations invest time and money in the right disaster recovery plan for their business, what they are left with is not simply backups or replication, but a complete strategy for retaining their critical data for long-term periods and rapid recovery for their mission critical applications. iland is  addressing the issues organisations face when trying to manage both backup and disaster recovery by consolidating the control of all processes into one portal. With services like this now on offer to help smooth both backup and disaster recovery planning, companies will be able to more easily navigate options to choose the right capabilities for their business.

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