Continuity Central interviews Capital Continuity managing director Lee Exall, who gives his views on disaster recovery as a service, how it is a much more versatile tool than often appreciated, and how it is likely to develop.
DRaaS – or disaster recovery as a service to give it its full name – has become very fashionable. In a nutshell, DRaaS is the ability to utilise cloud computing based recovery services from a third party, normally on a subscription-based basis. With the acceptance by the vast majority of organizations that cloud computing is a mainstream technology bringing more benefits than difficulties, so DRaaS has grown in popularity alongside. Barely a week seems to go by without a new DRaaS service being launched, either by a technology provider itself or by one of a multitude of resellers; and Gartner predicts that ‘by 2018, the number of organizations using disaster recovery as a service will exceed the number of organizations using traditional, syndicated recovery services,’ (1).
As well as growing alongside its enabling cloud computing technology, DRaaS has also grown because of the pressure on organizations to steadily decrease the time that it takes for data and services to be available following an outage. The days of four-hour recovery time objectives being acceptable are gone, driven by rapidly diminishing customer tolerance of downtime. DRaaS reduces recovery times to minutes, something far beyond the capabilities of traditional disaster recovery.
Initially the perceived wisdom was that DRaaS was mainly a service for small organizations but, as the market has developed, this perception has changed, with mature enterprise-class DRaaS solutions successfully in place around the world.
Continuity Central: Lee, from watching the media there seems little doubt that DRaaS will be at the heart of the vast majority of organizational business continuity and resilience plans by the end of the decade. Is this how you view disaster recovery services going forward?
Lee Exall: Despite the name, there is much more to DRaaS than just its disaster recovery capabilities. DRaaS is actually simply a label for technologies that enable the movement of data and applications from one location to another. This workload mobilisation ability brings many additional advantages in today’s cloud computing landscape and this is what I view as the future for our space. I’m not comfortable with the term disaster recovery as a service as it reduces the use cases to simply recovering from disasters. Where I see the future of the technology is in the ability to switch a workload to active rather than being focussed on recovering following a business interruption.
Continuity Central: What are the additional use cases and services that you are seeing alongside traditional live and test recoveries?
Lee Exall: As the world embraces cloud computing, DRaaS providers need to clearly show the flexibility of their offerings. For the past few years DRaaS has predominately been used in a single direction, for protection and recovery to the cloud. Now, as organisations have hybrid deployments, DRaaS technologies need to offer multi directional solutions that deliver protection from the cloud and across cloud providers. We are also seeing other use cases for our BIPs technology, including: automation to provision temporary or permanent analytical environments; and cloud extractions to private clouds or to an alternative cloud provider, when performance, service or costs require this.
Continuity Central: What is next for the DRaaS space and Capital Continuity?
Lee Exall: We believe that, wherever an organisation chooses to operate its business technology from, those systems and data assets require protection. The protection responsibility cannot be deferred to the active platform provider as that is putting the organization’s business solely in somebody else’s hands.
At Capital Continuity we continue to innovate and are currently developing the next-generation of BIPs which will be majorly focused on the movement of workloads with onward protection between mainstream hyperscalers, open source based cloud providers and private clouds. This is because we understand our customers’ workloads will require multi-directional protection and availability options for their hybrid deployments where the mobilisation function is already baked in to their DRaaS technology.
When it comes to DRAAS services the saying ‘not all that glitters is gold’ is certainly true. DRAAS has the potential to offer many advantages beyond simple disaster recovery to the forward thinking organization. But this opportunity will only be realised if due diligence is carried out when selecting the appropriate DRAAS offering. Do your homework and your DRAAS service will provide a great return on investment for your business continuity budget.
Lee Exall is the managing director and founder of Capital Continuity. Capital Continuity is a UK-based innovator in DRAAS services and was listed as a Gartner Cool Vendor in 2015. Its Business Interruption Protection Software (BIPS) is used by many organizations worldwide, either directly or via partners. www.capitalcontinuity.co.uk
(1) Magic Quadrant for Disaster Recovery as a Service, Gartner, April 2015