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Traditional DR vs DRaaS: six questions to ask

When reviewing the differences between traditional disaster recovery and business continuity methods, compared to the more recent DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service) approach, Steve Blow suggests there are six main things to consider before making a decision on what’s best for your company.

1. How robust is your infrastructure and ability to scale?
As your business grows, so does your need for data protection which leads to the need for more robust, enterprise-class infrastructure complete with storage, compute, networking and other services like security. It’s often the case that only the largest of companies can afford to keep this kind of infrastructure in house as the cost gets simply unmanageable, let alone the footprint.

With a DRaaS provider, you’re levering their infrastructure and services providing the benefits of scale, but without the normal cost. Additionally, you wouldn’t have to worry about the cost of keeping a DR environment going 24/7, just in case it’s needed. The majority of DRaaS vendors utilise OpEx-based cloud billing where you only pay on usage. The bonus here is that this also opens time for your IT team to focus on more strategic, business-benefiting initiatives.

Ultimately you have to ask yourself, does the benefit of keeping things close to home outweigh the cost? This leads us to number two.

2. Are you comfortable with outsourcing?
Originally, when options started opening up for traditional DR to be outsourced, the whole thing was still very complex and provided little flexibility in how the DR capability was delivered, including many issues with vendor lock-in. This, understandably, has put a bad taste in many CIOs mouths for outsourcing when it comes to DR and BC.

That said, outsourced DRaaS appears to be overtaking traditional recovery services because the software-only approach puts flexibility in the system that wasn’t available before, avoids vendor lock-in; and does all of this while enhancing traditional DR requirements. DRaaS has helped lower the cost of entry which allows more organizations, notably those in the small and medium business category, to increase the amount of data they can protect, ultimately making their business more resilient.

Perhaps you’ve got a CIO who can’t stomach the idea of outsourcing DR again, but if can convince him or her on the benefits of DRaaS, you may be better for it.

3. Have you experienced problems with latency?
With most traditional DR solutions, latency is a constant point of discussion. The further away the DR site from an organization, the higher the latency, and the larger the impact on production. But location diversification is required, right, to avoid being hit by the same disaster, for example?

Yes and no. In a traditional DR setting, yes, this makes sense. But if you’re looking into a DRaaS provider, don’t let their data centre’s / center’s location worry you. Today it’s possible to have near real time data protection making the latency issue obsolete.

So, if latency has been a major issue for your organization, perhaps it’s time to look into DRaaS options. On top of that, if it’s been a challenge in the past to go the DRaaS route because your options were limited due to certain business stipulations, today’s near real-time features give you significantly more flexibility in choosing a DRaaS provider, increasing your chances of finding one that meets your company’s regulations. 

4. Do you have existing technology partners with DRaaS offerings?
Who are your current technology partners? If the idea of bringing on yet another vendor is just too much, consider the fact that most major IT partners now offer DRaaS solutions. The big guys like Microsoft, IBM, HP as well as many cloud service providers have DRaaS offerings, often with different types of certifications for different types of environments. If you’re an HP customer, your CSP likely has an HP-certified DRaaS solution, for example.

5. Will you remain compliant?
While DRaaS is growing rapidly and is increasingly becoming the DR option of choice for IT professionals, it’s not always a slam dunk decision. The biggest barrier to entry, usually for larger organizations, is compliance. Many organization’s compliance standards simply won’t allow for a DRaaS solution.

Talk with your CIO and your team. Make sure you understand what obstacles may be in the way before diving too deeply into a DRaaS research project.

6. Are you ready for a transition?
No DRaaS solution is going to be a magic bullet. Transitioning from a traditional DR model to DRaaS is never going to be without at least some challenges. And let’s not forget, the transition itself is going to require strong DR to ensure there’s no downtime during the move.

Is your company at a good place to be able to take on some of these challenges? Do you have enough resources right now to see a transition through smoothly? Once you feel the time is right, doing your homework can be the difference between a highly complicated transition and a seamless one. Ask around, bring on an analyst firm, do what you have to do to ensure you’re choosing a DRaaS solution that has a strong reputation when it comes to implementation with services known to make the move as simple and painless as possible.

While DRaaS may not be for everyone right now, it won’t be long before it’s the status quo. With DRaaS proving to increase business productivity, it’s going to be harder and harder to justify the old way. Just as was with many aspects of a digital transformation, those who choose to modernise their DR will likely increase their ability to compete.

The author

Steve Blow, tech evangelist at Zerto.



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