Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) enables businesses to outsource the responsibility of data loss mitigation. DRaaS utilizes a cost-effective combination of hardware and cloud technology to provide real-time IT infrastructure backup and redundant functionality to minimize service downtime when recovering from a disaster.

What is DRaaS

DRaaS provides companies with an outsourced option for protecting their IT infrastructure and related applications against natural and digital disasters. Disasters such as hardware failure, a power outage, issues with fiber connection, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even cyber-attacks have the ability to inhibit a company’s ability to operate and serve customers. Aside from human capital, a company’s IT infrastructure is often its most valuable asset, and having a recovery plan is essential to avoid expensive downtime and business interruption.

How it Works

DRaaS utilizes a combination of hardware and cloud-based infrastructure to provide disaster recovery solutions that are more reliable than the typical in-house disaster recovery procedures. DRaaS leverages the elasticity of the cloud to entirely replicate a company’s critical IT infrastructure, including the service and server environment necessary to keep running. 

The underlying goals of DRaaS are defined by recovery time objections (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO). RTO is the maximum amount of time that an application might be unavailable to a company during an outage and is typically measured in minutes. RPO is the period of time in which data loss would occur that a company is willing to experience during a disaster event and is typically measured in seconds. RTO and RPO have cost implications; for example, it is more expensive to back up your data every 30 minutes versus every 30 seconds.

Value of DRaaS

If you are a company that fully replicates its existing IT infrastructure in a second data center, DRaaS could help you significantly reduce costs and downtime. There are two primary reasons that DRaaS is a cheaper and more efficient solution than in-house disaster recovery. The first is that DRaaS providers do not have to run active/active services to their end-users; said in other words, if you are not in the middle of a disaster event, then you are not utilizing any of the DRaaS provider’s computing resources.

The second reason is that DRaaS providers utilize high performing software that enables customers to share resources, meaning while you aren’t using your DRaaS computing resources, another customer can be. This elastic computing infrastructure paired with virtualized servers reduces the DRaaS provider’s physical infrastructure needs and dramatically reduces costs to the end customer.

A DRaaS is more than simply a backup service provider. DRaaS is intended to support all the necessary infrastructure, configurations, and functionality to completely replace your live service in the event of a failover. No business can sustain a network failure of any kind in today’s marketplace given the high cost of downtime, so IT managers are under pressure to maintain 100% uptime.

DRaaS can also reduce some of the complexity associated with disaster recovery. It’s an event that many businesses hope never to encounter, so unless you are regularly monitoring and testing your disaster recovery processes, there’s a good chance things will not go smoothly when you need them to the most. This responsibility can be partially or fully offloaded to a DRaaS provider, depending on whether you want a fully-managed service or simply the resources needed to provide redundancy to your own procedures.

DRaaS Challenges and Risks

Outsourcing both your company data and disaster recovery procedures to a third-party are perhaps both the biggest benefit and the biggest risk of DRaaS. In the event of a disaster, you rely on the DRaaS provider to properly implement all business continuity and disaster recovery plans. The DRaaS service must scale to meet your business’s needs at a moment’s notice.

Scalability and capacity are difficult to accurately determine when evaluating DRaaS solutions. The agile and flexible nature of DRaaS allows providers to cut costs by only utilizing resources when a client is actively in disaster recovery mode. This assumes that most clients will not require the use of their service at any given time. Thus, it can be difficult to determine whether a DRaaS provider has the bandwidth and capacity to simultaneously handle many customers.

Security is another crucial consideration. Because you are relying on a third-party provider for backing up your data and replicating your service, you need to be sure they have comprehensive security policies in place. Compliance forms like HIPAA, PCI, or others have to be considered when choosing your DRaaS provider. Where possible, ask the potential service provider for their Service Organization Control 2 report. This will detail their non-financial controls, such as security and privacy policies, confidentiality, availability, and processing integrity. This is important for understanding how the provider handles your data, where your data is going, and how it is being used. Failing to utilize a compliant DRaaS solution could result in bad PR, fines, and even criminal charges.

Last, and certainly not least, is your network connectivity. The initial data replication and constant data backups will increase the traffic load on your network. Before choosing a DRaaS provider, you need to ensure that your company has adequate bandwidth to support the increased traffic of an outsourced solution. 

Implementing DRaaS

DRaaS providers will typically offer tiered pricing plans, which offers different service levels depending on your needs. Recovery times are often one of the defining features of different tiers, so understanding your IT assets’ criticality and mapping them to an appropriate payment plan is important. These recovery times can span from under an hour to several hours or 24 to 48 hours, depending on the payment plan. It’s important to get this right so you are not caught out in the event of a disaster.

A high-performing disaster recovery solution is integral to any modern IT strategy. DRaaS can provide peace of mind to an organization, its employees and customers.