DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) provides standby failover support from a second appliance or the cloud. DRaaS involves replicating your IT environment to the appliance or cloud, so you can rapidly and easily boot your protected systems and data in the event of an IT disaster such as network failure, server failure, and file corruption
How DRaaS works
Enterprise-grade DRaaS solves complex recovery situations, which include micro (i.e. server crash) and macro disasters (i.e. site extensive). If your server crashes, for example, you can simply boot your systems and appliances from your DRaaS appliance. However, for macro disasters such as building flood or fire, where your primary storage and DRaaS appliance are no longer working, you can bring your applications and files back online in minutes in the cloud allowing you to get back to business quickly without waiting to setup a new server or download files.
The benefits of DRaaS
The major benefits of protecting your company's critical systems using DRaaS include:
- Reduced downtime - Depending on the details of your solution, you could typically expect to experience minimal noticeable downtime. Where network failure or server failure occurs, users can rapidly access backup files from their second appliance or the cloud storage. Downtime in relation to comparatively minor issues such as instances of file corruption could also be reduced.
- Reduced expenditure - The costs of large-scale in-house data storage which a traditional DR solution would need include the initial cost of purchasing the necessary IT infrastructure (plus the associated costs of future expansion), staffing costs, and maintenance costs. Because DRaaS doesn’t require this up-front investment, additional resource or maintenance, it’s a cost-effective way to ensure business continuity whatever the size of your organisation.
- Peace of mind - A DRaaS agreement grants access to a professional service that puts real experts on the end of the phone when you need it most. Get the instant advice and clear guidance your company needs to retain expected levels of service or output throughout the working day.
SLA (Service Level Agreement)
Typically, SLAs relating to DRaaS cover two main areas which come into play in the event of a client-side server failure or network failure:
- Recovery Point Objectives (RPO). The agreed RPO indicates the data that must be made available to the user via cloud access in near real-time. The data outlined here is considered mission critical. Companies with large amounts of non-mission-critical data (e.g. legacy client data) can opt to partition these files, excluding them from the agreement.
- Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). The RTO is the agreed timeframe within which full server restoration or network restoration must take place. Where multisite backups are required, the RTO may outline the process of restoration.
Your SLA should also include a plan to test the performance and reliability of the data recovery system against the expectations outlined in the RPO and RTO. This test should take place at least once per month and the results should be collated into a report. Some DRaaS solutions offer unlimited testing for complete peace of mind. Any evidence-based reasoning for changes to the RPO or RTO may then be suggested by the user or provider, so as to create a smoother and more reliable service.
What is cloud seeding for DRaaS?
Cloud seeding is a time saving method of allowing new users to provide an initial large-scale file dump of company data. Once complete, the user may save incremental amounts of data at regular intervals. This removes the need for the user to perform a complete file backup each time data is saved.
How does it work? Cloud seeding uses physical media as an intermediary link between user servers and the cloud – this means that the user is not required to maintain direct contact with the cloud during the upload (a process that is likely to require several days). Instead, a hard disc is provided. The user must make a copy of their database onto this hard disc and return it to the service provider. The service provider then begins the process of uploading the data to the cloud, freeing up the user infrastructure to continue with daily tasks.
Failover to failback
Along with retrieval of data and applications, service users will often receive cloud storage, though if you have your own cloud then some services can use that if you prefer. Following crisis resolution, the migration of data from the cloud back to the client environment should take place as soon as possible. This is so that in the extremely unlikely event that the DRaaS servers are affected by unforeseen issues (such as a natural disaster – e.g. flooding), your company data could be lost. Migrating your data back to your usual environment whether physical or virtual, and retaining your DRaaS as a standby failover service gives you the surety that a backup system is in place.
Want to know more about how DRaaS compares to traditional DR solutions? Read our guide:
4 reasons to reconsider your disaster recovery plan