Traditional DR has been protecting our data for decades. With newer options now available, it’s time to evaluate the differences between the two.
Cloud computing has revolutionised many enterprise IT tasks over the years, and Disaster Recovery (DR) is no exception. Disaster recovery as a Service (DRaaS) uses cloud infrastructure to offer businesses an alternative to traditional DR approaches. Here, we look at some of the major differences between each.
Whether you choose to invest in a DR solution you manage for your business or opt for a DRaaS service managed by a third party provider, the decision can be challenging. Ultimately, you need to look at factors such as cost, complexity and agility; to choose the solution that best suits your organisation’s needs.
Here, we look at some of the major differences between each.
There are several approaches to traditional DR. Companies can rely on basic physical backups — ported off-site — for the cheapest solution. They can escalate all the way up to active-active DR, in which they replicate live systems to a remote site that they own via a wide-area connection. In each of these traditional DR solutions, companies use their own infrastructure and assets to protect their data, so their costs increase as the approach grows more sophisticated. This makes it more difficult to justify better protection to executives.
DRaaS solves that problem. It uses cloud infrastructure to create an active-passive backup site with full recovery of virtualized applications and data for a low monthly cost. It is an egalitarian solution, bringing enterprise-class DR within the reach of the smallest businesses.
One common technique used in traditional disaster recovery is backup to local physical media. In 2017, almost one in three companies still backed up business-critical applications and data to tape according to Forrester’s 2017 State of Disaster Recovery Preparedness survey.
Physical media is often slow and can be unreliable as it deteriorates over time. The only sure way to prove that physical backups work is to test them, but this doesn't happen enough. 38% of respondents to the Forrester survey tested less than once a year, if at all.
DRaaS eliminates the need for physical backups by storing data on cloud-based media that can itself be replicated to ensure data integrity. Testing those backups is relatively easy, because customers can take cloud-based virtual machines and data live at any time.
The other problem with backing up to both physical media and remote, customer-owned facilities is storage capacity. The Enterprise Storage Forum surveyed 374 IT and business professionals in 2018 and found that almost 50% of them had seen data storage grow between one and 99 TB in the last two years. Around 30% had grown anywhere between 100 TB to over 10 PB. Projected data storage growth in the next two years looked similar. Backing up that data becomes increasingly difficult for companies with roll-your-own DR because it involves buying more equipment to cope.
Hybrid DRaaS offers an alternative. All data is backed up to the cloud, where capacity expands cheaply on demand. As a small subset of the entire enterprise data set, mission-critical data is also backed up on a local appliance, creating a more manageable, reliable physical backup less prone to capacity issues.
Every lost minute costs money in an enterprise environment, which is a problem for traditional DR implementations that can take a long time to recover data. Reading data from tape, which must be brought in from off-site, can be time-consuming, as can restoring data from a replicated site over a wide area connection.
Using a mixture of local appliances and online virtualized backups, hybrid DRaaS shortens the recovery time objective to just 15 minutes in some cases. Businesses can recover their mission-critical data directly from the local appliance quickly and easily. In more serious failures, they can simply switch to the cloud and activate their virtualized applications, using data with a short recovery point objective, minimizing their downtime and losses.
As the cloud reduces costs and increases protection, it is becoming more difficult for companies to justify traditional DR approaches. The only things holding them back are sunk costs in legacy equipment and inertia. Over time, the benefits of DRaaS will become increasingly obvious. In ten years, there will doubtless be some companies clinging on to traditional DR approaches, but they will be a shrinking minority.
Whichever avenue you choose, it’s vital that you don’t leave your disaster recovery on the back burner. Find out how you can create a killer DR plan to ensure your business is ready for any situation.
Essential questions to ask your DRaaS provider