So, you've decided that Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is for you. The simplicity and reliability of a cloud-based solution, combined with minimal capital investment costs, are what you are looking for in a business continuity solution. Before diving in and requesting bids, though, beware: not all DRaaS services are equal.
Here are five questions that you should ask your potential DRaaS vendor to ensure that you get a disaster recovery solution that properly serves your business.
1. Are you cloud independent?
One commonly-overlooked issue with cloud service providers is vendor lock-in. Any cloud strategy should include flexible hosting options that allow customers to store their data and applications in whichever cloud environment they which, and cloud-based disaster recovery should be no exception. Ask your DRaaS provider whether it can backup and restore data not just to its own cloud, but to third-party cloud infrastructures such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, or to your own private cloud infrastructure.
2. How quickly can you restore my workflows?
Backing up data to the cloud is only half the story in a successful disaster recovery scenario. Using it to quickly recover from any kind of outage is the other. Consider your recovery time objective (RTO) when evaluating a DRaaS provider. How quickly can a cloud-based recovery solution get you up and running again?
An effective DRaaS provider will be able to restore your workflows within 15 minutes. If your primary site is still operational, a backup appliance that it has stored on your premises should be able to restore mission-critical data to your servers locally. In a more serious physical disaster, the data that the appliance has backed up to the cloud will enable you to restart all of your applications using current data in a virtualized cloud environment.
3. How scalable will my backups be?
Just because cloud environments are elastic doesn't mean that all DRaaS environments are too. Ensure that cloud backups are not limited to the capacity of your local backup appliance. The appliance should serve as a cloud storage gateway, storing critical data locally, but automatically streaming all data to the cloud. This enables it to create not just a functional backup but a long-term archive of enterprise data in the cloud that far surpasses the capacity of the on-premises appliance. This feature will help to avoid capacity planning and sizing issues further down the line.
4. Can you support all my devices and applications?
Like most companies, yours probably has a variety of applications and devices, built up by different teams over the years. A competent DRaaS solution should support all of them, ranging from mobile and fixed endpoints through to file and application servers. Ask about specific application support for common business applications such as Exchange and Microsoft Office 365, and ensure that the DRaaS service provider can support all of the operating systems you use. It should also support virtual environments at the host level, so that it can detect and backup all virtual machines including those not addressed by a hypervisor's native backup tools.
5. How much will I pay for all this?
DRaaS is a vital business function but not a revenue-generating one. Customers want predictable costs with no unwelcome surprises. Ask about costs including the appliance, the cloud storage service, maintenance and support. Work with the DRaaS vendor to size the appliance appropriately, ensuring that you don't pay for underused space on your premises, or incur extra costs upgrading the appliance too soon. Look for a simple, easily-manageable cost model.
Listen carefully to how your would-be DRaaS service provider answers these questions, as their responses will form the foundations for your future business continuity. A DRaaS provider committed to a long-term, productive relationship should be able to answer all these questions, and more, to make sure you're confident your choice is right for your needs before pushing 'go' on the project.
Forest Way School reduces DR costs whilst improving Recovery Time Objective (RTO)