The rise of disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) has presented organisations with an unprecedented opportunity to shore up their resilience at a fraction of the cost of traditional disaster recovery (DR).
However, while cost is an important driver for the use of DRaaS, that’s not to say it should be considered a commodity purchase. Your DRaaS environment could be the last lifeline of your business in a disruptive event, so it pays not to take any chances when it comes to security, availability and whether your SLAs will be upheld in a worst-case scenario.
With that in mind, here are five questions every DRaaS buyer needs to ask a potential provider.
1. Where will my data live?
In order to make an informed decision in your choice of DRaaS provider, you should aim to find out as much about their data centre, or data centres, as possible. Where will your data live, for example, and who actually owns that infrastructure? Are there any risks around compliance and data sovereignty to consider, and will the level of latency have implications for your recovery time objectives (RTOs)?
Note also that many disruptive events, from floods to network outages, can affect infrastructure across a wide geographical area, so it’s important to ensure your primary and DR sites won’t be knocked offline by the same incident. This means looking for network and power diversity, as well as knowing where your DRaaS provider’s data centre sits on the map.
2. What’s your own DR plan?
In the same way, whatever the level of resilience in your DRaaS provider’s data centre, you should expect them to have their own DR arrangements in place to prevent service disruption. Check for a robust and well-documented DR plan that includes - as mentioned above - geographically dispersed sites and diverse network and power feeds.
3. How will you help me meet my RPO and RTO requirements?
DRaaS isn’t just storage for your backups - it should be an end-to-end service to help your business continue to function through thick and thin. Look for a provider that will take the time to understand your business and your requirements, and work with you in partnership to ensure your recovery point objectives (RPOs) and RTOs are met.
This may require a degree of flexibility in the way they deliver their service. In order to meet a demanding RTO, for example, it may be necessary to undertake a full or partial failover rather than restore from backup - something not all DRaaS providers will be able to offer.
4. Will I stay in control of my data?
As with any hosting arrangement, it’s important to ensure you stay in control of your data and can take it out of the DRaaS environment without any issues (say if you want to move your DR in-house or to another provider). Before you choose a DRaaS provider, check this is possible and that your snapshots can be delivered in your desired format.
5. How is the DRaaS solution priced?
Finally, when getting a feel for a potential DRaaS provider, take a look at their pricing options and understand what it is you’ll be entitled to. How many hours per week or per month will you be able to fire up your DRaaS environment to conduct maintenance, for example? How much will it cost to use it as a production environment if necessary? And how will things change as your capacity requirements grow?
DR has always had a reputation for high costs, and can be a difficult investment to justify when the ideal outcome is that you’ll never need it. DRaaS is helping to change that - but it’s still important to be a savvy and diligent buyer.