Making a case for DRaaS


2 October 2014
Jack Bailey of iland

When was the last time you experienced unplanned downtime? How much did it impact your organisation?

Business leaders often think a disaster is something that happens to someone else. When most people think of disasters, they immediately think about hurricanes or earthquakes. However, a disaster doesn’t have to be a naturally occurring one. It could be human error or a cyber-attack. Therefore, it’s important to have a plan B to protect your mission critical applications and data. It’s also important to know that it’s more than a loss in revenue or five minutes of downtime – an IT disaster can wreak havoc on your overall brand and customer loyalty.

In the Asia Pacific, top-level decision makers often think that costs of disaster recovery initiatives are prohibitive and companies, particularly small and medium sized businesses, lack the expertise and manpower to deploy and maintain such backup systems. Evidently, proper education and awareness among top-level executives could help to give disaster recovery projects more prominence.

Here are five reasons why Asian companies should consider Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).

1) It’s cost effective

On average it takes organisations two days to recover from an IT disaster, according to a 2012 Ponemon Institute study on disaster recovery. The same study found that this equates to US$366,363 in costs a year. However, there are some hidden costs to experiencing downtime such as lost revenue and damage to the brand. For example, when a major airline’s reservation system goes down for eight hours straight, it leaves customers stranded, scrambling to make other arrangements and thinking twice the next time they look to book a flight.

Organisations that utilise Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) providers reported cost savings as the leading benefit of using the public cloud for disaster recovery, according to a study by the Aberdeen Group – a research firm helping businesses understand the implications and results of technology deployments. You don’t have to worry about a large capital investment; you can trade that in by contracting DRaaS.

Costs to partner with a DRaaS provider vary depending on how many virtual machines an organisation needs to replicate and the size of the data. Costs can range from US$60 to US$120 per month per virtual machine and can vary depending on factors such as recovery point objective, recovery time objective, storage, etc.

2) It’s easy to implement

Disaster recovery in the cloud is now more attainable for businesses of all sizes than it was five years ago. Before virtualization, disaster recovery would cost at least three times as much because an organisation needed to have multiple data centres, specialised software and large network connections. To do this in the physical world is extremely costly. That’s why only the largest of enterprises were able to do it. Now virtualisation makes disaster recovery easier by encapsulating virtual machines into a few files, making the data portable and in turn reducing costs.

Disaster solutions also give users the flexibility to take a look at their applications and define how they want them to be recovered. Do they want to protect the entire infrastructure? Do they want to protect just Tier 1 applications? Do they need a variable recovery time and variable recovery point from Tier 1 down to Tier 3 applications? Gone are the days of having to build a secondary site identical to a primary site and incur all the additional management costs and operational challenges.

3) Reduces data loss

The risk of business interruption, loss of business critical data and the length of time to recover business critical data are three leading pressures driving organisations’ use of the public cloud for disaster recovery, according to a study by the Aberdeen Group. DRaaS users are able to recover three times faster and drive up the percentage of data they’re able to recover by two fold.

4) Restores applications and operations fast and effectively

According to a survey conducted by the Aberdeen Group, businesses cited faster recovery time from downtime incidents as the second leading benefit of utilising the public cloud for disaster recovery.

Many believe backing up data on tapes is the equivalent of disaster recovery. Protecting data is important; however the ability to recover applications efficiently and quickly is essential in restoring operations. Having data on tapes or using data storage without virtual resources and the ability to easily test isn’t disaster recovery; that’s just off-site back up and not true business continuity.

For example, when relying on backup tapes, a major automotive leasing company required two weeks to fully restore their operations. By moving to cloud-based disaster recovery, they were able to dramatically cut downtime to 30 minutes.

5) Testing 1, 2, 3

Businesses can put their disaster recovery plan to the test anytime throughout the year without bringing down production. It’s extremely important to ensure applications and data or IT environments come up on another site and no data is lost. Businesses can conduct planned or unplanned outages within the first few months of replication to ensure their disaster recovery plan works.

In a 2012 study, Forrester reported that only about half of companies conduct full tests once a year. While organisations cite limited employee resources as the biggest stumbling block, cloud disaster recovery tests are now more automated and require less manual intervention.

The value of disaster recovery testing is to ensure all systems you want to replicate are recovered and that you have access to them. Once you are in the middle of an actual disaster recovery event - it is too late.

  • Jack Bailey is a product manager for iland, a global enterprise cloud services provider.