What is Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)?

Until the last few years companies wanting quick fail-over to a remote site faced huge costs, time and complexity.  Consequently, only very large companies with deep pockets could afford to implement offsite disaster recovery.

Today, the technology and the internet have enabled highly cost effective methods to provide DR services to organizations that traditionally have not been able to afford such capabilities in the past.  In combination, today’s consumers expect the services they use to always be available, and this drives many companies to look at implementing DR fail-over so business is not interrupted.

The cost of an organization hosting its own disaster recovery site can be cost-prohibitive. Not only in terms of money but also time, and effort. Costs include hosting remote sites, managing servers, managing applications, monitoring the backups and replication, and regular testing. However, it’s possible to offset these costs by utilizing a service provider offering Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS.

DRaaS is a way for organizations to utilize service providers, like Managecast, who provide protection for virtual servers in a cloud environment by offering infrastructure, software, and management for DR solutions.

Failover

Organizations utilizing DRaaS replicate their data continuously or periodically, depending on their desired Recovery Point Objective (RPO), to the service provider. Then, in a DR event, the organization can fail-over all or some of their environment by simply powering on their VMs in the service providers cloud-DR infrastructure and continue to operate.

The organizations have access to failed over replicas through predefined methods. In the event of a partial failover of only some of the organizations servers their local network can be extended to the cloud-DR environment allowing them to access the servers as if they were still hosted locally. Alternatively, in a full failover event an organizations servers can be accessed remotely. E.g. through a web console, VPN or remote desktop services. Service providers and also provide new public IPs to minimize downtime for public facing applications.

An example of a web console used for failover and testing DR.
An example of a web console used for failover and testing DR.

If after the fail-over has been performed the organization is able to get their local infrastructure back up and running, depending on the DR solution, they can also fail back to production. Failing back means replicating any changes made during the fail-over in the DR environment back to the production side.

Testing

After replicating to the service provider, it will be necessary to perform regular DR testing to make sure things go smoothly in a DR situation. Most DRaaS providers will allow organizations to perform their own testing which allows them to set test criteria.

Testing can be as simple as logging into the service providers web console, powering on a VM, and verifying application or service functionality.

Costs

While not all service providers charge for DRaaS the same, a common model is based on usage per hour. Meaning that the organization will be charged for only what they use.

Management

In some cases the DRaaS provider will offer additional management in terms of the replication process. This can include monitoring the replication, alerting the organization of any potential issues, as well as providing fully-managed service solutions.

While an organization may view DR as an additional cost, for DRaaS service providers providing backup and replication is their sole focus. By using a service provider for DRaaS they gain access to that expertise and can leverage them for any DR needs.