Disaster recovery as a service(DRaaS) is a cloud computing service model that allows an organization to back up its data and IT infrastructure in a third party cloud computing environment and provide all the DR orchestration, all through a SaaS solution, to regain access and functionality to IT infrastructure after a disaster. The as-a-service model means that the organization itself doesn’t have to own all the resources or handle all the management for disaster recovery, instead relying on the service provider.
Disaster recovery planning is critical to business continuity. Many disasters that have the potential to wreak havoc on an IT organization have become more frequent in recent years:
- Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes
- Equipment failures and power outages
True DRaaS mirrors a complete infrastructure in fail-safe mode on virtual servers, including compute, storage and networking functions. An organization can continue to run applications—it just runs them from the service provider’s cloud or hybrid cloud environment instead of from the disaster-affected physical servers. This means recovery time after a disaster can be much faster, or even instantaneous. Once the physical servers are recovered or replaced, the processing and data is migrated back onto them. Customers may experience higher latency when their applications are running from the cloud instead of from an on-site server, but the total business cost of downtime can be very high, so it’s imperative that the business can get back up and running.
DRaaS works by replicating and hosting servers in a third-party vendor’s facilities versus in the physical location of the organization that owns the workload. The disaster recovery plan is executed on the third-party vendor’s facilities in the event of a disaster that shuts down a customer’s site. Organizations may purchase DRaaS plans through a traditional subscription model or a pay-per-use model that allows them to pay only when disaster strikes. As-a-service solutions vary in scope and cost—organizations should evaluate potential DRaaS providers according to their own unique needs and budget.
DRaaS can save organizations money by eliminating the need for provisioning and maintaining an organization’s own off-site disaster recovery environment. However, organizations should evaluate and understand service level agreements. For instance, what happens to recovery times if both the provider and customer are affected by the same natural disaster, such as a large hurricane or earthquake. Different DRaaS providers have different policies on prioritizing which customers get help first in a large regional disaster or allowing customers to perform their own disaster recovery testing.
Many businesses with lean IT teams simply can’t afford to take the time needed to research, implement and fully test disaster recovery plans. DRaaS takes the burden of planning for a disaster off of the organization and puts it into the hands of experts in disaster recovery. It can also be much more affordable than hosting your own disaster recovery infrastructure in a remote location with an IT staff standing by if disaster strikes. If a disaster doesn’t happen, that expensive second infrastructure and staff never get used. Many DRaaS providers charge you only if you need their services. For many organizations, DRaaS is a helpful solution to a nagging problem.
Organizations may choose to hand over all or part of their disaster recovery planning to a DRaaS provider. There are many different disaster recovery as a service providers to choose from, with three main models:
Managed DRaaS: In a managed DRaaS model, a third party takes over all responsibility for disaster recovery. Choosing this option requires an organization to stay in close contact with their DRaaS provider to ensure that it stays up to date on all infrastructure, application and services changes. If you lack the expertise or time to manage your own disaster recovery, this may be the best option for you.
Assisted DRaaS: If you prefer to maintain responsibility for some aspects of your disaster recovery plan, or if you have unique or customized applications that might be challenging for a third party to take over, assisted DRaaS might be a better option. In this model, the service provider offers its expertise for optimizing disaster recovery procedures, but the customer is responsible for implementing some or all of the disaster recovery plan.
Self-service DRaaS: The least expensive option is self-service DRaaS, where the customer is responsible for the planning, testing and management of disaster recovery, and the customer hosts its own infrastructure backup on virtual machines in a remote location. Careful planning and testing are required to make sure that processing can fail over to the virtual servers instantly in the event of a disaster. This option is best for those who have experienced disaster recovery experts on staff.
Whichever of these models suits you, VMware has a solution. If you would drive your own DRaaS solution to your own target DR site, you can consider solutions like Site Recovery Manager and VMware vSphere Replication. If you want to drive your own to VMware Cloud on AWS, you can consider solutions like VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery and VMware Site Recovery. If you would like a service provider to assist you with DR, whether fully managed or self service, consider VMware Cloud Director Availability from one of our DRaaS Validate partners
With disaster recovery as a service, the service provider moves an organization’s computer processing to its cloud infrastructure in the event of a disaster. This way, the business can continue to operate, even if the original IT infrastructure is totally destroyed or held hostage. This differs from backup as a service, where only the data, but not the ability to process the data, is duplicated by a third-party provider. Because BaaS is only protecting the data, and not the infrastructure, it is typically less expensive than DRaaS. BaaS can be a good solution for companies that need to archive data or records for legal reasons, but most organizations who use BaaS will want to combine it with another disaster recovery tool to ensure business continuity.
Planning for disaster and getting the help you need is something every business needs to consider. Whatever option you choose, a disaster recovery plan is essential for business continuity, and organizations are increasingly turning to DRaaS.