The prospect of an IT outage is one of the key issues that keeps IT professionals awake at night. In the past two years, 93% of organisations have experienced tech-related business disruption and, as a result, one out of five experienced major reputational damage and permanent loss of customers. From natural disasters to malicious cyber-attacks, organisations face an abundance of risks to business continuity that impact productivity, prosperity and reputation. Disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) is a mainstream use of the cloud that helps protect against outages through an infrastructure and strategy that deals with worst-case scenarios.
The benefits of cloud DRaaS over on-premise disaster recovery are well-documented. Companies don’t have to double their infrastructure investments and run parallel systems as a backup. DRaaS also offers better protection against threats such as natural disasters because there’s no physical infrastructure to protect. DRaaS is easily scalable to grow with businesses, and it offers native high availability.
A successful DRaaS implementation requires the right cloud service provider (CSP) to help develop a DR plan that meets business objectives. Here are a few pointers to help you select a CSP that fits your needs.
Factors to consider when choosing a DRaaS CSP
When choosing a CSP for DRaaS, you trust them to protect your business during the worst possible scenario. So, you need to be clear on the capabilities and the SLAs they will deliver. This includes weighing costs as part of your budget planning and reviewing regulatory and compliance factors.
With cloud services you pay only for what you consume, which is undeniably preferable to paying for on-premise systems that may never be used. Nevertheless, CSP pricing models can be complex, making it important to know the cost implications should you need to fully failover your production environment to the cloud.
Your CSP should size your environment accurately (at iland we use a tool called Catalyst to do this) for sufficient storage and resources to avoid any nasty surprises in the event of a failover. This also ensures straightforward and transparent pricing so you’re clear on the true costs of your business continuity programme.
In a disaster scenario, your IT team will be stretched and under pressure. It helps if the DR environment you choose is based on familiar structures and terminology. For example, many IT administrators are familiar with a VMware-based cloud product that uses the same toolsets and terminology, which reduces the learning curve to respond faster during a disaster.
It’s also important to know how much of your DR set-up will be a DIY exercise and how much support you can expect from your CSP. Will it be a concierge onboarding service, or do you need to scope extra internal resources or additional consultancy to manage set-up? Look at the support level the CSP commits to provide. Could you ask them to press the failover button if they had to? Will they assist with failing back when the time comes?
Management is another critical factor. One of the benefits of cloud DRaaS is that in-house teams don’t have a second on-premise environment to manage. The environment is replicated without adding to the team’s administrative burden. However, visibility into the DR environment is essential and needs to be simple. Find out how your team will oversee the DR environment and what tools will they use to troubleshoot issues. Are they intuitive or do you need to budget time and resources for training?
Finally, you need assurance that your backup environment is compliant with industry regulations to prevent data vulnerabilities that can compromise your customers and your business. Whatever requirements your business has to meet – HIPAA, GDPR etc – your DRaaS provider needs to guarantee compliance as well.
Automation and orchestration for testing DR plans
DRaaS solutions provide facilities to test DR plans without impacting the production environment. Incredibly, many organisations are still reluctant or even afraid to test their DR plans.
With cloud DRaaS, teams can run recovery tests in replica environments in a short time, generating a full report to detail the performance of every part of the DR plan and recovery orchestration. This gives full visibility into whether or not a business can come back online during a disaster and the order in which applications will recover. Testing in this manner is much more effective than annual testing of on-premise systems and it helps businesses develop a full disaster recovery plan with absolute confidence it will work when needed.
Added value from cloud DRaaS
Beyond its primary purpose of disaster recovery, businesses can double down on their DRaaS investment with a replica virtual environment to support on-demand security testing, system upgrades, patch testing and user acceptance testing without disrupting their production environments. The replica environment contains all the quirks and eccentricities of a live environment for a more thorough testing before going live.
Having a sound disaster recovery plan in place gives peace of mind to IT professionals. Selecting the right CSP deliver DRaaS provides added comfort and confidence, even if that disaster never happens.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.