Disaster Recovery as a Service: Definition, Benefits, and Types

| Author , tagged in cloud managed services, cloud security
Cloudticity, L.L.C.

Disaster recovery (DR) is a critical component of protecting information technology (IT) resources. In the absence of a reliable DR plan, companies risk outages that affect the business and even cause them to lose customers. The ability to quickly and effectively recover an IT environment during a disaster is a crucial part of business resiliency and continuity.

Traditionally, disaster recovery entailed maintaining a physical recovery site, like a colo or datacenter where the data could be replicated over the network to enact recovery. Another strategy involves shipping offsite backups to the recovery site which is used to restore the computing environment. These methods of disaster recovery are expensive and require considerable financial and technical resources to implement.

Cloud service providers (CSPs) have developed offerings known as disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) that enable businesses of any size to protect their IT environment. We’re going to look at the benefits of cloud disaster recovery services and the different DRaaS models available from cloud vendors.

What is Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)?

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is a cloud computing model in which an organization’s IT infrastructure and data are backed up in a cloud vendor’s environment. The cloud environment can then be used to recover the infrastructure and its functionality in the event of a disaster, enabling a business to continue operations.

The characteristics of a viable DRaaS solution are:

  • A mechanism for automatically backing up business-critical systems and data;
  • The ability to recover systems quickly in response to a disaster;
  • Flexibility in selecting target systems for backup and recovery;
  • Options that allow for partial or complete recovery of the environment.

DR as a service can be used to protect cloud and on-premises environments. In an on-premises implementation, the customer must replicate in-scope systems to the cloud so they can be recovered on-demand. Cloud environments also need to be backed up so the data can be used in the disaster recovery process.

Using DRaaS to prepare for a disaster

DRaaS is one part of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. All organizations should develop a DR plan to protect them from manmade or natural disasters that affect their computing environment. The DR plan needs to address multiple aspects of a company’s IT resources and their recovery including:

  • Prioritizing systems for recovery based on their importance to the business;
  • Ensuring these systems are backed up to the CSP providing the DRaaS solution;
  • Detailing recovery operations to bring affected systems back online;
  • Recovering the systems in the cloud and making them available to users and customers.

DRaaS addresses the backups required for recovery and provides a physical or virtual infrastructure in which they are recovered.

How does DRaaS work?

DRaaS works by recovering a customer’s computing environment using vendor-supplied cloud resources. After recovery, the customer can continue business operations using the cloud infrastructure. A well-crafted and effectively executed DR plan including a DRaaS component can recover the environment with minimal impact on the business.

Advantages of DR as a Service

Adopting a DRaaS solution offers organizations multiple advantages that include:

  • Access to disaster recovery experts who can help plan, implement, and test a DR plan;
  • On-demand execution of the recovery plan without transporting backup media to a recovery site;
  • Enhanced resiliency, as the environment can be recovered in geographically disparate locations to guard against large-scale physical disasters;
  • Eliminating the need for companies to procure and support alternate physical recovery sites;
  • Freeing an organization’s IT team for other projects;
  • Making disaster recovery accessible to small businesses without the necessary in-house technical expertise or financial resources.

Three Types of DRaaS

Three different DRaaS models are available from CSPs. The models allow companies to determine their level of control and involvement in the disaster recovery process.

Managed DRaaS

The managed DRaaS model provides full vendor support in planning, testing, and managing a company’s DR plan. The provider manages virtually all aspects of the plan and its execution if disaster strikes. This model is designed for companies that do not have the time or skills to manage disaster recovery. IT providers need to be kept aware of changes in the environment that affect recovery.

Managed DRaaS is usually more expensive than other options but delivers a complete disaster recovery service. Companies should enter into a service level agreement (SLA) with their provider to define the vendor’s responsibilities.

Assisted DRaaS

In the assisted DRaaS model, the CSP provides guides to an organization as they develop, test, and manage the DR solution. The customer is responsible for the execution of the plan. In some cases, the provider may make technical resources available to assist in the recovery.

Typically, no SLA is associated with the assisted DRaaS model. Responsibility for the success of the cloud disaster recovery rests completely with the customer.

Self-Service DRaaS

Self-service DRaaS is the least expensive option and requires the customer to assume responsibility for all aspects of planning, testing, and executing a DR plan. The CSP is responsible for providing backup management software and making infrastructure elements available to the customer. This model requires a company to have the necessary technical resource to plan and perform the recovery. It essentially provides a virtualized infrastructure to be used in the event of a disaster.

What Should You Consider When Choosing a DRaaS?

Answering the following questions should influence your selection of a DRaaS model.

  • What is the level of assistance you need from the CSP? Companies looking for maximum assistance should consider managed DRaaS solutions.
  • How reliable is the vendor? What SLAs do they have for urgent issues? Your company’s reputation depends on having a reliable vendor.
  • How is access provided to recovered systems? The process to access recovered internal and customer-facing systems needs to mesh with your business objectives.

Cloudticity provides managed DRaaS as part of our managed cloud offering. Exclusively helping healthcare companies. We can help you implement the right DRaaS strategy for your organization. Want to learn more about how we can help with DR within your AWS or Azure environment? Schedule a free consultation with a healthcare cloud specialist today.

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