Using the Cloud for Disaster Recovery

Guest Post by Dante Orsini, SVP Business Development, iland

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) enables an organization to failover applications and workloads to a cloud environment as its secondary, operational site, in the event of a disaster, whatever the nature of the disaster.

Why use a cloud environment for disaster recovery?

When downtime occurs, business continuity remains an expectation held by customers, partners and senior executives alike. Consequently the pressure is on for IT departments to protect an entity’s data and ensure employees, and other authorized parties, have access during a disaster event. Today, if you don’t have a solution for business continuity, it’s likely your competitors will.

One of the most compelling aspects of DRaaS is that you don’t need to own the technology, buy the hardware, or train personnel for your secondary site. DRaaS is typically on a subscription basis, so it becomes an operating expense rather than a capital expense. It’s also more cost effective because you pay for resources when you failover to the cloud. Failing over to a cloud enables the organization to continue operations much quicker than with traditional DR.

A customer’s core business is not one of storing data. That’s not a revenue-generating item and customers typically don’t have the technical capacity, in-house expertise or the time for it. They do, however, want the safety, security and peace of mind that a second site is ready to go, should an emergency situation arise..

What types of businesses are best served by DRaaS?

At iland we serve customers of all sizes across a range of industries. Companies approach us for a variety of reasons, but primarily it’s because they’ve undertaken a risk assessment and have a realistic understanding of what could happen if operations are compromised. Sometimes they’ve had a disaster near miss, or they’ve experienced a disaster and may not survive another one.

It’s important to note that no two DR plans are the same, so we tailor our DRaaS solutions according to each customer’s specific needs. Where one business is fine if customers can’t access data for a few hours or days, another will be fine only if customers can access data within a few minutes or less. For organizations that require 24/7 system availability, DRaaS is an attractive risk management option. Likewise, for customers that operate within regulated industries, a disaster recovery plan is typically a requirement for compliance reasons e.g. HIPAA, PCI DSS etc. Thus, many of these entities are turning to cloud-based DR as a more cost-effective and efficient way to protect applications and achieve business continuity.

How is DRaaS deployed in the event of a disaster?

iland provides many DRaaS options, including real-time replication using Zerto that enables a secondary site to take over at the push of a button. That kind of speed is usually important for organizations with public-facing sites or e-commerce businesses. We also have less immediate plans for those that don’t need such speedy failovers.

Customers have the option of iland managing their secondary site or they can self-manage it through iland’s award-winning ECS portal. Zerto is integrated into the portal, making failover to iland’s cloud environment just one click away.

However their DR plan is configured, customers know it ahead of time — including how to deploy the solution and access the site in the event of a disaster.

Zerto-cloud-management

What are the risks or downside to DRaaS?

For companies used to doing everything themselves, it can be a challenge to shift their DR plan to a third party vendor. Doing that requires a solid working relationship, a good fit and complete trust in the cloud vendor. We believe cloud providers are, and should be, held to a higher standard — we maintain our own internal data sets and compliance-driven testing policies. At the end of the day, we are in the business of protecting our customers’ data and keeping it safe. Some organizations are skeptical about cloud, so we do encourage organizations to look closely at the background of any potential cloud vendor and the certifications they hold. What you don’t want is a provider that’s a fly-by-night operation with a couple of servers in a closet.

Some companies see the cost of DR as an unnecessary expense, but if you carefully consider the value of business continuity, retaining customers, saving transactions and protecting data, it’s a small price to pay in comparison. In fact, many companies see it as another, equally necessary form of insurance.

What else needs to be considered in the decision to adopt DRaaS?

Keep in mind that backup and disaster recovery are two different services. Sometimes we have customers tell us a backup vendor said that all they needed to do was to get their backed-up data to a secondary site,but it’s not that simple. Unless you have a plan you can test and a means to validate that everything works, you won’t have the confidence that a failover will be successful. While iland does provide backup services, it’s a DR plan that’s necessary for safeguarding an organization’s assets.

iland provides a DR Planning and Assessment Service that assists organizations with their DR planning. Whether you need to protect legacy applications on physical equipment, virtualized applications or even systems you operate in other clouds, iland brings over nine years of experience helping customers implement DR plans. Contact us at info@iland.com .

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