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DR: choosing the right provider for your needs

Article Type: Opinion          Published: 03-2018         Views: 2806      



Disaster Recovery in the cloud presents organisations with a multitude of opportunities and potential challenges. Richard Stinton, Enterprise Solutions Architect at iland, gives his take on what organisations should be looking for when choosing the right provider for them

I recently wrote an article which centred on Gartner's prediction that the Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) market would grow from $2.01B in 2017 to $3.7B by 2021. In my opinion, one of the main drivers for this rapid level of growth is the fact that it is 'as a service' and not the complex and expensive 'create your own' environment that it used to be.

As a result, this has made DRaaS much more accessible to the SMB market, as well as enterprise customers. But, as the list of DRaaS solutions grows along with adoption rates, it's important for customers to carefully consider how their choice of cloud provider should be influenced by their existing infrastructure. This will help to avoid technical challenges down the road.

Before I delve into the key considerations for customers when choosing a DR solution, I should, for the sake of the uninitiated amongst us, explain what DR is. It literally means to recover from a disaster, and so encompasses the time and labour required to be up and running again after a data loss or downtime. DR depends on the solution that is chosen to protect the business against data loss.

It is not simply about the time during which systems and employees cannot work. It is also about the amount of data lost when having to fall back on a previous version of that data. Businesses should always ask themselves: "How much would an hour of downtime cost?" And, moreover, "Is it possible to remember and reproduce the work that employees, or systems did in the last few hours?"

In the past, customers would usually have resorted to building out a secondary data centre complete with a suitably sized stack of infrastructure to support their key production servers in the event of a DR undertaking. They could either build with new infrastructure, or eke out a few more years from older servers and networking equipment. Often, they would even buy similar storage technology that would support replication.

More recently software-based replication technologies have enabled a more heterogeneous setup, but still requiring a significant investment in the secondary data centre, and, not forgetting the power and cooling required in the secondary DC, coupled with the ongoing maintenance of the hardware, all of which increases the overall cost and management task of the DR strategy.

Even recent announcements such as VMware Cloud on AWS, are effectively managed colocation offerings, involving a large financial commitment to physical servers and storage which will be running 24/7.

So should customers be looking to develop their own DR solutions, or would it be easier and more cost-effective to buy a service offering?

Enter DRaaS. Now, customers need only pay for the storage associated with their virtual machines being replicated and protected, and only pay for CPU and RAM when there is a DR test or real failover.

When determining the right DR provider for your organisation, I would always recommend undertaking a disaster recovery requirements checklist - regardless of whether you are choosing an in-house or DRaaS solution. This checklist should cover the following points:

• Does the DR solution offer continuous replication?
• Which RTO and RPO does the solution offer?
• DRaaS - does the Cloud Service Provider offer a reliable and fast networking solution, and does the DRaaS solution offer networking efficiencies like compression?

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