Disaster recovery as a service for business continuity

A brief look at Disaster Recovery as a Service, and three things to consider before buying it.
With the 2014 hurricane season upon us, and predictions of up to 11 named storms in the Atlantic region this year, once again, we are reminded to have disaster preparedness top of mind. For organisations, the subject of business continuity tends to take on increased importance at this time.

The ability of an organisation to minimise its downtime and the loss of information, following a hurricane or other disaster, can be critical to its long term survival. However, for organisations that offer essential services in particular – to help others in the aftermath of a disaster – it then becomes even more crucial that their services are restored, and available, within the shortest possible time.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) “is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third-party to provide failover in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe” (Source: Whatis.com). DRaaS covers not only the backing up the data; essentially the entire environment is cloned – on physically servers and/or in the cloud. Hence if an organisation’s entire system is lost, the identical saved environment can be easily reinstalled.

Interestingly, a leading DRaaS provider is based in the Caribbean. Columbus Business Solutions – which is now owned by Cable & Wireless Communications plc – was one of 14 companies included in the 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for DRaaS. The Gartner Magic Quadrant highlights the top firms for specific IT-related services, based on criteria developed by Gartner Inc., which is one of the top IT research and advisory firms globally.

Without a doubt, DRaaS can be like having insurance. You buy insurance in the event you need it, and if you do have to rely on it, you hope that it works as it should and without undue difficulty. Below are three things to consider before buying DRaaS.

1.  DRaaS should not be the only failsafe

It is important to consider DRaaS within the context of the organisations larger business continuity/recovery framework. Securing DRaaS, in and of itself, cannot be the only provision made. For example, for essential services and in the aftermath of a disaster, what provisions would need to be made for electricity and to access crucial manpower to restore operations?

2. Figure out with DRaaS is truly needed

The size and nature of your business ought to influence the DRaaS options purchased, and possibly the extent to which DRaaS is necessary. Having said this, it is often in retrospect – when great loss has been experienced – that there is regret about earlier choices. Hence this matter ought to be carefully considered, and should DraaS not be secured, alternative arrangements are comprehensively developed and implemented.

3.  Be rigorous with the SLAs

Finally, for organisations that could benefit from having DRaaS, the service level agreements (SLAs) tend to require rigorous scrutiny. It also means that the organisation ought to have detailed knowledge of its own systems, and be in a position to engage its providers competently on the intricacies of the service, all towards ensuring that should the firm need to rely upon DRaaS, it will work seamlessly and completely.


Image credit:  Wikipedia