As we discussed in our last blog, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) refers to a provider offering a site and typically managed services around a disaster recovery (DR) offering.
However, not all DRaaS providers are created equal. If you want to reap the benefits of a cloud-based disaster recovery solution, you need to be careful about who you choose to partner with.
Some initial questions IT managers should consider when comparing different DRaaS providers are:What are their replication options?
The provider should support flexible replication of both physical and virtual servers to allow for continual replication of business critical servers.
Do they offer testing?
The DRaaS provider should support low cost, flexible DR testing to determine if and how quickly they could recover from a major outage. This is particularly crucial because, after all, that’s the whole of point using DRaaS.
Do they have multiple data centres? And where are they located?
The DRaaS provider’s backup site should be situated a safe distance from the primary site, but not so far away as to adversely affect application performance. The vendor’s ability to deliver these services to end users during a serious outage (failover) and to restore operations to the primary facility in the wake of an event (failback) are paramount.
How do they ensure data security?
Security within the primary data centre is critical, but ensuring the security posture of the secondary site is equally so. Secondary sites can be low hanging fruit for attackers who think they are an easier target, meaning they require just as much protection.
Before signing on with a provider, IT managers need to understand the shared nature of security responsibilities. How much of the security function is each party accountable for? If you have a failover, for example, once your recovered environment is handed over to you, will it be up to you to recover your anti virus software and data loss prevention systems, or will application and data security be handled by your DRaaS provider?
How closely your IT team will have to work with your chosen provider to “manage recovery assurance” will depend on the type of vendor you choose. Public cloud providers are ‘transactional’ in their approach – they have a huge customer base and provide minimal consultation. In this case, clearly defining responsibilities and ownership of security functions is critical, or you could be exposed without realising it.
On the other hand, a managed service provider will offer a value added service. Rather than sell you the solution and walk away, they’ll commit to the ongoing management of the DR environment to reach peak performance and results for your company.
Screening the SLA
The key is in the Service Level Agreement (SLA), where commitments on availability levels and performance are documented. SLAs differ between providers, so make sure find one that suits your organisation’s requirements before signing on the dotted line. For example, are the guarantees, penalties and recourse offered in the SLA sufficient? A good provider will be flexible on the Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs), and help you set appropriate SLA benchmarks for your business.
Making the right choice
With Disaster Recovery as a Service, IT managers can have the peace of mind that comes with a traditional DR solution. The hardest part is choosing the right vendor.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – you need to be informed so you can cover yourself if it all goes pear shaped. You want to make sure the transition to a cloud-delivered DR service is as seamless as possible, especially if your boss is sceptical.
Overall, IT managers should look for a provider that seeks to understand their organisation’s current backup and recovery challenges, RTOs and RPOs, and data growth. A prospective provider should try to understand your business, your immediate priorities, and your Disaster Recovery objectives.
This may be your only opportunity to prove the Cloud’s worth to your company executives, so don’t take any chances!
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