Exploring disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) benefits

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What is disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)?

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) expands on traditional on-premises disaster recovery (DR) solution capabilities by using public cloud infrastructure—Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, or another public cloud—as a recovery location for failover and failback via an as-a-service consumption model.

By subscribing to DRaaS, organizations can minimize downtime and data loss; more easily meet service-level agreements (SLAs); simplify operations; reduce costs; and improve time to value. By using pay-as-you-go public cloud infrastructure, DRaaS democratizes DR, making it accessible to businesses both large and small, and eliminating trade-offs when deciding which applications or data assets must be protected in case of a natural or man-made disaster.

Why is disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) important?

Natural disasters are becoming more commonplace. Greater digitization has the potential to increase human error. Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. All of these together increase the chance of a catastrophe taking down IT operations, even entire digital businesses, with little or no warning.

Business continuity requires companies to put in place a disaster recovery (DR) strategy and solution. But many organizations find that the barriers to successfully achieving an effective DR implementation are formidable. In particular, creating a parallel infrastructure with all the power, cooling, hardware, and software requirements capable of supporting the entire operations in case of disaster is very challenging due to the large investments in time and money required.

Because of this, most companies compromise when deciding which data and applications to recover first and which ones have to wait. For many organizations, this means prioritizing a small set of mission-critical applications. If or when a disaster strikes, they cross their fingers and hope that no one notices that some business-critical and “best-effort” applications are down for what can be extended periods of time.

Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS, solves these challenges and more. By using the pay-as-you-go infrastructures of public cloud providers (e.g., AWS, GCP, Azure, and others), DRaaS fails over into the cloud, helping teams cut DR costs drastically when compared to managing a dedicated secondary site and democratizing DR by making it simple and accessible to many more teams.

How does DRaaS work?

DRaaS solutions generally work by taking advantage of cloud-based disaster recovery (DR) orchestration engines found in modern data management platforms or in some cases a stand-alone DR solution. They use the data management platform’s snapshot-based backups and data replication capabilities to move the organization’s data offsite to the public cloud.

Once the data is in the cloud, the as a service disaster recovery, or DRaaS, solution ensures that it is ready to spin up and fail over on demand, directly into the organization’s own public cloud account on AWS, Azure, or GCP should a disaster occur.

Leading DRaaS solutions such as Cohesity will manage the entire DR process orchestration workflow—from replication, to format conversion from VMware VMDK to the public cloud format, to failover and failback—using and automating the organization’s own DR plans and runbooks.

Why is DRaaS useful?

By subscribing to DRaaS, organizations can:

  • Minimize downtime and loss of data.
  • Make it easier to meet service-level agreements (SLAs).
  • Simplify operations.
  • Reduce costs.
  • Improve time to value.

With its pay-as-you-go, subscription pricing structure, DRaaS democratizes DR, making it accessible to businesses both large and small. This eliminates the traditional trade-offs they’ve had to make in prioritizing which applications or data sources are mission-critical and, therefore, protected first in case of disaster vs. business-critical and best-effort applications and data that may not get the same level of protection and recoverability.

Why is disaster recovery needed?

Disasters happen. They’re caused by insider threats and external cybercriminals, natural occurrences like weather, and human error. Not having a DR plan that can be put into action at a moment’s notice by a DR or DRaaS solution, can put your organization at risk of losing revenue, employee productivity, and customer goodwill.

Indeed, creating—and routinely testing—your DR plan and solution provides a competitive edge in a world in which many businesses have no such plan in place. You can continue to deliver goods and services to customers. You can operate in a “business as usual” manner in the face of disaster, potentially growing customer and revenue opportunities.

What should you consider when choosing a DRaaS?

Not all DRaaS solutions offer the same level of protection for your data and applications. Here are some of the questions you should consider when choosing a DRaaS solution:

  • How will it help you meet your Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) with the SLAs offered by the DRaaS provider?
  • How can you leverage your existing investments in DR technology? Does your provider charge for recovery or egress fees?
  • How comprehensive is the DRaaS offering? For example, does it offer orchestration, snapshot-based backup, near-sync replication, and seamless failover to public clouds within one service?
  • How easy is it to manage the DRaaS environment? Can you do it via a single console?
  • Are testing drills performed by the provider? Can you run tests internally?
  • After declaring a disaster, how long does it take for your solution to fail over to your provider? How long does it take to fail back once the issue is resolved?
  • Does your solution take advantage of pay-as-you-go cloud infrastructure to reduce costs (or is it a more complicated cost-sharing pricing scheme)?
  • How many of the DR management tasks do you have to take on versus which functions are the responsibility of the DRaaS provider?

What is an example of how DRaaS works?

If you have a DRaaS solution prior to a disaster striking, it will replicate and store all your VMs, applications, and data in the cloud. When a disaster occurs—say a hurricane results in flooding that damages your primary data center—you would use your DRaaS solution provider to fail over to another infrastructure, using either a private or, more likely, public cloud platform as the failover target.

This means that your IT environment keeps functioning while you fix the problems caused by the flooding. Your DRaaS provider enables remote access to data and applications, so even if the normal place of work is affected, employees can get to the digital resources they need from their homes or other sites. The DRaaS provider can help automate the failback task, assisting you as you get ready to resume normal operations.

What is the difference between BaaS and DRaaS?

Backup as a Service (BaaS) replicates, stores, and secures your data files and servers to the cloud, including operating systems, applications, data, and user configurations. DRaaS can do the same but also adds the ability to replicate another copy of the data and services to an offsite location and provide orchestration and automation for the failover and failback processes.

In the case of a serious disaster, BaaS will have saved all your data—but it often requires a manual recovery process to rebuild your systems and data. DRaaS, on the other hand, will allow you to continue operations within hours or even minutes by failing over to the offsite location and infrastructure. You will have your servers, applications, data, and user settings back in place. Even if physical servers are destroyed due to a flood or fire, the server image can be loaded on a virtual machine (VM), enabling the business to continue with minimal disruption.

What is a disaster recovery system?

A disaster recovery system is the combination of technology, methods, and processes that an organization puts in place to allow it to continue operating in case of a disaster. It is used to regain access to and restore the functionality of an IT environment—including servers, operating systems, applications, data, and user settings—after natural or man-made events that cause the environment to fail. It does this by replicating the organization’s IT environment, either in physical infrastructure or, increasingly, in the cloud via DRaaS. After the crisis is over, the DR system restores all data and applications to resume operations as usual.

What is disaster recovery in BPO?

BPO, or business process outsourcing, occurs when an organization contracts with an external service provider to run portions of its business, such as IT-based processes. The provider is responsible for meeting SLAs that ensure the business process(es) in question are performed in a timely manner. DR is an essential aspect of BPO, as the provider is responsible for keeping process(es) functioning in the event of a disaster.

Cohesity and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

Maintaining business continuity is a top enterprise challenge as crippling ransomware attacks against companies worldwide and natural disasters increase. Cohesity DRaaS is a strategic offering from the company’s comprehensive Data Management as a Service (DMaaS) portfolio, enabling companies to keep their businesses up and running with near-zero downtime and data loss.
Cohesity DRaaS, or Cohesity Disaster Recovery as a Service, simplifies and democratizes DR to the cloud by delivering it as a service and reducing the cost of maintaining secondary infrastructure. It eliminates all the disparate DR services, solutions, and administrative consoles that organizations have traditionally had to invest in for DR—not to mention all the infrastructure and the resources required to support that infrastructure. All DR functions are now hosted and managed by Cohesity in the public cloud.

By extending the DR capabilities provided by Cohesity SiteContinuity, the Cohesity DRaaS solution allows organizations to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a recovery location for failover and failback in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. In addition to offering more flexibility, this offers businesses other benefits:

  • Minimize downtime and data loss — The Cohesity DRaaS solution minimizes the risks of downtime and data loss with snapshot-based backup and near-sync replication. Together, these features help make sure all data is replicated, stored, and ready to fail over if a disaster strikes.
  • Meet SLAs — With Cohesity DRaaS, organizations can easily design their individual recovery plans in minutes, not weeks, and assign SLAs to ensure resiliency and to continue meeting all business requirements in case of disaster.
  • Simplify operations — The solution from Cohesity is comprehensive, as it combines DR orchestration, snapshot-based backup, near-sync replication, and seamless failover to the public cloud in a single offering. Organizations can manage this through a single user interface to significantly simplify DR operations.
  • Reduce costs and improve time-to-value — Cohesity DRaaS dramatically lowers costs by eliminating the need for organizations to buy, configure, and manage their own DR infrastructures—hardware and software that remain idle most of the time. By using pay-as-you-go cloud infrastructure from AWS, Cohesity supports standard AWS infrastructure, such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which speeds up time to value for organizations by allowing them to quickly spin up DR strategies on demand without having to wait while procuring and configuring additional hardware or physical data centers.

The Cohesity hyperscale, converged backup and DR solution offers an essential set of capabilities to combat the ransomware, cyber crime, internal threats, and potential natural disasters that businesses face today.

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