Cloud Computing Outlook

How DRaaS Is Transforming Disaster Recovery

By Walt Thomasson, Managing Director, Rentsys Recovery Services

Walt Thomasson, Managing Director, Rentsys Recovery Services

When the cloud first started gaining recognition in the mid- to late 2000s, it was met with skepticism and security concerns. What if hackers accessed data in the cloud? What if sensitive data was leaked? What if something went wrong with the cloud infrastructure and the data vanished?

“By strategically integrating diverse workloads into a hybrid infrastructure, businesses can reduce capital expenditures and decrease deployment times for certain workloads.”

Eventually, though, that stigma began subsiding, and businesses—mainly large enterprises and start-ups—began vaulting data in public clouds. They praised the cloud for how easy it was to use and, in some cases, how cost-effective it was compared to the expense of moving data to tapes or maintaining a colocation site.

Today, the average organization has 4.9 services in the colud, according to a 2016 survey by cloud services organization Evolve IP. In fact, 80 percent of IT professionals said they believe storing data in the cloud provides better protection against hardware malfunctions and environmental disasters than on-premise systems.

But several years ago we noticed a problem: Businesses were moving data to the cloud and checking DR off their to-do lists without creating a legitimate recovery strategy. We, along with other disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) providers, realized that in addition to vaulting customers’ data in the cloud, cloud providers needed to help businesses recover their data to physical hardware, virtual machines or another cloud environment. We’ve seen firsthand how this approach has changed the way enterprises manage DR, and it will continue to do so in the future.

Why DRaaS Is Sticking Around

Global research company Markets and Markets projects that the DRaaS market is expected to experience a compounded annual growth rate of 55.2 percent from 2013 to 2018. In looking at the key benefits DRaaS is helping businesses achieve, it’s clear why DRaaS is here to stay.

1.Enterprises Can Manage the Data Boom Without Wasting Budgets on Protecting Unimportant Data.

With developments such as big data, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies and compliance requirements, businesses are experiencing an exponential increase in the amount of data they have to manage. A study by Gigaom Research, in fact, indicates that enterprise data is growing  40 to 60 percent a year.

DRaaS helps mitigate this growth by providing the flexibility needed to meet enterprises’ data recovery needs. Not all data needs to be retained, so an organization can classify data based on criticality. The business can then determine each category’s separate recovery time objectives (RTOs). For example, the organization might find that its RTO for critical functions is 0-4 hours, while RTOs for less critical functions are less than 24 hours.

As capacity grows, businesses can leverage various cloud models, such as private or public clouds. When recovery is necessary, data stored in the cloud can be restored to virtual machines (more on that in point three).

2.Businesses Can Better Meet Regulatory Requirements for Data Handling.

Businesses often have difficulty keeping up with constantly changing regulatory requirements. Having gone through the rigorous process of achieving AT 101, SOC 2 Type II attestation, we understand how complicated it is to adhere to regulatory requirements. To track regulatory changes, some businesses—especially those in financial services or other heavily regulated industries—hire dedicated compliance program managers. The problem is that companies are reporting a shortage in regulatory program manager talent.

DRaaS helps businesses meet regulatory requirements, because the provider manages the customer’s data in accordance with service level agreements tied to service delivery. This alleviates the management burden on security and BC/DR professionals. In addition, by working with an experienced DRaaS provider, the enterprise can actually improve the security of its data, since the vendor is immersed in data management on a day-to-day basis and is able to maintain a pulse on emerging security threats.

The key is to select a DRaaS provider that can meet or exceed industry and federal compliance requirements and has experience serving companies that require specific controls (e.g., financial and healthcare organizations).

3.Organizations Can Use Hybrid Infrastructures to Integrate Diverse Workloads.

While hybrid environments posed logistical challenges in the past, that’s changing as cloud providers recognize the demand for hybrid deployments. By strategically integrating diverse workloads into a hybrid infrastructure, businesses can reduce capital expenditures and decrease deployment times for certain workloads.

Businesses can manage workloads in the environment that works best for their needs (e.g., on-premise, off-premise, private cloud, public cloud, virtual). For example, the public cloud is ideal for data analytics and seasonal demands. Critical workloads, on the other hand, may have certain sets of data, parameters or types of software associated with them. These types of workloads might need to be managed locally to ensure connectivity, minimize bandwidth requirements and keep costs down.

When it comes to data replication and recovery, many DRaaS solutions accommodate replication to and from multiple recovery environments. For instance, businesses can choose to replicate data from a virtual environment to the cloud and recover the environment to virtual machines. Or the organization might replicate data to an on-site data vaulting appliance and recover the environment in the cloud.

This flexibility allows an organization to redistribute its workloads to maximize its budget and become more agile.

As people’s attitudes toward the cloud continue to change, DRaaS will enable enterprises to meet business objectives more efficiently. They’ll be able to handle burgeoning data cost-effectively, meet RTOs, fulfill regulatory obligations and redistribute workloads in a way that makes sense for the business.

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