The result of a survey about disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) during a recent webinar was very illuminating. In my opinion, it suggests most people responding to the survey had not yet actually tried such a service.
First, let me say that I would never suggest that DRaaS services are perfect, or even that all DRaaS services work properly. My experience in this space suggests completely the opposite. Many disaster recovery and backup software vendors often fail to take environmental factors into play when designing their product. This means their products will most certainly fail in some situations.
There are a number of examples of this, but let me just give one. Many products work just fine as long as you do not have a very high change rate or a large number of servers being protected. Change one of these variables and the system is not able to keep up. Either it cannot replicate the data off-site fast enough, or it does not have enough horsepower to virtualize your entire data center in a full disaster.
Which brings me back to the survey, where a significant portion of the people were concerned about whether or not the recovery would recover everything or even if it would work. Even if it would work, a significant portion of the respondents weren’t sure if it would work fast enough.
Not knowing if the system is up to the task was a perfectly valid concern 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. This is because most companies did not have the facilities to do a full disaster recovery test. I personally worked for a $35 billion company that was unable to justify such a test. Once every six months we would pretend that a single application was down and recover it. That experience was so costly and painful that we never even dreamed of doing a full test. Based on how well the tests usually went, it was perfectly understandable that most of us were not sure we would be able to successfully recover in a disaster.
But people using DRaaS products do not have that excuse. Because IT can automate a recovery, there is absolutely no excuse for not performing regular disaster recovery tests. In fact, many of these services perform tests for you automatically, allowing you to have an incredible piece of mind about your ability to recover from a disaster. The whole point of DRaaS is that recovering from a disaster is as simple as pressing a few buttons. The server and network infrastructure is in place, and the data is already there. You simply need to turn on the VMs. If it’s that easy, then you should be able to test it any time you want. If it’s not that easy, then perhaps you should try a different DRaaS product.
Which brings me back to my opening paragraph. People who do not know whether or not a DRaaS service will do the job for them simply haven’t tried such a service, or they tried the wrong one. Prove me wrong. Try a few of these services and tell me why they won’t work for you. I would love to hear from you, and frankly, so would the vendors. If you are using a DRaaS service and aren’t sure if it will work in a disaster, why is that? Are you not performing regular DR testing? There is simply no excuse for not doing regular full DR testing anymore.