Almost every data center needs to test operating system updates and new code releases. A DRaaS solution can meet the need. The problem is these testing needs require a copy of the server being tested with a most recent copy of data on it. Not only is it hard for organizations to dedicate the physical server, networking and storage to this task, but it is also hard to dedicate the time required to position copies of data on an ongoing basis. The good news is Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solves these difficulties.
The Requirements for Testing
The requirements for testing will vary slightly depending on what exactly the organization needs to test. For example, an operating system patch will require a server or instance of a server running the operating system being updated. But a faulty operating system update might not be immediately apparent and testing one server with the update is not enough. Ideally the update is tested across a range of servers for at least a few days.
An application update is more focused than an operating system update. One server or instance may be enough. But in most cases the test will require a more thorough testing. In some cases, the best testing method is to bring the potential new version online in production and let real users actually perform their normal activities with the application. The problem is if something goes wrong, the organization needs a way to revert back to the previous version very quickly.
Finally, there is the need for an on-going development environment that application programmers can use as they go through the development process before the code is ready for the broader testing described above. Once again, this situation requires a server or servers available with a recent copy of the data enabling the developer to create as real world solution as possible.
How Can DRaaS Help?
At its core a DRaaS solution needs two features that also help it to become an ideal platform for testing and development. First, the DRaaS solution has to be be able to protect (make a copy) of data frequently. Typically frequent backups are accomplished by performing sub-file or block-based backups. Primarily, they need this capability so they can update the cloud-based copy of data by transmitting very small batches of changes. The capability also allows them to perform backups as often as every 15 minutes or less.
For testing and development, the frequency that DRaaS can perform a backup is ideal. It means the testing and developing process can work with a very recent copy of data.
The second important feature is the ability to host a virtual instance of a server or servers, which is inherent in almost every DRaaS solution. But the hosting of those servers has to be seamless. If the test environment or the developer has to wait for data to be copied to another location before the virtual server can start then much of the advantage is lost. Ideally, this instantiation of the virtual server can happen on-premises as well as in the cloud. Most DRaaS solutions use an on-premises appliance to collect data, it makes sense then to also use this appliance to host application during test, development and of course disaster.
In most cases, data protection and disaster recovery is looked on as insurance policies. But with a solution like DRaaS, that use case can expand to more proactive and cost savings uses like eliminating the need for a secondary server and separate copy data management solutions.
To learn more about what DRaaS can do beyond just disaster recovery, check out our on demand webinar “DRaaS – It’s Not Just For Disasters Anymore“.