The Dirty Little Secret about DRaaS

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is a game changer for many, cloud backup as a service providers. The service enables organizations to stand up instances of their mission critical applications in the provider’s cloud instead of recovering them across an internet connection. The problem is, unless the plan is to stay in the provider’s cloud forever, organizations need a plan to return operations to their primary data center.

Most DRaaS vendors provide only one option, trickle the data back across the network for potentially weeks, until everything is back in the primary data center. Some vendors also apply a significant egress charge.

These time consuming and potentially expensive options are the dirty DRaaS secret. Additionally, most DRaaS vendors make no performance guarantees for the recovered applications. Lastly, many DRaaS providers increase charges for used compute the longer the application is running in their data center.

The Problem with a Cloud Exit

Disaster recovery planners looking to use the cloud for disaster recovery also need to plan an exit strategy. All providers have to deal with the reality of bandwidth. A large restore even with high-speed bandwidth will take a long time. Most vendors use data shuttles to help customers send them data but the overwhelming majority don’t use those same appliances to ship data back to the customers. Additionally, even high capacity NAS systems won’t easily transport petabytes of customer data. The customer choices are to either trickle data back to the data center or give up on using the cloud under the assumption that they are too big for it.

A Way Home

Tape remains one of the best ways to transport massive amounts of data. Most enterprises and large businesses continue use tape libraries as a long-term backup and archive repository. The problem is that most cloud providers and managed service providers don’t support tape for data ingest or egress.

IT planners whose organizations utilize tape, should look for providers that also support tape. Tape support for ingest and egress is a cost effective and reliable way to move petabytes of data. The organization can leverage the cloud (DRaaS) for quick recovery of critical applications while it waits for the shipment and recovery of tape based data.

However, some organizations don’t have tape libraries. These organizations need to move their petabytes of data either via a NAS transfer appliance or a high-speed network connection. Remember that many cloud providers use these appliances to transfer the initial data set to the cloud but few cloud providers use the same transfer appliances to move data out of the cloud.

IT planners need to look for cloud providers that leverage appliances not only to populate data in the cloud but also for recoveries. Ideally, the provider will copy data to the appliance and then quick ship it to the customer. As is the case with tape, the customer could use DRaaS initially to recover while the cloud provider ships the appliance back to them.

High-speed connections are also a problem. Most organizations only need top end bandwidth for the initial data transfer or for recovery. The problem is that most network connections are an all or nothing proposition.

IT planners should look for cloud providers that leverage Megaport, which provides on-demand bandwidth. Now organizations can buy the bandwidth they need for the initial cloud ingest, then decrease bandwidth for day-to-day updates and increase bandwidth again if they require a full restore.

StorageSwiss Take

Disaster recovery in the cloud has many advantages but at some point, most organizations will want to resume operations in their data center. Many DRaaS vendors lack a cohesive plan to help customers get their data back to their data center, providing only a trickle down approach. IT planners need to discuss with cloud providers how they will help them resume operations in their data center. IT planners with large data sets need to look for providers that can help them transport massive amounts of data so they can return to operating in the data center as quickly as possible.

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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One comment on “The Dirty Little Secret about DRaaS
  1. This is not a dirty secret for us. We offer fail-back. If the primary site doesn’t lose all the data we can re-sync the new data to the old. If the DR site is used for a week then only a weeks worth of data change is sent back to the production site. In the case of site disaster where the production site lost all data, we would “reverse seed” and send copies of the VM’s on portable media so it can be loaded at the production site while still operating in the DR site. Then we re-sync back to the reverse seeded copies and fail back.

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