Trusting and Testing DRaaS

Many organizations count on a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solution to enable them to bounce back quickly if a disaster strikes their primary data center. DRaaS saves organizations the expenses associated with investing in and equipping a disaster recovery site, making it one of the most effective uses of cloud resources. With the exception of organizations large enough to have a secondary data center which acts as a DR site, all organizations should use some form of DRaaS for their DR Strategy.

Trusting DRaaS

The risk of a cloud failure creates a trust issue with any cloud service an organization might use. A DR plan must work or the organization may go out of business. To cost justify a DRaaS investment the organization needs to eliminate its current DR site and count solely on the DRaaS provider. The criticality of a DR plan working requires the organization’s complete trust in the provider as well as the provider’s ability to handle the DRaaS operations reliably and in a timely manner.

Organizations also need confidence in the provider’s ability to provide the necessary compute to run the organization’s applications in the event of a failure. The DRaaS provider and the organization need to work together to ensure networking configurations and operations, seamlessly transfer to the provider if the primary data center becomes unavailable.

Getting Started

The organization needs to develop trust in the DRaaS solution as quickly as possible so it can disassemble its internal DR site with confidence. Using the DRaaS solution first as a backup solution, in parallel to current DR processes, provides a low risk starting point. Disaster Recovery requires the latest copy of data. If the backup component of DRaaS can’t successfully and consistently feed data to the provider, then recovery becomes moot.

Next, IT needs to test recovery. DRaaS has a reputation for its ease of testing. DRaaS no longer requires purchasing test servers and flying to test facilities. IT can perform recovery tests without leaving their office. Many DRaaS vendors promote a push-button recovery making testing straightforward. IT needs to make sure networking properly reroutes to the DR site, so logging in as a user to test application connectivity is critical.

At some point, IT needs to perform a real-world recovery when the pressure of unproductive users is uncertain. In most cases the first real-world recovery won’t be a full data center failure, instead it will be the recovery of a single server or storage system.

Many DRaaS vendors provide an on-premises recovery capability in addition to cloud. Usually an on-premises disk appliance, storing the most recent backups, provides the source for on-premises recovery. Typically, IT performs the restoration by restoring data from the appliance to the storage system to which that application attaches. During recovery, IT also needs to replace any failed hardware components (disks or servers).

Transferring data and replacing hardware takes time. Instead of spending time recovering the old way, IT can leverage the DRaaS solution. IT can start the application in the provider’s cloud and fail the most impacted users over to it. The application failure verifies the time it takes for the cloud version of the application to be available and if networking configurations transferred to the provider correctly. If the failover to DRaaS works, IT sees how the provider’s compute performs under a real world workload.

Testing this way also enables IT to measure the potential for the DRaaS solution to replace some of its investments in high availability. The failover time may be fast enough that the organization can limit high availability investments to only a few critical applications.

Destruction and complete loss of the primary data center provides the decisive test of the DR plan. Simulating a complete data center failure to capture the true stress of the situation, can prove challenging. Using DRaaS for recovery from a real application outage minimizes the impact but simulates the stress.

StorageSwiss Take

Organizations not yet on the DRaaS bandwagon, may want to take a step back and look for a demonstration of DRaaS capabilities. Most IT professionals are beyond the “what is DRaaS stage” and are moving towards “how do I use DRaaS.”

In our on demand webinar, Storage Switzerland and Infrascale provide a demonstration of DRaaS. Registrants will see a demo of disaster recovery using DRaaS. Join us to see the demo and get all your DRaaS questions answered.

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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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