Data backup is a challenge and successful recovery can be even more difficult. IT environments are becoming increasingly fragmented, especially with data living on-premises, on endpoints, in clouds and in SaaS applications. In today’s always-on world, organizations strive to meet specific SLAs around recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) as defined by business, industry and regulatory requirements. RTOs are increasingly shrinking, with goals being set in hours, if not minutes.

With businesses facing increased demands for recovery, evaluating available technologies to determine the best fit to meet their company’s unique needs is vital. In response to burgeoning demands, vendors and service providers are now offering Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), which is designed to equip organizations with the resources and expertise to automate, accelerate and simplify the recovery of mission-critical applications individually or at scale. In this blog, we will discuss five reasons to consider DRaaS for business continuity.

1) Meet the RTOs of Today’s Business Demands

Disasters, both natural and human-made, have the potential to wreak havoc and bring businesses to a grinding halt. Therefore, defining a recovery time objective is a vital step in a company’s BCDR plan. The RTO must be achievable (often validated by testing) to ensure mission-critical business processes and IT applications are quickly available and accessible to minimize the impact of an outage or disaster.

DRaaS provides a faster means to recovery by leveraging data replication, orchestration and automation to meet aggressive RTOs. Service providers help implement DRaaS in a turnkey manner by providing the foundational technology, services and support for hosting disaster recovery. Geographic redundancy protects against large-scale outages caused by weather or other natural disasters (e.g., the Texas storm). DRaaS providers, like Unitrends, enable businesses to automatically run recovery tests to determine how an outage would impact business continuity and how much data a business might lose.

DRaaS providers have cloud data centers specifically tuned for backup and DR use cases, well-provisioned to receive inbound backup jobs, run recovery testing and host failed over instances. Some providers carve out replicas or use other techniques to have the environment ready for a failover declaration to meet near-zero RTOs. In addition to hosting recovery, providers such as Unitrends offer built-in Recovery Assurance, which performs automated DR testing that organizations can use to document and prove to internal stakeholders, customers and auditors that the DRaaS solution meets SLAs and compliance requirements.

2) Less Management and Maintenance

DRaaS gained momentum and popularity in the SMB space, where small IT teams lacked expertise, budget, time or a combination thereof. This is because DRaaS is cost-effective and easy to implement and manage. Many service providers do the heavy lifting — from installation and implementation to failover and recovery of service as well as assisting with failback to your primary data center when ready.

Depending on the scope of recovery a business requires, DRaaS providers can deploy the solution in just a few hours or days, which is significantly less when compared with setting up a secondary disaster recovery site, which can take weeks or even months.

DRaaS as a solution greatly reduces the costs of traditional off-site DR functions, including leased space, staffing, ISP costs, infrastructure, utilities (power, cooling, electricity), software and hardware, which under normal circumstances would remain unused unless there was a significant disaster.

DRaaS eliminates the need to research, implement and fully test a traditional disaster recovery plan since service providers conduct DR tests at regular intervals to ensure the disaster recovery plan will work as expected. Much of the burden of planning for a disaster shifts from internal IT to the service provider. This frees up IT to pursue more strategic initiatives.

3) Guaranteed Recovery SLAs

Contractual SLAs guarantee defined RTOs and RPOs will be met in the event of a disaster or an outage. Service providers’ techniques, preparation and testing ensure these can be met and report RTAs (recovery time actuals) to customers for proof and confidence. This gives businesses peace of mind that mission-critical assets and functions will remain available and operational after an unplanned disruption.

Additionally, geographical distribution and resilience ensures data is replicated and highly available in multiple data centers, owned and managed by the service provider. Replication to a data center in a different region (typically within the same country, to maintain data sovereignty) helps guard against disruptive events, such as power outages, cyberattacks and natural disasters, that could impact access to a primary data center. Cloud data centers are staffed 24/7/365 and are prepared for declaration at any time.

In some cases, recovery times and service tiers may vary depending upon the capabilities and the type of solutions a service provider uses. Businesses must ensure their service providers’ SLAs meet their expectations. Critical assets and IT applications may only tolerate a few hours of acceptable downtime while others may have the capacity to be down for several days without impacting the business. Determining these factors will help businesses choose the right service provider and aid in prioritizing recoveries.

4) Take Advantage of Provider Expertise

With DRaaS, businesses not only get the benefits of having a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place, but they also benefit from the rich experience of the service providers. DRaaS vendors are like an additional resource with specialized skillsets to a company’s IT team, which also eliminates the need for DR as a core competency of internal IT. Provider expertise in business continuity and disaster recovery helps businesses quickly get back up and running with minimal or no downtime when the unexpected happens.

DRaaS vendors are typically well-versed in creating and testing DR plans. Regular testing ensures recoverability, including validation of application and services levels. They specifically tune their operations to meet this use case for customers.

A third party also helps assure that backups are comprehensive — systems are being protected in ways that will meet the required recovery objectives (i.e., image level backups, replicas). Businesses can rely on the extensive experience of DRaaS vendors to customize their recovery plans as per their specific organizational requirements. That way, they aren’t stuck with one approach, which enables them to leverage the OS, platforms and other tools that are right for their business’ needs.

From a security perspective, DRaaS vendors with private cloud infrastructure provides more secure data infrastructure, including private networks, encryption and immutable storage, as well as physical controls, such as biometric scanners, CCTV monitoring and more, to regulate access to only authorized personnel.

5) Cost-Effective and Flexible

The main advantages of a Disaster Recovery as a Service model are cost-effectiveness and flexibility. For businesses, DRaaS offers a much more affordable alternative to hosting a private disaster recovery site and deploying additional IT staff for emergencies. If disasters don’t happen, the secondary infrastructure and staffing may never be utilized. By using DRaaS, businesses don’t have to worry about owning resources or managing DR since service providers take care of them. With DRaaS, companies only pay for the services they use, which cuts down costs significantly.

Many vendors provide DRaaS via monthly or yearly subscription plans, which is especially important for small and midsized businesses who often operate with limited IT budgets. This allows businesses to transition from a capital expense to an operating expense model.

Another important benefit of DRaaS is seamless scalability. Since DRaaS is hardware-independent, it allows businesses to upgrade or downgrade services efficiently depending on their needs.   

Additionally, DRaaS vendors offer a la carte licensing, enabling businesses to enroll only mission-critical machines needed to resume key revenue-driving operations (i.e., domain controller, ERP or webhost/e-commerce server host), or enroll entire data centers to maintain service availability across all departments and functions.

DRaaS also allows businesses to mix and match SLAs (typically tied to an RTO) to meet their company’s unique objectives. For instance, combining mission-critical systems, such as financial and POS systems with a 1-hr RTO SLA and file shares for marketing/design department with a 24-hour RTO SLA.

Unitrends DRaaS: Effortless Disaster Recovery for Modern Businesses

Ensuring uptime and application availability in the event of a disaster and meeting compliance requirements for data retention are some of the challenges businesses constantly face. However, most businesses don’t have the budget or the resources to manage a secondary disaster recovery site.

This is where Unitrends Cloud comes in. Our backup appliances connect to the Unitrends Cloud for long-term retention and disaster recovery spin-up, practically without even lifting a finger. Built-in compliance reporting automatically tests and compares recovery testing actuals with client RPOs and RTOs. This gives businesses complete confidence in recoveries so they can run their business no matter what comes their way. Unitrends offers flexible, cost-efficient DRaaS options based on how fast organizations need to recover their applications.

Visit Unitrends to avail the protection your business needs at a cost you can afford.

About Adam Marget

Adam is a Technical Specialist on the Unitrends marketing team supporting digital and in-market events. Over the last 4 years with Unitrends, he has been delighted at the opportunity to work with customers, prospects, and partners alike to help solve challenges around data protection and business continuity. Adam joined Unitrends in 2016, bringing with him experience working with variety of manufacturers’ technology from edge to core as a coworker from national IT solutions provider CDW.