What is Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service… and do you need it?

Imagine for a minute that a disaster strikes your business. Perhaps a fire breaks out in your building. Or it could be a concerted cyber-attack. Maybe a nearby riverbank breaks, flooding your server room. Whatever the cause, these sorts of events can be hugely disruptive, preventing your staff from working, losing you customers, and damaging your reputation.

And this is what Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) is designed to avoid. So, what exactly is DRaaS, how does it work, and do you really need it?

What is DRaaS?

DRaaS is a cloud service that enables companies to back up their data, infrastructure, computers, users and networks in a virtual environment. There are various flavours of DRaaS, but essentially it is about replicating your company’s entire IT environment in a third-party cloud. This means that if disaster ever were to strike, you could very quickly access a ‘replica’ of your original environment – and staff could carry on working much as they did before.

Since DRaaS basically ‘copies’ your company’s IT to a third-party cloud (sometimes in servers around the world) latency can be an issue, as the content might be physically further away. All the same, it is a lot better than having nothing at all, and means you can start working pretty much as before in a matter of minutes.

Once you have configured your DRaaS solution (you would normally need to work quite closely with a DRaaS provider to ensure that the replica environment actually functions), it is essentially a case of paying a subscription to maintain it. You’ll also need to continually back data up in the cloud environment.

How is DRaaS different to Backup-as-a-Service?

The basic difference between DRaaS and Backup-as-a-Service is that the latter is mainly focused on making copies of your data (documents, spreadsheets, records, etc.). In this model, you will still have access to all your files and content should a disaster strike, but it might not be in the same structure that you’re used to. You also won’t automatically get all your software, systems and networks backed up either.

With DRaaS, you’re essentially getting a mirror image of your company’s IT. As you can imagine, the cost of backing up an entire system with DRaaS is significantly higher than ‘just’ backing up your data.

Related: Why your business needs to back up cloud data

What are the benefits of Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service?

DRaaS is much more expensive than the standard cloud back-up, or more traditional data backup strategies (i.e. recording your company’s files to some kind of hard disk).

Nevertheless, there are some fairly compelling reasons to consider DRaaS:

  • It is comprehensive
    DRaaS really is the ‘full works’. You get a cloud environment that is almost identical to your existing IT system (be that on-premises, in a private cloud, or some kind of hybrid), which you can log into and start using right away. It’s got everything you need to keep working smoothly and seamlessly, and makes your business almost impervious to IT disruption.
  • The costs of disaster are enormous
    Calculating exactly how much a disaster would cost a business is very difficult, yet according to one study from the US, a disaster that made accessing all IT systems impossible could cost small businesses between $137 and $427 per minute. This seems like a lot, but if we factor in lost productivity for, say, 80 staff, customer churn, delays and even fines, it starts to seem plausible. And this is where a DRaaS system would come into its own. Within minutes, all your staff would be up and running again, almost as if nothing had happened.
  • Peace of mind… and insurance
    DRaaS is, ultimately, a form of insurance – in that it gives you the confidence that your company is protected against the worst kinds of disruption. But it could also benefit your business’s actual insurance premiums. If you have a DRaaS system in place, insurers would view this positively since it means you’d be less likely to need to make a claim.

Do you really need DRaaS?

As noted above, DRaaS is really the creme de la creme of business back up. Deciding if it really is necessary ultimately depends on your company, how it works, and your attitude to risk. That being said, there are certain sectors, types of business, and operating models where it is clearly more valuable than others.

For example, a relatively small business with flexible deadlines (think small publishing companies, marketing agencies or recruitment firms) might be able to get by with more basic approaches to data backup. While a disaster would still be highly disruptive to these businesses, it would often be fairly straightforward to find alternative ways of working so long as they still had their data at hand. Similarly, companies whose IT is entirely cloud-based may simply not need DRaaS – their cloud provider will already offer recovery for their systems.

On the other hand, larger businesses, those that are consumer facing, as well as those in critical sectors (such as healthcare or finance), could really benefit from DRaaS. In any sector where speed, money, or health are involved, the ability to quickly access your systems is vital. This is especially true for companies that are heavily reliant on on-premises IT systems, servers and networks.

Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service with FITTS

At FITTS, we provide a DRaaS service (as well as general backup solutions) to a wide variety of businesses and public sector organisations in the UK, Europe and Africa. If you are considering DRaaS for your organisation, or are unsure which data backup strategy is right for you, contact us today and our consultants can walk you through the options available to your business.