Every now and again a technology comes along that leapfrogs over the status quo by making better use of more modern, cost-effective technologies.
A popular example of this was the adoption of mobile phones in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2002, roughly one-in-ten owned a mobile phone in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Ghana. Since then, cell phone ownership has grown exponentially. Today, mobile phones are as common in South Africa and Nigeria as they are in the United States. This transformation in communication technology allowed Africans to skip the landline stage and jump right to the digital age.
Normally, a leapfrogging technology enables developing countries to catch up to more modern countries by adopting adaptable technologies that can be cost-effectively and easily used without propping up expensive infrastructure.
I think cloud-based disaster recover (or DRaaS) offers the same promise. DRaaS enables companies of all sizes, located across most geographies, to benefit from near-instant data recovery – the type of high availability historically reserved for the largest of enterprises. Like the mobile phones in Africa, DRaas equips companies with limited budgets to leapfrog over historical tape backup and hot site failover solutions.
Let’s talk about tape backups. A good chunk of the Western world still relies heavily on tape backup. In fact, 44% of survey respondents (aimed at US CIOs) said that they still rely on external drives (like tape) for their backup needs. Like landline phones, proponents of tape backup cling to the medium because it’s what they know and what they understand.
Tape backup still has its place, but the use cases are dwindling. For medium-term retention of very large data sets – where access times of hours or days are acceptable, tape can play a role. But, tape backups still suffer from media corruption, inaccessibility, slow recovery times, and relatively high expense to deploy and manage on a day-to-day basis.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are high availability solutions. These are the types of solutions – offered by companies such as IBM, CenturyLink, and Sunguard—that can deliver instantaneous failover if a critical server crashes or there’s some type of man-made or natural disaster. Unfortunately, these solutions are really, really expensive.
They require redundant infrastructure at a second site. They require extra bandwidth. They require seasoned IT professionals who can manage multiple sites, and they often require expensive professional services contracts from the solution providers to successfully implement them. These high availability solutions are vital for e-commerce companies and other organizations where system uptime is imperative (i.e., every second of downtime costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue). But, for most companies that have less stringent RTOs, this level of availability is just over kill — given the price tag that is associated with high availability solutions.
Now, here comes DRaaS.
Cloud-based disaster recovery changes the game and eliminates the traditional infrastructure costs and learning curves associated with tape backup and high availability solutions.
Over the last few years, SMBs have led the way in cloud backup adoption, beginning with simple, file backup to the cloud and continuing on with more sophisticated backup applications for faster backup and restore of large datasets. Now mid-sized businesses and enterprises are getting involved in the cloud for data protection and disaster recovery, testing and application failover.
For many fast growing companies, the cloud lets them leapfrog over traditional backup, archiving, and disaster recovery solutions. Cloud solutions are now more cost effective, more accessible (restoring files in seconds vs. hours), more dependable, and even more secure. With the introduction of cloud-based failover, more and more organizations are adopting these solutions without seriously considering tape or high-availability solutions (which can cost as much as 5x that of a modern DRaaS solution).
Cloud-based failover is particularly attractive for highly virtualized environments. Cloud-based failover can spin up a virtual data center in the cloud while admins repair disaster-related damages in the data center. When onsite hosts are back up and running, the cloud can restore to the primary, production machines/infrastructure without any complicated steps or loss of work.
It’s time to say goodbye to the landline. Say goodbye to tape. And say hello to DRaaS and a fundamentally new approach to disaster recovery. DRaaS dramatically improves recovery time and reliability, while driving initial and ongoing costs down.
For resource-constrained organizations looking for a simple and cost effective disaster recovery solution and a strategic competitive advantage, it’s time to leapfrog the old and adopt DRaaS to protect their data and critical uptime.