This may sound like a familiar situation: You have the latest and greatest disaster recovery software available. You have carefully designed processes in place to monitor the system, to be sure that the backup jobs run when scheduled and all your data is protected. Your system supports Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) to dissimilar hardware, so you will be able to restore your systems on new hardware, if needed. All this gives you 100% confidence that, in the event of a disaster, you can recover all your systems and get your infrastructure back up and running. Sounds like your data protection plan is on point, but even assuming that you can recover these critical systems just as expected, we have some news for you. You’re still not properly protecting your business.
The problem arises from the fact that traditional disaster recovery was originally developed even prior to internet, when the pace of business was slow as a snail compared to today’s standards. Businesses could accept a longer Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Systems were less complex, which aided in making traditional disaster recovery an acceptable solution. The transaction rate of most businesses would allow a down time of a few hours with little problem, and even a day or two with some inconvenience. In today’s world, not only would such disruptions in vital systems be unacceptable, but the complexity of modern systems would add to the recovery time afforded by typical disaster recovery solutions. What is needed is a modern disaster recovery solution, that also provides business continuity functionality, at a price that everyone can afford.
In the past, disaster recovery solutions were so costly and sophisticated that only the largest companies had the financial resources to afford them (not to mention the staff to operate them). Only the “big guys” were able to benefit from virtual non-stop operation of their IT infrastructure. At the time, most disaster recovery systems consisted of duplicate environments idling along with a team to manage the failover — should the need arise. Fortunately, technology evolved, and thanks to virtualization, orchestration, deduped file systems and the cloud, true business continuity is now available within the budget of companies of any size.
To get a better idea of the difference between legacy disaster recovery and today’s DRaaS solutions, let’s examine the workflow differences between the two solutions once a failure occurs. The goal of a traditional disaster recovery solution is to allow the restoration of individual systems back to physical or virtual hardware from some type of backup. The problem with this approach is several fold:
- It is focused on the individual systems and not the entire infrastructure. This means that all the dependencies for services necessary for the operation of restored systems are a manual process and therefore slow and prone to human error. Imagine repointing IP addresses and MX records manually after the restoration of an Exchange server.
- It is dependent on the limitations of the availability of physical hardware or virtual systems that are largely manually configured.
- Typically, large amounts of data are moved from backup locations to target systems to complete the restoration of failed systems. This includes: operating systems, applications, databases and data. This is always a slow process.
In the end, this all adds up to a very time-consuming and tedious process, that often requires several attempts and re-work to get everything functioning as it should.
The goal of a modern DRaaS solution is to restore the function of the entire IT infrastructure after a single or multi-system failure, while minimizing human intervention and downtime. To do this, the business continuity solution leverages several key technologies:
- Virtualization — provides complete flexibility in deploying any scale of machine at any location which allows your business to dramatically speed recovery time in the event of a disaster, and also allows you to test multiple disaster scenarios without affecting your daily operational processes, so that you can be ready at a moment’s notice.
- Orchestration — orchestration creates intelligent workflows to support real-time recovery of applications by understanding the dependencies of applications and systems and ensuring that each process comes back in the correct order and in a completely automated fashion.
- Data deduplication — one of the advantages of data deduplication is the ability to replicate a reduced data set to a remote location without the same network bandwidth requirements as conventional replication. It also makes it easier for replication to occur at any time due to the small amount of data that actually has to travel between locations.
- Cloud based resources — having the ability to spin up applications and systems remotely allows complete flexibility for your business, even in the event of your primary business location becoming completely unavailable. It also provides complete flexibility and scalability for your business because the cloud-based environment is able to instantly provision any environment your business may require.
In the end, a well designed DRaaS solution will restore the function of your entire IT infrastructure with a single click and do so in a less than 15 minutes. Traditional Disaster Recovery solutions cannot match this as they were not designed for rapid recovery of complex interconnected systems. The pace of today’s business and the complex IT infrastructures used to maintain that pace require a modern system designed to meet the challenge.