IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is a particularly fast-growing sector of the business continuity and disaster recovery market. Here, Ginger Woolridge explains why this is, looks at the benefits that DraaS brings, and discusses how it is likely to develop in 2021.

Disaster recovery rarely gets the attention it needs in a business until it’s too late. The global pandemic made many companies realize their existing disaster recovery policies were inadequate, forcing them to adapt. Disaster recovery is changing in 2021, as more businesses are seeing the benefits of disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). DRaaS provides the tools and infrastructure businesses need to maintain their services in the event of a disaster that causes IT infrastructure downtime. With DRaaS, businesses can easily switch to a failover service in the event of a disaster without the burden of maintaining their own redundant IT infrastructure. 

DRaaS for business continuity

Many modern IT services rely on 100 percent uptime. Yet, in reality, things do go wrong from time to time, and mistakes happen. You can take steps to mitigate risk, but sometimes certain events make downtime unavoidable. Consider how well your business would cope if a natural disaster wiped out the data center / centre your business depends on. How long would it take you to recover and get back up and running? DRaaS is meant to provide business continuity no matter the issue, whether due to simple hardware failure or a natural disaster. This allows you to react and respond quickly and keep downtime to an absolute minimum. Some DRaaS providers can offer rollover to a complete replication of your service within 15 minutes. For global digital services, this can be invaluable.

The growth of DRaaS

The global pandemic of 2020 and 2021 has put a large spotlight on the benefits of DRaaS instead of rolling your own solution. Businesses that relied on manual backup processes to local storage devices on their internal networks have realized that these sorts of policies simply do not work in the modern marketplace. And with the expansion of a remote workforce, relying on on-site backups is simply unviable. Employees may be able to connect to work VPNs and remotely access their work desktops in the office from their home, but if the electricity gets cut at the office and nobody can get in, how long will it take you to recover and get your business back up?

Rolling your own backup solution requires not only at least one other physical location to replicate all of your critical business data and infrastructure to, but it also requires having policies in place that outline what to do in the event of an emergency and having IT staff that are trained to know what to do.

A mantra developers that like to repeat is ‘test your backups’. Even with best-practice backup procedures in place, you cannot know whether your backups will work flawlessly without testing them. The reality is that for many businesses, testing the codebase itself that your business depends on is often a battle between QA, who want to thoroughly test new changes, and management, who want to release new features as soon as possible. Taking time to test that backups work correctly and are easily recovered is often seen as a low priority. It’s not until you need to use a backup that they are given much thought, which is also the worst time to find out something does not work correctly.

More businesses are realizing the benefits of DRaaS going forward and taking advantage of them. DRaaS is run by specialists who offer varying service levels, from fully-managed to self-service, depending on your needs and competencies. The DRaaS provider handles the responsibility of maintaining data backups and rollover functionality. Your data is backed up to the cloud, so it is spread across several data centers and can be accessed from anywhere globally with an Internet connection.

Implications for data protection

Making use of the cloud for your backup and rollover services has many benefits, but certain implications need to be considered. DRaaS is capable of exactly replicating your service, from the server environment to your files and data, which means it is great for business continuity purposes. Still, it also means you are entrusting the DRaaS provider with your business data. This has important implications for the security and data protection of both your service and your customers’ data.

Recent data protection regulations, such as GDPR in Europe and CPPA in California, require you to exercise more control over how your customers’ and clients’ data are handled. These sorts of policies only look to become more widespread going forward, so understanding the implications of utilizing a DRaaS and making your customers aware of how you process and store their data is essential.

DraaS trends to watch out for in 2021

The cloud-based nature of many services has brought about benefits that were not necessarily new in 2020 but suddenly became much more prevalent. For one, their accessibility means that employees and customers can access your services and keep the business going from anywhere in the world. DRaaS brings a feature typically confined to local area networks, such as backups, to the cloud. These benefits mean that backups are accessible from anywhere at any time. With remote working continuing, more and more services will adapt to a cloud-based, as-a-service business model.

Looking towards the future, the cloud-based nature of DRaaS also means it can provide more than merely backup storage functionality and service replication. DRaaS providers are starting to apply continuous data protection and continuous data monitoring. Breaches or outages are detected automatically, and in some cases, failover processes can also be initiated automatically. This removes the need for human involvement in the process, which reduces the amount of time your business is down for, minimizing the impact of downtime on customers who cannot access your services.

The power of the cloud enables DRaaS providers to continuously improve data recovery and rollover times. Large databases, in particular, can take hours or even days to back up manually, depending on size and configuration. Various new snapshot technologies mean that DRaaS providers can offer near-instant recovery times for databases and service replication.

Final thoughts

Going forward, DRaaS looks to make downtime virtually invisible to most of your clients and customers. With complete service and data replication in as little as 15 minutes, many customers will not even know your main service is down. DRaaS does this while reducing the cost and complexity of running your own disaster recovery and backup procedures. The convenience provided means many more businesses will be turning towards DRaaS in 2021 and beyond.

The author

Ginger Woolridge is Head of Growth at Lightyear. The company recent published the ‘Ultimate Guide to DraaS’.

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