Disaster Recovery as a Service Requirements

In our data protection research, we have discovered that there are quite a number of companies that say they do Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). Just what is DRaaS? What are the basic requirements? Is using a public cloud better than using hosted DRaaS? Are there any risks? Is DRaaS just a dump-and-go? Is DRaaS just another managed services play? There are many questions—now, let us look at some answers.

We have seen three forms of DRaaS, each targeted toward a different segment of the market:

  • Hosted DRaaS is where the data protection software vendor hosts its own DRaaS within a hosted non-cloud environment, such as Equinox. Vendors in this arena include Quantum, Zetta, Acronis, etc.
  • Cloud DRaaS is where the data protection vendor uses your cloud account to automatically store and create systems within the public cloud, such as Amazon or Azure. Vendors that provide this functionality are HotLink, Quantum, etc.
  • Managed DRaaS is where the DRaaS is managed by someone else on your behalf. This could be a hosted DRaaS or a cloud DRaaS solution using any vendor’s software. Many cloud service providers who have managed DRaaS capability are using any number of data protection vendors, such as Veeam, Zerto, HotLink, etc.

When we look at these three forms, we see no evidence that either a hosted DRaaS or a cloud DRaaS solution is any better than the other. As such, we need to ask what the requirements are for DRaaS, not where they are located. We have a short list to help with this:

Product Veeam Cristie Software HotLink DR
Service(s) Target
Vendor Virtual Appliance
Installer (self-created VM)
Physical Appliance
SaaS Management
Public Cloud
Use Organization Public Cloud Account
Colo/Hosted Solution 11
Restore to Cloud/Hosted Solution 11
Use Public Cloud Storage (S3, etc)
International DRaaS
Multiple Zones (EBS Zones, multiply hosted, etc.)

In the above table, we look at the services offered by various vendors and at how those services are delivered. Services are what make up a DRaaS, so we need to understand how those services work and are provided.

Disaster Recovery as a Service Definitions

Our table definitions are as follows:

Target means the target market for the offering.

Vendor Virtual Appliance means that the vendor ships a virtual version of its product. For DRaaS, this simplifies where a particular solution can run.

Installer (self-created VM) means that the vendor ships an installer image type to a specific operating system. This OS is usually Windows, which implies that to build DRaaS out of the product, the cost of Windows needs to be included.

Physical Appliance means that the vendor ships a physical appliance, which implies that the appliance could not be used within a public cloud unless the public cloud is offering this vendor’s services itself.

SaaS Management means that there is a Software as a Service management portal for the DRaaS. This could simplify multicloud management.

Public Cloud means the DRaaS is delivered within a public cloud, such as Amazon. An acceptable public cloud provider is one with a good reputation.

Use Organization Public Cloud Account means that the DRaaS allows the user of the service to control location and other features of the public cloud as it relates to the service. One such feature could be the copying of data between multiple zones using the built-in public cloud capabilities. This also implies that any billing for just the cloud services goes directly to the organization and not to the DRaaS provider.

Hosted Solution means that a public cloud is not in use, but a hosting provider such as Equinox is in use. In general, this implies that the solution was built specifically for the DRaaS provider and does not use any form of public cloud. An acceptable hosting provider is one with a good reputation.

Restore to Cloud/Hosted Solution means that any recovery can happen within the DRaaS environment itself, whether hosted or within a public cloud. Recovery includes translation between hypervisor types so that not only do VMs boot, but applications run. In some cases, this may be handled as part of a managed service, but not all the time.

Use Public Cloud Storage (S3, etc.) means that the repository for storage data is within a public cloud or can end up in a public cloud. By using public cloud storage, it is possible to save data within different zones or regions of the world.

Internal DRaaS means that the service can recover and protect data from multiple jurisdictions. Hopefully, the DRaaS provider will understand the intricacies of all jurisdictions before recovering into them. This is currently the purview of a managed service provider or your own legal teams.

Multiple Zones (EBS Zones, multiple hosted, etc.) means that data is automatically stored within multiple zones, and that this can be controlled either by the organization or by the DRaaS solution. In the case of use of a public cloud such as Amazon AWS, the location and inter-zone replication takes place at the cloud layer, not at the DRaaS application, yet the DRaaS needs to know such occurred.

Closing Thoughts

These requirements are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more aspects of DRaaS that we need to consider. These requirements address only how the service is delivered and what that implies. Today’s DRaaS is often wrapped within a managed service to provide nearly all of these capabilities. It is important to note that whether hosted or using a public cloud, DRaaS offers an intriguing solution. Most companies that offer “recover anywhere” are in reality a DRaaS. There are many companies out there that have this functionality, and there are many more that are enablers to this functionality. Either way, we are now entering a completely different era of data protection. DRaaS is the forerunner of the future, and it is a tapeless future.

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Edward Haletky
Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is an analyst, author, architect, technologist, and out-of-the-box thinker. As an analyst, Edward looks at all things IoT, big data, cloud, security, and DevOps. As an author, he has written about virtualization and security. As an architect, Edward creates peer-reviewed reference architectures for hybrid cloud, cloud-native applications, and many other aspects of the modern business. As a technologist, Edward creates code prototypes for parts of those architectures. Edward is solving today's problems in an implementable fashion.

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