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How to Effectively Implement Recovery as a Service, Part 1

Traditional disaster recovery is being replaced by recovery as a service, which enables institutions to recover data and systems within the cloud.

IT-LifelineHistorically, disaster recovery required a significant investment in physical infrastructure. Organizations had to balance the risk of not being prepared for a disaster with the cost and level of recovery they could afford. As a result, many executives perceive traditional disaster recovery as an expensive “insurance policy” that is only accessible to organizations with big budgets.

However, with the development of cloud computing technology, traditional disaster recovery is being replaced by recovery as a service (RaaS), which enables institutions to recover data and systems within the cloud. RaaS has leveled the playing field for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) by providing access to comprehensive and cost-effective disaster recovery services that were once out of reach.

Market Conditions

Economic conditions have caused SMBs to have to do more with less. SMBs are tasked with protecting a growing amount of vital data. In 2012, Asigra conducted a research study in which 59 percent of respondents cited increasing amounts of data to protect as a driver to consider modernized backup services.

To reap the cost efficiencies cloud technology brings to disaster recovery, business owners are adopting the solution at increasing rates. In February 2012, Aberdeen Research surveyed 136 organizations of all sizes regarding their experiences with disaster recovery and cloud. It found 34 businesses had located their DR infrastructure in the public cloud. Of those, 52 percent used a remote recovery site run by a third party, 24 percent used a shared infrastructure within the cloud and 24 percent used a dedicated infrastructure in the cloud.

At the same time, disaster recovery technology has evolved, and the cost of providing that technology has fallen, which makes the shift towards RaaS more plausible. According Gartner Research, 30 percent of SMBs will have adopted RaaS to support IT operations recovery by 2014. Scrutiny from regulators and raising business costs has caused many SMBs to consider RaaS as a viable business option.

Though the economic recession caused some organizations to maintain old infrastructure, many are starting to question that strategy. During a disaster, SMBs could potentially lose customers, sales, valuable data, materials and equipment. In addition, failing tape drives, the need for recovery testing, technology refreshes and regulatory compliance are all events that drive businesses to reevaluate traditional disaster recovery strategies.

Debunking Recovery Myths

Many business executives assume that disasters happen infrequently. The Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters published a study stating that natural disasters have increased by 233 percent since 1980. Although disasters are increasing, any number of events can put business continuity at risk, including system failure, data corruption, loss of datacenter or facility and human error.

Some executives believe that a disaster is the only event that threatens an institution’s business continuity. In 2011, Forrester’s study on the state of disaster recovery preparedness reported that 24 percent of respondents had declared disaster and failed over to an alternate site in the previous five years. An additional 40 percent of respondents admitted to having a major disruption to business operations. The same survey pointed out that 44 percent of respondents indicated power failure was the cause of their most significant disaster declaration, followed by IT hardware failures and network failures. In 2010, the average amount of data lost was 4.8 hours, and the average reported cost of downtime per hour was almost $145,000.

Many executives and IT staff believe that backing up data and shipping it offsite is where preparing for a disaster ends. SMBs tend to invest in file and system recovery, rather than investing in a solution that ensures total institutional recovery. In a real disaster, however, organizations need to recover more than just data. Full institutional recovery means recovering data, work groups, systems and the institution. Beyond recovery, SMBs need a communications plan, which identifies key team members, a company spokesperson and outlines acceptable response times.

Outsource vs. In House
Most SMBs typically realize around a 20 percent savings by investing in RaaS, rather than trying to run a disaster recovery solution in-house. The savings are further amplified when considering the cost of housing standby equipment in preparation for a disaster. Organizations that manage data and recovery internally have to invest heavily in infrastructure and often overextend IT staffs in the process. The cost savings that cloud computing brings to RaaS provides SMBs with a competitive advantage over organizations that manage disaster recovery internally.

Please tune into tomorrow’s Chem.Insider Daily for part two of this two-part series. For more information, please visit