Unplanned downtime carries a hefty price tag for enterprises. In 2020, critical server outages cost enterprises on average at least $10,000 per hour, with 95% of respondents stating that the cost was $200,000 per hour or more. 40% said that the average cost was closer to $1 million per hour, and 17% lost $5 million or more for every hour offline.

Those are some sobering statistics that demonstrate the importance of being prepared for the worst. But you’re thinking, “We back up everything! We have configuration backups. We’re safe.” Better yet, you might be using a co-managed IT service model, so you think you’re covered.

But are you really?

Or would you be better off turning to disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) providers for real piece of mind?

Let’s find out.

What is DRaaS

Disaster-recovery-as-a-service, or DRaaS, is a cloud-based solution you can use to minimize unplanned downtime during catastrophic situations that cause your network to go offline. A relatively recent entry onto the as-a-service list, DRaaS is available from service providers via a contract, usage, or an on-demand model. The cost is determined by many factors, including storage, compute cost, and more.

As with other as-a-service models, the advantages include high availability, infinite scalability, and cost-efficiency.

How does DRaaS work?

With DRaaS, the service provider replicates your systems and data to a cloud infrastructure. If a disaster occurs and your main site goes down, the recovery service will kick in almost instantaneously, allowing your organization to keep operating as usual.

Essentially, you’re taking advantage of a third party’s unaffected network infrastructure to quickly recover your data and apps, which helps to reduce downtime to a minimum.

So, when you contract a DRaaS solution, the first step is to build a mirror of all your data and network infrastructure, that your provider will host remotely. It’s essential to include your entire setup, which means both physical and virtual servers.

As your profile and data stores change over time, you can provide updated snapshots to the service provider, who will update the replicated environment to minimize the loss of data in the event of a failover. Obviously, you want to maintain the smallest window possible between new snapshots.

When disaster strikes, the primary system fails over to the DRaaS solution. With a good provider, this transfer will be fast enough that downtime will be minimal. In fact, you might not even realize the switch happened.

Once the issue with the primary site has been resolved, the system switches back, with any new data or changes being transferred to ensure continuity. Once failback is complete, it’s imperative to continue updating the replicated environment to avoid issues in the future.

Three types of DRaaS models

DRaaS providers offer three general models based on the level of involvement you want in the process: managed, assisted, and self-service.

Managed DRaaS

With managed solutions, the service provider is responsible for the whole process, and is the best solution for companies that don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to manage their own disaster recovery. A premium service for those that prefer a hands-off process.

Keep in mind, though, that with a fully managed DRaaS, you’ll want to work closely with your provider to make sure that their system is always up-to-date with yours.

Assisted DRaaS

With assisted DRaaS, you’re responsible for certain aspects of the disaster recovery process. The provider will offer their resources and expertise to streamline the implementation and management, but you’ll be responsible for some (or even all) of the disaster recovery processes.

Assisted DRaaS is ideal if you have IT staff with the necessary expertise, want greater control over your data, or your business uses customized applications that would be challenging for another party to manage.

Self-service DRaaS

As the name implies, self-service DRaaS means that you are responsible for every step of the disaster recovery plan, from planning to implementation. In this case, the service provider just gives you access to backup management software and hosts your data and infrastructure in a remote location.

This solution is best for companies with the knowledge and resources to implement disaster recovery and handle cloud computing in-house. You’ll need to ensure that failover happens immediately and smoothly to minimize downtime. You’ll also need to have the expertise to recover your data when the primary site is up and running again.

What are the advantages of DRaaS?

railway tracks leading into lake
Image: Davide Pietralunga/Unsplash

So why choose to outsource disaster recovery instead of handling it in-house? The easiest way to answer that question is to look at all the benefits DRaaS has over a DIY solution.

Protection for every situation

It’s a common misconception to assume that just because a major issue hasn’t happened to your primary site (yet) that a DRaaS solution is overkill.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. A DRaaS solution can protect your business in a wide range of other situations, including:

For example, ransomware attacks are on the rise, with a FinCen report showing that the first half of 2021 saw suspicious transactions of $590 million, compared to $416 million for the whole of 2020.

As if that’s not enough, ransomware-as-a-service has become a thing. Yes, hackers no longer have to write their own code to hold your company hostage. “Script kiddies” can just pay for the malicious software they want, meaning that any actor can attack your company regardless of their skill level.

The figures above only reference attacks where the companies paid and don’t include any related costs, such as loss of productivity due to downtime. If these companies had had a cloud-based DRaaS solution, they could’ve been back online without worrying about a payout.

The same applies to just about any other situation that could cause a critical outage, even if it’s not a natural disaster. With a near instantaneous failover to unaffected network infrastructure, You’d experience almost no downtime, and your IT staff would have breathing room to address the problem properly instead of having to rush to get your business operational again.

Improved cost efficiency

Implementing a disaster recovery plan in-house can get expensive. Not only do you have to invest in the hardware, but you also have to cover the costs of support and maintenance.

While DRaaS isn’t free, it’s still more cost-effective over the long term. The service provider owns and maintains all the hardware and software, saving you money, time, and physical space.

You’ll also be able to implement your disaster recovery program much faster because you don’t have to wait for hardware installations, testing, or anything else.

Finally, you’ll save money on storage. When setting up your own disaster recovery solution, you’ll end up with storage you don’t use. With DRaaS, you just pay for what you need at the time, safe in the knowledge that you can scale up easily and quickly as your business grows.

Faster recovery time and better access

When you handle disaster recovery in-house, getting back up and running can take time. The longer it takes, the more potential revenue you lose. However, with a DRaaS solution, operations can be back up and running in minutes.

You’ll also be able to access your system from any location, as long as you have an internet connection, which is especially beneficial if you can’t access your primary location.

Improved security

Protecting hardware and maintaining data security can be a major addition to your team’s workload, and a high cost. But with a DRaaS solution, the service provider is responsible for it all. Just make sure to choose a provider that offers the best level of security for their data centers.

Access to specialized expertise

Working with a reputable DRaaS provider also means that you’ll have access to specialized expertise and guidance. As the core business, the provider’s team will have more experience in planning and implementing disaster recovery programs and managing data security.

Alternatives to DRaaS

DRaaS isn’t the only option to protect yourself in case of a disaster, though. You can also consider co-managed IT services, or backup-as-a-service (BaaS).

trash can sitting in water
Image: Jonathan Kemper/Unsplash

Backup-as-a-Service vs DRaaS

With BaaS, you can back up your data to a remote location offered by a third-party MSP. The provider maintains and manages the backups, which frees up your IT staff from having to do it locally.

While BaaS is a good way to make sure you always have access to your data, the drawback is that it can’t help you on the infrastructure side. You only get access to your data with the former, and recovery can take hours or weeks, the responsibility for which lives with your team. Conversely, DRaaS lets your business continue as if nothing happened because you still have access to working servers and your data.

With BaaS, you aren’t going to be paying as much, as you only really have to pay for storage. With DRaaS, you’re going to be shelling out for many other resources, including network backup software, bandwidth, compute infrastructure, and more.

Co-managed IT services vs DRaaS

With co-managed IT services, your outsourcing some of your IT needs to an MSP. What you outsource is generally up to you—dependent on the expertise of your IT staff, and how much they can handle.

Tip: it’s always a good idea to audit the current to determine where you need help before reaching out.

One advantage of co-managed IT services is flexibility. As your business evolves, you can change your co-managed IT strategy to match.

A co-managed IT services provider will also provide a wider range of services than a DRaaS provider. So, if you need help beyond disaster recovery, you won’t have to look for another vendor.

However, the risk you assume is that your partner may not be specialized in disaster recovery. They might have the expertise, but nowhere near the experience of a specialized DRaaS team.

There’s also the possibility that they might not have the right infrastructure in place, meaning they end up outsourcing to a DRaaS provider anyway, and pass the cost along to you. Do your homework if disaster recovery is one of your goals with outsourcing workload.

While you can’t stop a catastrophe in its tracks, you can take measures to minimize its impact with DRaaS. However, DRaaS shouldn’t be used as a crutch to justify poor network management and monitoring. You still need to have a good network traffic monitoring solution in place.

After all, if an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, why not try the 14-day free trial from Auvik? See how your team can detect and resolve problems before they get to “disaster” levels.

  1. Tony Niemotka Avatar
    Tony Niemotka

    Destiny ,

    Nice article. I appreciate the way you presented the information and stayed away from going to technical, that’s an art.

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