Disaster Recovery as a Service, hype or a solution for a real challenge?

Dublin, Ireland | 4th September 2019

An argument that I hear repeatedly from my customers is whether disaster recovery is a real need for their business or just a buzz word, I hope you find the answer in this blog.

 Why Disaster Recovery is relevant to you?

It may be shocking how humanity still remembers what could arguably be the worst data loss disaster of all time, The burning of the Royal Alexandria Library (the Mouseion) that took more than 500,000 scrolls (around 200GB in today’s language) containing advanced and irreplaceable works of mathematics, astronomy, physics, and poetry. The data loss was so great we’re still hearing about it over two centuries after the fact. If we were to learn a lesson from this historic event it’s that data has always been valuable to people and having a single copy of each data (book) is just asking for trouble.

No one wants to think about the possibility of his/her own “the Mouseion burning” moment; it’s much easier to go about your business thinking, “it will never happen to me.” Unfortunately, that false sense of security often results in people and organisations finding themselves woefully under-prepared when disaster does strike. Flames are no longer the biggest risk your systems faces,  nowadays with the rise of complexity in IT, various internal and external risks threaten your data. Between hardware and software failures, human errors, cyber-attacks, and natural calamities, it’s almost guaranteed that you will experience that moment at some point during the life of your business. And when that occurs, the potential loss of data means losing money or even worse, the business closing doors.

In 2018, FEMA (US Federal Emergency Management Agency) reported that 40% of businesses that experience a major disaster, never reopen. They also explain that 90% of smaller companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within 5 days. Further estimates indicate that 25% of those that do reopen, fail in the first year. This can happen due to losing sensitive business and customer information, brand damage or cost of failing to keep compliant with existing regulation and legislation.

A good Disaster Recovery (DR) solution is the first step to ensure your business continuity and minimise disruption and data loss. It is high time to start thinking NOW about your own data risks and how are you going to deal with them.

  Do you have your data protected?

It makes sense to look at having a DR solution like purchasing an insurance policy – you hope that you will never need it, but at the same time you can’t afford to take the risk of not having one. Data is no different than any other valuable business asset you might have – you want your data to be covered and ‘insured’ against any unforeseen risks. This is a major integral part of any organization’s business continuity planning which addresses how your data, systems, and networking can be recovered when a natural or man-made disaster hits.

I believe anyone who has been long enough in the technology industry would remember a story or two of a disaster situation when recovery plans did not work well. I was once part of a large-scale project for a telecom operator where we were going through a major software upgrade. Unexpectedly things went wrong and all system’s data was wiped. The plan was to perform a full recovery from the tapes but just to make things even worse all backups that had been taken for the last number of months were corrupted and nobody knew!!  A lesson I learned the hard way “what’s the point of taking the time and cost of backing up if you don’t test regularly”?

When I look at the state of the market today, I still see a lot of customers with tapes in the back of their cars each night, or a dusty backup server sitting in the office corner. I see a DR plan that is just a piece of paper that has never been tested or validated before. Better practices are definitely needed here!

 A modern approach to disaster recovery

One might think, what would have been required to build a full disaster recovery for the Royal Alexandria Library so we could have possibly avoided this saddening loss of scholary treasures? The simple answer is ‘a lot’. Even with our modern transportation, 200 fully loaded trucks with books would be required to transfer ‘data’ to the ‘recovery’ site. Plus, a huge undertaking from the library staff to write copies or replicas of these books, extreme efficiency to keep books in the same order and in correct shelves as in the primary site. To complicate it even more, how the staff can ensure that all books’ replicas are in full synch with the originals, how can a small change like a spelling correction between editions be replicated to the recovery site? I personally start to appreciate living in the digital age, do you?

Traditionally, deploying a disaster recovery site was still a big challenge, especially for small and medium-sized organizations. It requires a high initial CAPEX investment to duplicate the hardware, storage and networking to the recovery site. Plus, the cost of managing the life cycle of this infrastructure and availing of staff to maintain it, all this results in a high total cost of ownership (TCO) of the solution.

A better approach will depend on our ability to harness all the technological advancement we have in our current time, leveraging software-defined infrastructure and advanced data synchronization and automation techniques. An increasing number of organisations are now recognising the advantages of using the cloud as their off-site DR solution and are adopting it as part of their data protection and recovery strategy. Cloud-based Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (a.k.a DRaaS) is now a favorable solution to achieve a nice balance between cost and value.

Viatel DRaaS leverages our deep cloud and networking expertise to offer disaster recovery as a fully managed service in a pay-as-you-go model, without any huge upfront investments. It achieves cost efficiency by effective use of shared cloud infrastructure and enjoys the scale of economies, passing all savings on to your business. With the agility of the cloud your cloud DR resources can always scale up just-in-time adding exactly the additional resources you need when you need them, no more over-purchasing to account for future unpredictability. We perform all the heavy lifting to ensure your production data is always synced to the cloud and stored in an immediately usable format to reduce the time needed to failover to cloud replicas bringing RTO down.

The idea of hiding all that heavy-lifting behind the scene and wrapping these capabilities with a robust customer-friendly SLA brings huge peace of mind and makes DR solutions more approachable especially for non-tech savvy organisations.

You are in full charge!

It does not require a lot of imagination to know that having the right DR solution is the first step in your business continuity planning. I will be more than happy to take a conversation around your DR strategy and how to bring best expertise and industry practices to offer a fit for purpose solution for your business.

I am here sharing my won thoughts on what you can do to take this forward:

  • Start your business continuity planning TODAY and have a good view of your IT and Data risks.
  • Prioritize your next immediate actions to address these risks.
  • Don’t hesitate to talk to us in Viatel to know how we can help.