All Disaster Recovery as a Service offerings look the same. How do I choose?
You’ve made the decision to use a disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solution – budget has been approved, and it’s time to start the evaluation process. What are the criteria you should use to compare seemingly similar DR solutions, and what questions should you ask of the potential solutions providers?
This one is obvious; make sure the technologies the solution utilizes are fully compatible with the server workloads and storage you are protecting, and ask questions of your DRaaS solutions provider. Is it fast or frequent enough to keep up with your predefined recovery time and recovery point objectives? How does the solutions provider keep up with changing replication and failover technologies? How will the provider assist with moving to more capable technologies as they are implemented? We recommend you maximize flexibility by choosing based on service levels and operational excellence, not solely on underlying technologies.
How much bandwidth does the solution offer to meet your requirements? Is the bandwidth for the disaster recovery site included in the DRaaS billing or billed separately? Does the solutions provider require that your primary environment also be with them, or do you have options? What is the service-level agreement on the connectivity? We recommend you match service levels on connectivity with service levels on DRaaS to avoid finger pointing and other multivendor problems.
Automation is one of the primary reasons IT organizations are getting out of DIY DR. How much intervention by your team is required to switch from primary to secondary sites? How much intervention to fail back? What happens to the DR environment when you add or change workloads in the production data center? And who makes the network changes? We recommend that you purchase as much automation as you can afford, and that you clearly understand and test all related processes that are part of a recovery effort.
Is the DR solution co-managed by you and the provider? Where are the lines of demarcation? Does the provider offer a way to vacation-proof or sick-proof the service if your staff is unavailable during an event? We recommend that you not only have clear lines of responsibility and overlap mapped, but that you choose an operationally focused provider with the staff and experience to deliver when you declare a disaster.
How stable is the DRaaS company you’re considering? What is their financial position? Are they owned by private equity, publicly held or privately held? How much debt do they carry? How do they invest in research to make sure that your DRaaS keeps up with changing times? Even though these criteria are nonfunctional requirements of a DRaaS offering, they can have a huge impact on the long-term success of your disaster recovery and business continuity plans. We recommend choosing a company focused more on service delivery than on private equity profit and shareholder performance.
Does the DRaaS provider offer 100% uptime with service credits in their contract? What is the expected recovery point and recovery time should there be a failure? Is connectivity and compute/storage being offered by one vendor or multiple vendors? Is the connectivity protected as the same service level as the compute and storage offering? We recommend you choose providers with clear service levels both on cloud services and connectivity that provide service credits when problems arise.
How many locations is the DRaaS provider offering for your secondary site? Do you have a say in which location is chosen? We recommend explicitly choosing your disaster recovery locations and purchasing as much distance separating your primary and secondary sites as your industry demands or you can afford. Half a day’s driving distance is a practical approach to separating production and disaster recovery environments.
What do the industry analysts like Gartner, 451 Research and Forrester say about the DRaaS solution and provider that you are considering? We recommend you choose a provider that has been reviewed and ranked to minimize risk. I
Doug Theis is the Director of Market Strategy in Expedient’s Indianapolis market focused on engaging with and improving the regional IT community through planning, sponsoring and attending community events, facilitating IT-focused continuing education opportunities, and sharing strategies, tactics, and research to help IT professionals stay abreast of best practices and industry trends. Connect with Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter.