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DRaaS: What is it and why do I need it?
I could be wrong but my first assumption is that you probably own a vehicle, my second assumption is that you probably don’t own another vehicle only to use in the event of the first one breaking down; that would be a foolish waste of money right? It would make more sense to rent a vehicle only for the times the main one is off-road for some reason; a sort of Vehicle as a Service you might say (VaaS: that has a ring to it!).

You know where I’m going here of course. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is, for many companies, a fantastic use-case for the Cloud. Under normal operating conditions you pay only for the inexpensive cloud storage you’re consuming, when disaster strikes you pay for whatever compute power you are consuming in the cloud, for as long as you need it.

So how does DRaaS work? This depends upon your requirements. Two metrics help to define your DRaaS needs – RPO and RTO, let me explain each of these before moving on.

RPORecovery Point Objective. Simply put this is how much data you are willing to tolerate losing in the event of a disaster. It might be that you’re OK losing as much as 24 hours’ worth of data, or as little as a few minutes. It’s likely that different systems have different RPO requirements (bear in mind that this generally has a bearing on the cost and complexity of your DRaaS solution).

RTORecovery Time Objective. This is how long it should take to restore service (i.e. how long it should take to implement your DR plan).

Putting these together you can see that an RPO of 15 minutes and an RTO of 60 minutes would mean data being replicated at least every 15 minutes and a DR plan that should take no longer than 60 minutes to complete. This design could include a replication tool that can replicate your data and orchestrate “spinning up” your systems in the cloud at the press of a button.

On the other hand, a simple backup to the cloud may suffice for less critical systems; after all, you don’t need to jump 2m to clear a 1m fence!

Whilst I’m on the subject of Cloud, I’ve heard many confused comments and ideas of how best to adopt it successfully into a business. Remember that a cloud is, at its most basic, just a datacentre. In fairness, it’s no ordinary datacentre and it’s not just one datacentre. OK, I’m really underplaying this, cloud datacenters are mind boggling and I firmly believe they should collectively be crowned the Eighth Wonder of the World but they are, like I said, just datacenters. So why would you want to put your data and applications in them? Well, there are many reasons and I will cover them in a later blog but for now, you should know that DRaaS is one of those use-cases that really leverages the cloud in a very effective way. The cloud, adopted in the right way will add elasticity, cost reduction and data resiliency that was unheard of just a few short years ago.