2 myths I believed about Disaster Recovery as a Service

I didn't think Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) was a good fit for SMBs until I embarked on a journey to educate myself on the service and spoke with approximately 20 cloud service providers about their DRaaS offering. I learned I had been believing two 'myths' about DRaaS.

disaster recovery button
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Maybe it’s because I’ve been married 16 years. Maybe it’s because we have 4 young children. Whatever the reason, at 42 years old, I’m slowly learning something about myself.

I’m sometimes… wrong. [gasp]

And when I notice it, it’s much better to admit it than make up an excuse. Can you relate?

So, here is how this matters to you… I was wrong about Disaster Recovery as a Service (a.k.a. DRaaS). [bigger gasp]

As the CEO of a business cloud and telecom brokerage, DRaaS is something I’ve heard about for a long time. But for a couple of years, I dismissed it. I didn’t think it was a fit for the majority of our clients (i.e. small- and medium-sized companies).

Then one day, (probably out of boredom), I started thinking about DRaaS. “Since these providers keep talking about it, maybe they know a thing or two?” I thought to myself.

“After all, Gartner expects the use of DRaaS to grow by more than 200 percent by 2020. Maybe it might be a good service? Maybe I’m… wrong?” [blood-curling scream followed by fainting]

So, (after I picked myself off the floor), I arranged conference calls with around 20 cloud providers with a DRaaS solution in their product portfolio, to discuss their DRaaS service, one-by-one. Sound fun?

Ahhh yeah… I bet you want my job now, right?

And I bet you’re guessing what happened. Yep. After 20 hours of self-education, I confirmed I was wrong about two major aspects of DRaaS. And now, in this article, I am admitting it to you, in case, like me, you are holding on to the same myths.

These are the two myths I believed about DRaaS:

Myth No. 1: DRaaS is Expensive

clouds spending money geralt

I don’t know why but I just assumed DRaaS was expensive. Maybe because of its fancy name (in the big shot “aaS” category), and the fact companies were obviously getting more than just “cloud backup.”

But regardless of the reason, I found out DRaaS isn’t always expensive. After discussing pricing with almost 20 DRaaS service providers, I learned there are five core pricing components of DRaaS service:

  1. Storage cost (of data stored in cloud backup environment)
  2. Bandwidth cost (of cloud backup environment)
  3. RAM cost (of backup environment’s servers)
  4. Compute cost (of backup environment’s servers)
  5. Licensing fees for backup software (i.e. Veeam, Zerto, etc.)

Some providers charge for all five components, every month, regardless of whether your backup environment is used or not (i.e. in an “active” or “passive” state). Others, however, only charge for “storage” and “software licensing” while your backup environment is passive, and then only charge for “bandwidth,” “RAM,” and “compute” if your company moves into an active state. For these cloud service providers, DRaaS is about the same price as cloud backup, since (your company may already be paying for backup software), and you are only paying for data storage and software licensing.

Some DRaaS providers also have their own proprietary backup software and never charge you for software licensing. In this case, DRaaS is less expensive than plain-old cloud backup.

Myth No. 2: DRaaS Services are All Similar

The other day, I started researching a distortion pedal for my electric guitar. I’m a novice but I wanted that cool, dark “heavy metal” sound as I rocked “Iron Man” and “Smoke on the Water.” [wild audience laughter]

An hour on Amazon later, I realized there are many different types of “effect pedals” which can also be accented by different amplifier effects… so I opened another chrome window, where I started watching samples of each pedal on YouTube… Hours later, I finally bought one that would give me the sound I was looking for.

We’ve all done this, right? You go to buy something and realize there is a whole world of variety within one simple product or service?

So, it should not come as a surprise to know DRaaS isn’t any different. After dissecting 20 DRaaS offerings, I learned (in addition to differences in pricing structures), there are many flavors and features, which vary with each cloud service provider.

You really must self-evaluate your company’s DRaaS needs, then go find a service which best-matches your top requirements. Here are some examples:

  • Some DRaaS services are only able to back-up your company’s VM’s while others can back-up your physical servers too.
  • Some will only work if your company is using VMware for virtualization software on your servers. Others will also work with Hyper-V, etc.
  • Some offer data-center colo space for hybrid cloud needs.
  • Some specialize in large, custom solutions while others focus on small business.
  • Some offer an option for an on-site backup appliance and some do not.
  • All of them vary in initial setup, initial testing, long-term testing and ongoing administration and monitoring of the service.
  • Some solutions are designed to reduce your company’s recovery time objective (RTO) to seconds, while others are designed to reduce downtime to 4 hours.

So, I admit it. I was wrong about some big aspects of DRaaS and I’m glad I took the 20 hours of time to dispel these myths I held. If your company does not have the means or expertise to have a mirrored server environment among multiple, geographically diverse locations, DRaaS is a cost-effective option to consider. If you’d like more information on the research I did on each DRaaS provider, you can read the blog I wrote on this project, for our company's website.

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