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Disaster Recovery as a Service: A Gateway for SMB Cloud Adoption

  • October 2013
  • -
  • Frost & Sullivan
  • -
  • 14 pages

In this study, Frost & Sullivan compares the disaster recovery options available to business, and the advances that the cloud has offered for businesses of all sizes—but particularly the SMB segment—focusing on the value proposition of Disaster Recovery as a Service. We also provide an overview of key characteristics of a strong disaster recovery solution. Finally, we review selected providers in the DRaaS space, identifying their product strengths and the cost models used in pricing such services.

Executive Summary

Several high-profile disasters over the last decade have made businesses more aware of the importance of business continuity and disaster recovery planning for their data and applications. But the available solutions have been cumbersome and costly. Restoring backed up data from a physical medium takes too much time following an emergency. Duplicate infrastructure and storage space can be cost prohibitive.

Cloud computing has offered a solid solution to this disaster recovery problem. With cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), providers offer a single solution that backs up not only data, but an organization’s complete environment, including applications; and provides a new, cloud-based environment for the applications and data to fail-over to. Most DRaaS providers’ solutions operate under a “warm site” approach to disaster recovery, allowing it to be made operational with the latest available data, quickly and cost effectively.

For cloud service providers looking to more fully utilize their investment in cloud infrastructure, DRaaS offers a way to reach new customers and gain new revenue streams. A DRaaS solution can provide recurring revenue for backup and storage activities, as well as pay-per-use infrastructure usage when the solution is activated in the case of a disaster. Furthermore, many providers have discovered that DRaaS is a powerful entry point to the cloud for SMBs: once they experience a successful fail-over, they are more likely simply to leave their applications in the provider’s cloud.

Beyond outlining the key components of a sound DRaaS solution, this report profiles five players in the DRaaS market, and compares the key components of each solution. We look at the value proposition of DRaaS for businesses, particularly the SMB market, and offer recommendations for cloud services providers looking to expand their cloud portfolios.

Introduction

Disaster recovery is to business—especially the SMB space—as exercise is to working parents: there rarely seems time, energy, or budget to fit it into the fabric of daily life. But recent years have seen increases in business-impacting disasters of all types. Anything from wild weather to hackers and terrorism can threaten the data center—and the critical technology that it houses—at a moment’s notice, causing disruptions or complete outages of the systems that businesses rely on. As such, businesses must prepare for a far wider variety of emergency situations in order to effectively maintain or recover operations in the wake of such events.

Cloud-based backup solutions—such as self-service backup to an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Storage as a Service—can be a cost-effective alternative to traditional backup methods. Data is housed in a provider’s cloud. Because clouds are multi-tenanted, pay-for-consumption services, the cost to store backup data is typically less than to purchase dedicated space that the business owns or leases. But these self-service or storage-only backup options still pose challenges. Neither do-it-yourself options nor storage as a service are specifically designed to trigger backups; thus, IT technicians must intervene to provision and maintain the resources. Also, such services capture only data, but not the associated applications; and they typically do not include a pre-configured fail-over environment. As such, the time involved to recover data and resume business operations can be onerous, particularly when the disaster prevents re-opening of physical facilities.

The latest cloud-based option in disaster recovery is the as-a-Service model. With Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), the provider offers a complete solution: backing up not only data, but the applications that run them, as well as providing an environment in the cloud for the business to fail-over to when disaster strikes. While DRaaS in no way comprises a complete business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR) solution, it can address many of the IT aspects of the plan. When coupled with measures to care for access issues, DRaaS provides a valuable and cost-effective option for businesses to consider.

In this study, Frost & Sullivan compares the disaster recovery options available to business, and the advances that the cloud has offered for businesses of all sizes—but particularly the SMB segment—focusing on the value proposition of Disaster Recovery as a Service. We also provide an overview of key characteristics of a strong disaster recovery solution. Finally, we review selected providers in the DRaaS space, identifying their product strengths and the cost models used in pricing such services.

Solving the Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Challenge for SMBs

Businesses have an increasing focus on potential disasters and how to maintain operations, or recover, in the wake of them. SMBs, particularly, recognize their need for simple, cost-effective solutions to help them resume operations after an emergency. Smaller organizations may not carry as much insurance to help them in the wake of a disaster; and their “cushion” of resources to help them recover is typically smaller as well. Coupling their potentially inadequate resources with the unrelenting need to maintain regulatory compliance—even in times of trouble—creates a significant challenge for SMBs to solve. Cloud technology can provide an effective solution that balances protection with budget and other resources.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Despite knowledge of the need for business continuity and disaster recovery, many businesses do not take adequate steps to secure their IT. Planning and implementation for IT business continuity and disaster recovery is complex. For large, well-funded businesses, a typical solution may involve creating a redundant IT environment in a different data center, and paying for the site to remain “hot”; meaning that the secondary site has all of the necessary connectivity and available infrastructure capacity turned on, at all times, in order to facilitate an immediate fail-over, in the event of an emergency. In addition to redundant facilities, data may also be backed up to some sort of physical asset, such as tapes, drives, or servers, and stored separately. In the event of an emergency, these backups may be shipped to either a secondary facility that is operational, or to the primary site after the disaster is over and access is restored. Because of the numerous considerations to recreate an operational environment, consulting services from leading providers of BCDR services are often employed to ensure the business is adequately protected.

However, the complexity and cost of an adequate solution are beyond the means of most small businesses, which stand to lose the most from business outages. The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that a minimum of one in every four small businesses will never reopen following a disaster, indicating there is clear need to protect business from failure due to lack of business continuity. This offers cloud service providers an opportunity to help bridge this gap by offering cost-effective, easy-to-implement BCDR solutions that target SMBs.

Table Of Contents

Disaster Recovery as a Service: A Gateway for SMB Cloud Adoption
Table of Contents

Executive Summary 4
Introduction 5
Solving the Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Challenge for SMBs 6
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery 6
Bridging the Gap: Disaster Recovery in the Cloud 6
Key Components of DRaaS Services 8
Disaster Recovery as a Cloud Adoption Driver 9
DRaaS Landscape: A Provider Synopsis 10
Bluelock 11
Dell 11
Earthlink 12
Virtustream 12
Windstream 12
The Last Word 13



List of Figures

Figure 1: Businesses Planning to Implement a Cloud for Backup and Recovery 10
Figure 2: DRaaS Providers' Lowest RTO and RPO 11

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