Disaster Recovery: Past, Present, and Future: Part 1

Posted 02/09/2015 by Commvault

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This post was co-written by Jesse Gambetti, Cloud Consultant, and Commvault

It’s become almost trite to talk about how the cloud is transformative across a range of IT markets and business functions. In this two-part blog series, we will shine a spotlight on a particular slice of the industry where it is in an understatement to say that cloud is a game changer.

Disaster recovery (DR) has been around for decades, but typically fallen ‘below-the-line’ on many IT departments’ priorities lists due to lack of budget, time, or know how. As a result, too many organizations had to simply operate with the ongoing risk that if a natural disaster or man-made error disrupted operations, that their data and applications could be wiped out. In the past, this was something that many organizations just lived with and adapted to.

Organizations that did have DR solutions in place were typically those with deep pockets or in industries that mandated it. The approach was expensive and resource intensive, requiring duplicate resources be kept online at offsite locations -- owned and operated by an organizations’ internal IT staff, or by outsourcing providers who often specialized in DR.

Why is DRaaS Becoming so Popular?

· Great Starting Point to Leverage the Cloud. Migrating existing on-premise applications to a true cloud environment is hard. It typically involves some application re-write, which requires specialized resources, not to mention time, to implement. With DRaaS use cases, an organization can more quickly and easily develop a strategy, prove it out, and then further expand, for example adding Test/Dev workloads. This provides bite-sized steps that organizations can take to leverage the advantages of cloud infrastructure. This is especially valuable for mid-sized to smaller organizations who are often eager to adopt but don’t have as much to spend on cloud initiatives.

  • “Invisible” to End Users. DRaaS adds capabilities that are critical, but that are behind the scenes to end users. DR solutions are developed and scenario tested without impacting production workloads. This gives the IT staff the relative freedom to try out cloud resources for DRaaS use cases, without impacting the day to day experience of (and triggering support calls by) their internal customers.
  • Avoids Infrastructure Lock-In. Certainly disaster recovery solutions do leverage and standardize on particular software or hardware products. However, by consuming the solution as a service leveraging a provider’s resources – IT teams can dip their toe into offsite recovery, without having to commit to huge capex costs and infrastructure to maintain for years into the future. That means much more flexibility and ability to innovate as business needs evolve.

How Do I Know If I Have a True “Disaster Recovery” Solution?

There is an amazing range of self-described DRaaS solutions out in the marketplace. Many provide great functionality for customers in terms of replication, backup, and offsite storage features. However, in the event of a true “disaster” where an organization’s core operations go completely down, having data replicated at another site or backup copies alone will not ensure true “recovery”. The differences between having a replication strategy and a real DR strategy involve people and processes, often encapsulated in a “runbook”. The runbook is key to actually recovering from a disaster. Without it, an organization might have all their data, but no predefined plan and staff that can execute to that plan. This is critical to knowing the priorities of what needs to be restored, and in what order to recover as quickly as possible from an IT outage.

That’s why DR delivered as a service makes so much sense for the vast majority of organizations. Services providers offering DRaaS provide not only their infrastructure capacity – but also staff with the experience in performing recoveries in a variety of real-world situations for a variety of clients. This allows organizations who outsource DR capabilities to tap into all that powerful expertise, rather than building all of that in-house on the chance that they will one day use it.

In part 2 of this blog, we will discuss the role that Service Providers play in delivering DRaaS offerings, and examples of how Commvault works with provider partners to address the particular challenges and opportunities of this market.