The Stack Archive

Five questions to ask a disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) provider

Fri 1 Aug 2014

With the latest Forrester Wave report outlining that 41% of IT decision makers have plans to adopt DRaaS within the next year or more, what questions should you be asking DRaaS providers to set the leaders apart? Here are Jules Taplin’s top five:

  1. What does “recovery time” mean? When we discussed this question with our peers, we were surprised at the difference in the definitions of recovery time, even between the industry experts. To some it was simply the time taken to achieve “minimum business continuity objectives” (MCBO) regardless of productivity, whereas to others it was the time taken to “return to service” meaning everything is fully restored and 100% productivity can resume. When comparing recovery times it’s important to know whether you’re comparing MCBO with return to service and you should consider the impact to your business of only opting for a MCBO service.
  2. What is the testing regime and how often are full recovery tests performed? Part of the benefits of outsourcing is that your DRaaS provider will be running tests which will mean recoveries become more reliable. However, the only way to test a disaster recovery solution it to perform a full end to end recovery and test it (not just check your data backup data works). Short of doing that every day (which is possible with pre-recovery services) no company that recovers following a disaster will be able to guarantee your recovery. Therefore, if you want complete peace of mind then you should ensure that full tests are done as often as possible.
  3. How often is data replicated? Depending on your requirements you may want to understand how often data is replicated. You may require near live data replication although this can cause contradictions with recovery time. If full recovery takes more than four hours, is there any point in performing replications every 15 minutes? So it’s best to decide from an early point whether fast recovery or minimal data loss is more important to you.
  4. Can you use your DR service as a live service? And how long can you stay on the platform for following a disaster? Some companies offer a live service that you can use whilst you consider what happens to your platform long term. This allows you to make the right decision long term on replacing any damaged or failed equipment. Beware of companies that only allow you to work on their platform for a few weeks before charging as this could be an expensive exercise. Although you won’t be planning on having a disaster, 20% of clients use our recovery service every year so it’s more likely than you may expect.
  5. What’s the Value-add? Some DRaaS providers offer much more than just emergency assistance. Ask if you can restore files from your disaster recovery appliance – a useful benefit if you have just lost or damaged a file. Ask also if you can invoke without having had a full disaster (if your IT system is still working then you typically won’t be able to have access to your recovered system) Some providers will allow you to do this – for others there’s just too much work involved and you will only be able to invoke the service if it’s a genuine IT disaster.

Jules Taplin is Technical Director with Plan B Disaster Recovery


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