Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is defined as a cloud-based service model used by organizations to support their IT infrastructure in a third-party cloud environment, providing disaster recovery solutions for IT-enabled systems subject to disasters. This article explains how DRaaS works, along with some key examples.
- What is DRAaS?
- How DRaaS processes work
- DRaaS Examples
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) refers to a cloud-based service model used by organizations to support their IT infrastructure in a third-party cloud environment, providing disaster recovery solutions for IT-enabled systems subject to disasters. DRaaS allows companies to regain control over the functionality of the IT fabric when disaster strikes.
This "as a service" business model implies that the cloud service provider is fully responsible for the disaster recovery management of an organization. In this way, companies do not have to deploy their own resources while recovering from uncertain events.
Common disasters that have hit IT organizations hard include cyberattacks; system failures; power outages; natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and forest fires; and many more. While such events are unavoidable, disaster recovery solutions can be critical to business continuity.
DRaaS models tend to copy the computing, storage and networking functions of an IT ecosystem onto virtual servers hosted in the cloud or in a service provider's cloud.hybrid environment. This agreement allows organizations to run their applications on third-party infrastructure instead of waiting for disaster-affected physical servers to be repaired. As a result, business operations can continue without interruption, ensuring faster disaster recovery times and instant problem resolution.
Once the physical systems are recovered, data and IT processes migrate back to the original IT structures. While customers may experience increased latency in their day-to-day activities when accessing a service provider's cloud rather than their on-premises server, the overall business cost of system downtime can be much more significant. Therefore, companies need a recovery plan to keep their daily business running even after a disaster. Depending on their requirements and budget, organizations can purchase DRaaS services from third-party providers through a subscription or pay-per-use model.
Types of DRaaS models
The global DRaaS market is dominated by Amazon (AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery), IBM Corporation, Microsoft (Microsoft Azure Site Recovery), VMWare, Zerto and others. Organizations often cede control of all or part of their disaster recovery plans to these top-tier DRaaS providers. Based on the SLA (Service Level Agreement), DRaaS providers employ the following deployment models to deliver services:
- DRaaS management– In a managed DRaaS model, all responsibility for disaster recovery is transferred to the service provider. This model is suitable for companies that do not have the necessary knowledge to deal with unforeseen events.
- assisted DRaaS: In assisted DRaaS, only certain aspects of the disaster recovery plan are handed over to external providers. The rest is controlled by the organization itself or by its clients.
- Self-Service DRaaS– In self-service DRaaS models, the organization itself or customers plan, test, implement, and manage disaster recovery strategies by hosting backups on remotely located virtual systems. This is the cheapest DRaaS model and is suitable for companies with the necessary experience.
DRaaS is beneficial for any organization that relies on IT-based business systems. These are the main benefits of DRaaS:
- faster recovery: DRaaS allows businesses to function normally while restoring disaster-affected components and services quickly (hours, minutes) based on SLA.
- affordable solution: DRaaS provides organizations with a cost-effective solution to protect themselves from the consequences of IT downtime.
- specialized recovery: IT teams find it difficult to research, test and validate various disaster recovery plans, as they lack the necessary knowledge. With DRaaS, the burden of disaster recovery planning is placed in the hands of qualified experts.
- Resource Optimization: As a cloud-based service, DRaaS offers an elastic usage model, where the customer pays only for what they consume (pay-per-use model). This is in contrast to traditionally available customer-operated disaster recovery data centers, where the cost must be paid upfront.
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DRaaS facilitates backup and recovery, real-time data replication, and full or partial data protection. DRaaS models typically provide services in cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud configurations.
DRaaS clouds can beprivate, public or hybrid and serve small, medium and large companies. DRaaS is essential for various industries, from the financial sector such as banking, government agencies, IT, telecommunications, and media and entertainment, to the manufacturing and logistics sectors. Although DRaaS has many applications in different fields, its workflow remains the same.
Now let's understand the main phases involved in working with the DRaaS model that decide the scope and cost of the DRaaS process.
In this phase, state snapshots of applications that require protection are taken at a rate that matches an organization's RPO (Recovery Point Objective) requirements, where RPO refers to the amount of time the organization can withstand data loss during a disaster event. The captured snapshots are then replicated to the DRaaS data centers, which store all snapshots on a FIFO (first in, first out) basis. Some DRaaS providers also offer automatic snapshots as part of a "zero data loss" policy.
In this phase, after the disaster event, user access to data and applications is transferred from on-premises servers to DRaaS data centers, where replicated snapshot instances are present. With failover, applications can continue to run despite network downtime until operations are finally restored.
Failback is the final phase of a disaster recovery plan. Once the disaster event is resolved, user access is transferred back to the original on-premises servers or data centers. Once this phase is complete, the system restarts its three-phase process in preparation for the next disaster.
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With the exponential growth of data in all sectors of the industry, the need to back up public and private data has become essential. It has been observed that unplanned outages in the corporate world have significantly contributed to data loss. As a result, businesses are sometimes irreparably damaged, resulting in a permanent shutdown.
However, backup services can be useful in these cases, as they protect companies from unexpected disasters. Supported by this fact, the DRaaS market has recently exhibited considerable growth. According to a March 2022 report by ReportLinker, the global DRaaS market accounted for $5.79 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $26.73 billion by the end of 2026.
With the digital transformation of companies, there has been a notable increase in thecyber threats. Organizations are also wary of potential data breaches that could compromise their sensitive data. Businesses rely on AI and machine learning-based DRaaS solutions to counter external threats and enable faster recovery. These learning algorithms proactively detect outages and remove them before they can disrupt the company's business operations. Unitrends is an example of a US-based company offering AI-powered backup services to businesses affected by ransomware attacks.
Some of the common real life examples where DRaaS can help restore data and applications are:
1. DDoS attacks
Consider a disaster recovery example where cybercriminals launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on an organization. In this type of attack, a network is bombarded with illegitimate requests to keep itself busy and can even block legitimate data from entering the network. As a result, connecting to network databases becomes a challenging task.
A recent example of DDoS attacks points to those that Russian hackers carried out in March 2022 on Ukrainian government websites shortly before invading the country. In this scenario, it is vital to have a backup plan in place to ensure that routine operations are not interrupted. One way to approach this would be to maintain backup data server images and design virtual cloud servers based on images or need. The process may not be perfect at times, but having data and image backups can help restore your network.
2. Damaged data centers
Data centers can sustain permanent damage from natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and network outages. For example, recent events like Hurricane Sandy, the California wildfires, and also the Texas power outages reveal the importance of backup and recovery services. Such disasters tend to destroy all or part of a data center, including servers, drives, and other hardware components. Due to climate change, these types of events are becoming more common these days.
Solutions to these problems that companies can implement include keeping copies of data off-site, keeping data backups in remote data centers, and even keeping a copy of the records in the clouds in different regions. Also, quickly moving data to another infrastructure is just as crucial, as restoring backed up data over the Internet can be time consuming. In short, it is unavoidable to maintain offsite copies of the data and devise a methodology to restore the data in a new structure quickly.
3. Data manipulation
In this type of disaster event, hackers insert malicious code into a company's sensitive data to ultimately render business data unusable. These codes can also spreadmalwarebetween network systems.
You can prepare for such a scenario by backing up critical copies of data that allow you to recover the necessary versions of data that are critical to maintaining business continuity. Performing multiple data backups at different times (daily, weekly, monthly) may help resolve the cause. Instead of deleting the old copies, it is essential to keep them intact for multiple backups to help faster recovery. Also, if you know what data has been tampered with, you can perform recovery operations on only the damaged data, keeping the data clean as it is.
4. Ransomware attacks
In addition to the above examples, several companies were affected byransomware attacksRecently. According to an October 2021 report from Coveware, typical ransomware caused an average downtime of about 20 days in Q4 2021. In 2022, Connectwise published another similar study showing how ransomware affected at least two out of every three medium-sized companies over the past year and a half.
On May 7, 2021, the Colonial Pipeline Company reported a ransomware case in which the company was forced to shut down its pipeline system in response to the attack. Although operations were restored on May 13, 2022, due to immediate recovery plans, it shows that DR planning is a must for organizations.
Companies like VMWare are taking steps to implement DR plans. In July 2020, VMWare acquired Datrium with its DRaaS goals in mind. With this acquisition, the company expanded its DRaaS reach and reduced the chances of business interruption after a disaster. Additionally, COVID-19 has accelerated digitization, further driving the adoption of DRaaS.
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The modern world of IT requires organizations to have adequate disaster recovery plans in place to deal with the consequences of unknown disaster events. Furthermore, with the sophistication of technology and the increased adoption of the cloud by organizations, the risks of cyberattacks have increased at an alarming rate. A world-class disaster recovery solution can help recovery teams and companies protect their data and optimize business operations.
Successful recovery strategies must be easy to implement, reliable, and cost-effective. These DR solutions ensure that businesses of all sizes can take advantage of multiple DRaaS services, thus maintaining business continuity even in the most challenging of times.
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