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Enterprise / Cybersecurity

What is DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service)?

Ginger Woolridge
Smart business leaders have come to realize that an inability to access their data - or worse, permanent data loss - would be extremely detrimental to their operations, customer relationships, and revenue-generating capabilities. And as the reach and impact of your network has expanded, the amount of damage an outage or cyberattack can cause has as well; an outage can bar your enterprise from accessing your servers, data, operating systems, applications, network configurations, and more.

However, ensuring continual network accessibility, even if disaster should strike, is often a costly, labor-intensive, and time-consuming process. The cloud era ushered in a new way to solve the network accessibility and data loss prevention problem: Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).

This service eliminates the need for a business to invest in infrastructure to store data backups in off-site servers or data centers. Instead, DRaaS providers leverage cloud solutions to back up data, store it securely, prioritize it, and manage it so that it’s accessible when users need it.

Redefining “Disaster”

Most business leaders think through what an appropriate response to a disaster would be and put plans and processes in place so their teams would be prepared. The idea of a fire, flood, tornado or other natural disaster could cause sleepless nights if there wasn’t a plan for how the business could recover vital data and continue operations in a temporary or new location.

However, in 2020, businesses expanded their view of the types of disasters that could interfere with their ability to operate. The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of many physical facilities and offices – and those with on-premises infrastructure and applications experienced an immediate interruption when remote teams had to find ways to access the information they needed to do their jobs.

The pandemic also ignited more cyberattack activity, including ransomware that locked systems and demanded payment to release them. Ransomware can be costly. The average cost of an attack is about $80,000 (and we’ve seen it cost as high as $2.0 million) – but with DRaaS, a ransomware victim can repair their system and recover their latest data backup, avoiding ransom and minimizing downtime.

Employees can also be the epicenter of a disaster. Unknowingly, or sometimes deliberately, they can delete or corrupt vital data. DRaaS is the key to restoring it, even after it’s exceeded the time that Microsoft Office 365 or other platform guarantees its availability.

As you can see, disasters can happen for a multitude of reasons. In the event of a disaster, your team will be under immense pressure already, so choosing your DRaaS partner wisely is paramount to your enterprise’s ability to navigate an unforeseen network situation.

Define your DRaaS: RTO and RPO

A key component of your DRaaS strategy is defining your enterprise’s recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO).

RTO is the maximum amount of time that an application may be unavailable to an organization during an outage. In other words, this is how quickly your DRaaS provider will be able to stand up your network infrastructure so it can take over the needs of the production environment. RTO is typically measured in minutes.

RPO is a measurement of the actual period of data loss that a company is willing to experience during a disaster event. RPO often correlates to RTO, but typically does not match it exactly. Options could span from your DRaaS provider running a backup every 30 minutes, to constant, real time network and data replication. RPO is typically measured in seconds.

With both RTO and RPO, lower numbers are better but are also more expensive. This means that determining your RTO/RPO threshold with your DRaaS provider is a business decision, not a technical one. Your enterprise will need to assess your RTO and RPO goals and the resulting costs, then identify compromises and align them to business expectations and budget.

Less Downtime, Less Loss

Many industries grind to a complete halt without access to their network, data, and applications. For example, a call center’s UCaaS system, enterprise resource planning system data for manufacturing operations, or payment portals integral to an e-commerce business. If your business falls into this category, time without a functioning network is time without revenue.

Losses due to downtime can be staggering – the infamous 14-hour Facebook outage in 2019 was estimated to result in $90 million in lost revenue. Analysts have performed numerous studies on the costs of downtime. For example, an IDC survey of Fortune 1000 companies found the average hourly cost of infrastructure failure is $100,000 per hour.

Obviously, the costs of downtime will vary from business to business, but you can use a basic formula to determine the impact a disruption to operations would have on your business:

Divide annual sales by operating hours each year, then use that figure to estimate how much you’re losing each hour that you’re down.

It’s also smart to consider the ripple effect of negative impacts a business disruption can start, such as harm to your brand reputation, lost customers, and lost opportunities.

Although DRaaS doesn’t eliminate downtime completely, it can help you recover from an outage sooner, getting your team back to work, restoring productivity and keeping customers engaged.

Staying Connected to DRaaS

One of the most vital parts of a disaster recovery strategy when using DRaaS is your network. You need a reliable path for your systems to share network data with the DRaaS solution for backup and storage. If your network isn’t robust enough to support the increased volume of traffic, especially if you have a short recovery point of objective (RPO) and intend to back up frequently, you may not have access to all of the data you’re counting on. Your network provider also needs to ensure minimal packet loss — you need to get every megabit of data to the DRaaS provider for secure backup and storage.

After a turbulent 2020, everyone is more aware of the fact that circumstances can change on a dime. And if you’re a business leader, you need to ensure data is always available and accessible, come what may. DRaaS provides the flexibility and confidence you need to stay operational — and competitive — when disaster strikes.

Contact Lightyear to learn more about DRaaS and see if your network can adequately support your DRaaS solution.

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