Cloud

A Deep Dive into DRaaS: Everything You Should Know About the Components of Backup and Disaster Recovery

February 22nd, 2022

While the stakes may be higher if you’re a global enterprise, every business gets hurt when downtime strikes. At the top end, in a recent ITIC study, 44 percent of enterprise respondents said that hourly downtime costs exceed $1 million to over $5 million. And that doesn’t even include any legal fees, fines or penalties. But even small and medium businesses take a big hit when their systems go down. A Ponemon Institute study found that the average cost of a data breach to companies with fewer than 500 employees was still almost $3 million.

That’s why disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is being adopted by more and more businesses of every size and stripe. One study shows that DRaaS is currently in use by 45 percent of companies globally, and another 34 percent planned to migrate to DRaaS in 2021. With so many companies making a move to DRaaS, we thought it would be helpful to look at the functionalities and features that make it so attractive.

DRaaS Defined

Gartner defines DRaaS as a productized service where the provider manages server image and production data replication to the cloud, disaster recovery run book creation (recovery groups that are combined into a single entity), automated server recovery within the cloud, automated server failback from the cloud, and network element and functionality configuration, as needed. While that is the complete definition, put simply, DRaaS is a third-party service that replicates your systems, data, and applications from your on-premises network to other devices or clouds so that they can be recovered and restored.

The Business Case for DRaaS

Whether it’s a natural disaster like a hurricane or a flood, a regional power outage, or even ransomware, a glance at the first paragraph should be enough to convince you that the business case is already made. With DRaaS ensuring business continuity, no matter what happens, recovery from a sitewide disaster is fast and easy from a disaster recovery cloud. Add up the cost to your business in dollars and cents: lost data, lost productivity, and damage to your reputation. Just an hour of downtime could pay for a year—or many years, for that matter—of DRaaS.

From a business perspective, all that matters about DRaaS is that it can slash downtime to keep your business humming along. But from a technical perspective, it’s worth looking at the superset for each DRaaS component listed by Gartner and what that means for your business.

Replication: Distributed Backups Maximize Data Protection

Keeping it simple, data replication is the process of updating copies of your data in multiple places simultaneously. Replication serves a single purpose: it makes sure your data is available to your users when they need it.

Data replication synchronizes your data source—say your primary storage—with your backup target databases, so when changes are made to your source data, it is quickly updated in your backups. Your target database could include the same data as your source database—full-database replication—or a subset of your source database.

For backup and disaster recovery it makes sense to make full-database replications. At the same time, you can also reduce your source database workloads for analysis and reporting functions by also replicating subsets of your source data, say by business department or country, to your backup targets.

Replication in the Real World

When your data is replicated from your source database to your backup targets—remotely or in the cloud—you eliminate the potential consequences of a single point of failure. And you can be sure your data is always accessible should your primary data or any one or more of your backups be unavailable, because the cloud is the ultimate backstop for protecting your backed-up data.

Advantages of a Considered Replication System

When properly implemented, your chosen DRaaS solution, like Arcserve Cloud Services, can help you immeasurably. Benefits include load reduction because replicated data can be spread over several servers, eliminating the likelihood that any one server will be overburdened with user queries for data. You’ll also realize increased efficiency for the same reasons, delivering better performance to fewer users. Finally, you’ll help ensure high availability because—with multiple servers holding the same data—if one server goes down, the entire system can still deliver acceptable performance.

Most disadvantages related to database replication are the result of poor governance practices. These include data loss due to incorrect data or iterations, or updates of a database are copied with important data deleted or unaccounted for. Other issues include data inconsistencies, where incorrect or out-of-date replicas can cause different sources to be out of sync with each other. That can lead to wasted data warehousing costs that are spent needlessly analyzing and storing irrelevant data. Finally, running multiple servers brings inherent maintenance and energy costs.

Ultimately, what’s required is a DRaaS solution that delivers effective replication, ensuring your data is always available when you need it.

Image Management: Managing and Maintaining Your Backup Images

As you continue to add more backups over time, you’ll need to manage these accumulated images and the storage space they consume. Arcserve ShadowProtect and Arcserve Cloud Services include this functionality. With a managed-folder structure, Arcserve lets you spend less time configuring settings on backups. But that’s just the start. These solutions also provide image verification, so you can be confident that your backup image files are ready and available for fast, reliable recovery, and advanced image verification that delivers regular visual confirmation that your backups are working properly.

To reduce restoration time, risk of backup file corruption, and reduce storage space required, these Arcserve solutions automatically consolidates continuous incremental backup image files. And you can balance storage space and file recovery by setting policies that suit your needs, and easily watch over backup jobs in the user interface, with alerts sent when any issues arise.

To maintain strong system-wide performance, Arcserve lets you manage how the solution uses system resources to enable throttling and concurrent processing. And backups are replicated onto your backup targets—local, on-network, and cloud—so you’re always prepared for disaster. And these Arcserve solutions even let you pre-stage the recovery of a server, before disaster strikes, to reduce downtime.

Failover: The Core Driver for Business Continuity

Failover is a backup operational mode that switches to a standby database, server, or network if your primary system fails or is offline for maintenance. Failover ensures business continuity by seamlessly redirecting requests from the failed or downed mission-critical system to the backup system. The backup systems should be a mimic of the primary operating system environment and can be on another device or in a cloud, such as Arcserve’s purpose-built disaster recovery cloud.

With failover capabilities for your important servers, backend databases, and networks you can count on continuous availability and near-certain reliability. Say your primary onsite server fails. Failover takes over hosting requirements with a single click. Failover also lets you run maintenance projects, without human oversight, during scheduled software updates. That ensures seamless protection against cybersecurity risks.

Failover can also be tailored to fit your hardware and network setup. So, for example, an administrator may choose to have two servers running in tandem to protect against failure when maintaining a database, and include a cloud server for complete onsite troubleshooting, repairs, and updates.

One-Click Failover for Everything That Matters

You can choose to set up failover for any component of a system. That includes a personal computer, mobile phone processor, or other hardware failures, networks, and network components, including storage devices, connection paths, and web servers. In the case of hosted databases or web apps, failover lets multiple local or cloud-based servers maintain a constant, secure connection, minimizing service interruptions.

Arcserve Cloud Services also offers an optional Virtual Machine Policy that lets you configure the sequence, order, and timing for each mission-critical system, so you can just press one button to test or start a site-wide failover process.

Why Failover Matters

While failover integration may seem costly, we need only remind you about the incredibly high cost of downtime. Think of failover as a critical safety and security insurance policy. And failover should be an important part of your disaster recovery plan. From a systems engineering standpoint, your focus should be on minimizing data transfers to reduce bottlenecks while ensuring high-quality synchronization between your primary and backup systems.

Failback: Getting Back to Normal

Failback is the follow-on to failover. While failover is the process of switching to a backup source, failback is the process of restoring your data back to your original resource from a backup—once the cause of the failover is remedied—so you can resume normal operations. Failback also involves identifying any changes that were made while the disaster recovery site or virtual machine was running in place of the primary site or virtual machine.

It’s important that your disaster recovery solution can run the workloads you need it to run and can sustain your operations for as long as necessary. That makes failback testing critical as part of your disaster recovery plan. An admin needs to closely monitor any failback tests and document any implementation gaps so you can close them. Regular failback testing will save you critical time when you need to get your house back in order.

There are several important areas you need to consider in regard to the failback section of your disaster recovery plan. Connectivity is first on the list. If you don’t have an absolutely reliable connection or pathway between your primary and backup data, failback likely won’t even be possible. A secure connection ensures that a failback can be performed without interruption, and you can be sure that your source data and backup target data are always synchronized so the potential for data loss is minimized.

You also need to make sure that data that’s stored in your disaster recovery site is always secure. If a disaster strikes, it may be impossible to quickly recover. If a failover does occur and your operations are now running from a disaster recovery cloud, you need to protect the data in that virtual environment by replicating it to your backup targets immediately. That’s why network bandwidth is your next concern. If you don’t have sufficient bandwidth, bottlenecks and delays will interfere with synchronization and hamper your recovery.  

Testing is the most critical element for ensuring failback is successful when you really need it. That means testing all systems and networks, so you are sure that they are capable of resuming operations after failback. We suggest you use an alternate location as your test environment and use the knowledge gained from the test to optimize your failback strategies.

Finally, perform a disaster recovery assessment after a failback test operation is finished to document each step of the process, your results, and anything that went wrong. Then use that information to update your disaster recovery plan. Your plan should also include a back-to-business section so you can more smoothly transition back to normal across every area of your business—IT assets, documentation, network services, and any other resources or dependencies that are essential to a successful failback.

Final Thoughts

Cloud-based backup and disaster recovery solutions should be at the top of your list when considering DRaaS solutions. Solutions like Arcserve Cloud Services can protect your on-premises business systems and data in a cloud that’s purpose-built for total business continuity. That means you can access your cloud data anywhere, anytime, with certainty because the Arcserve’s disaster recovery cloud is highly distributed and fault-tolerant, delivering 99.999+ percent uptime.

Arcserve also offers the patented ability to pre-stage site-wide failover processes so you can test or execute a failover with a single button. And with Arcserve DRaaS you can recover files and folders, create virtual machines, and instantly failover an entire site and network.

While you’re diving into DRaaS, contact us to learn how you can simplify backups and make disaster recovery and business continuity a snap. Or look here to find an Arcserve partner who can help you every step of the way.