In these competitive economic times, IT organizations are continually asked to provide an ever-increasing level of services to their respective business units while at the same time reducing expenditures. Based on my personal experience, a Disaster Recover as a Service (DRaaS) approach can help IT organizations increase the availability of business processes while substantially reducing the annual cost and operational complexity of supporting a DR solution.

For example, one provider successfully reduced DR costs for its customer by over $235,000 per month through the use of a DRaaS option. This cost reduction was the result of validating the actual RTO/RPO requirements for the customer and moving from a traditional “Hot” DR solution supporting a 4-hour RTO/RPO to a “Warm” DRaaS solution supporting a 48-hour hour RTO/RPO.

In order to appropriately evaluate the viability of DRaaS, service providers should consider the following questions:

  1. What is the required RTO/RPO for your customer’s business processes?
  2. Does the customer’s RTO/RPO matrix require “Hot” or “Warm” DR support?
  3. Does the customer’s environment currently support a Dev/Test , QA or PERF environment? Does the customer desire to utilize the DR instance as a live Dev/Test environment?
  4. What type of virtualization technologies and operating systems are deployed by the customer? Is it a VMWare/Hyper-V/Xen environment or is it a zSystem/iSystem/AIX LPAR or a Solaris LDom environment? With respect to operating systems, is it a standard Windows Server, Linux, or Unix environment? Proprietary operating systems such as zVM, Solaris and AIX tend to be more expensive to support in a DRaaS environment.
  5. Does the customer support a heterogeneous storage environment? Are they front-ending the storage with a solution like EMC’s RecoverPoint or VPLEX Metro/Geo and treating the different vendor arrays as virtual arrays?
  6. To what extent does the customer desire to automate the DR failover? Are they a candidate for VMWare’s Site Recovery Manager (“SRM”)?
  7. What level of lifecycle management support does the customer require?
  8. How does the customer desire to integrate the management and provisioning of the DR instance into their current ITSM processes?
  9. Does the customer currently support vCloud Director and vCloud Connector? Do they support Virtual Tape Libraries (VTLs) or live tape solutions?
  10. Does the customer currently maintain a traditional DR solution? Are their existing business continuity and disaster recovery plans up to date and supported by current runbooks?

The answers to these questions will provide a quick analysis of how viable a DRaaS approach will be for your customers. For all businesses, disaster recovery is becoming a strategic imperative in several ways. The reasons for the elevation of DRaaS as a strategic necessity include the evolving regulatory landscape and the fact that many critical business processes have been converted to automated digital processes.

For the cloud service provider, this inquiry becomes a golden opportunity to help customers realize the cost and efficiency benefits of DRaaS. It also provides a significant opportunity to demonstrate relevance to your customers.

Can you think of other questions to consider before determining if DRaaS is a good fit for cloud service customers? If so, please share them.