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Consolidate your disaster recovery providers with care

Before consolidating your disaster recovery operations, explore the advantages and disadvantages. Can you generate an adequate return on investment for DR consolidation?

According to Quorum's "State of Disaster Recovery Report 2016," 64% of respondents use more than three different...

products from disaster recovery providers, and 26% employ more than five. But 90% of respondents were interested in consolidating disaster recovery into one dashboard. These statistics, in many ways, reflect the evolution of the disaster recovery industry.

An organization may have one or more products for backing up critical data, systems, databases and other resources. Another product may be used to back up applications, virtual machines and other operational elements. Still others may be used to create mirror images of operating environments and to fail over from a production environment to the mirrored environment. Specialized applications may be used to create the actual DR plans. Organizations with multiple locations may have products from different disaster recovery providers at those locations performing the same functions as at the primary site.

One way to consolidate DR activities under one roof is to find a disaster recovery provider with sufficient resources and experience to handle all activities -- using the same fundamental approaches as noted above -- and to build a dashboard to monitor everything.

Another option is to use disaster recovery as a service, or DRaaS. This route can offer an efficient and cost-effective way to consolidate DR activities into a single environment.

Advantages of consolidation

The ability to bundle all disaster recovery providers and processes under a single roof seems to make sense from several perspectives:

  • cost;
  • problem resolution (single point of contact for malfunctions);
  • legal (minimum number of contracts to address); and
  • operations (single point of reference for managing all DR activities).

You may also be able to recapture floor space that would have been used for DR equipment.

Disadvantages of consolidation

Among the possible disadvantages of consolidation are:

  • Engineering and design costs to reconfigure services using a single platform.
  • Selecting the wrong vendor, such as one that turns out to be unable to manage all your requirements.
  • The inability to design a single interface/dashboard that links all systems and products.
  • The inability of the vendor's platform to manage security across your data, systems, networks and other DR resources.
  • The emergence of hidden costs -- including engineering and design, installation, programming, testing and acceptance -- from the vendor that were unanticipated.

Tips for planning a DR consolidation

While disaster recovery providers would love to have you invest in their DR technology to provide you with a single product, research the prospective vendors carefully.

Visit customers who have the same or a similar offering to the one you are considering. Determine if the vendor can accommodate all your different platforms from a DR perspective, without you needing to make major and costly changes to those platforms. Make sure you won't have to make major changes in your networking infrastructure. Ask yourself how important it is to have a single product, and what you stand to gain with a single dashboard approach to DR.

You'll probably have to make some level of investment to consolidate all your DR resources. Will you be able to generate an acceptable return on investment for DR consolidation?

Clearly, the ability to consolidate DR activities and resources into a single platform makes good sense. But before moving in that direction, ask yourself the above questions, perform your due diligence and observe other users.

Next Steps

Ways to streamline backup and recovery

Step-by-step guide to choosing a DRaaS vendor

Advice to help you plan disaster recovery

This was last published in February 2017

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What could your organization do to consolidate its disaster recovery process?
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I believe DRaaS is still expensive, specially if you have invested in your DC, this might change with time.
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Backup just isn't enough, you need continuity and automation as well, a good point on this is this blog.
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A few other things to consider when consolidating DR services with a single vendor. The first are SLAs - do you need contractual SLAs regarding recovery time and does your DR single vendor offer those? The second is recovery assurance. Does your vendor offer technology that guarantees that you are able to achieve the RPOs and RTOs (Recovery Point Objectives and Recovery Time Objectives) that you require?

The point made in the article regarding customer references and even further the reputation of the vendor for "obsessed" customer support - agreed and can't stress enough.  The reason to go with an all-in-one enterprise backup and continuity solution comes down to building a trusted relationship with your vendor. Of course, the converse - having multiple vendors - doesn't seem very appealing when you're the one in the middle of their finger pointing.

Mark Campbell | CTO | Unitrends
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