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How to compare in-house DR costs to cloud disaster recovery services

Paul Kirvan discusses how to evaluate the costs of performing disaster recovery in-house vs. using cloud disaster recovery services.

How do you weigh the costs of cloud DR vs. in-house DR? In other words, is there a threshold for the amount of data you have to protect where cloud disaster recovery services become more expensive than an in-house solution?

If your organization currently plans, organizes and manages its own disaster recovery activities, chances are, there's a budget for these activities. This can be used as a starting point for comparing the costs for managed cloud disaster recovery services.

Be sure you can identify all the activities your organization performs as part of its DR activities. If you have data backup resources (e.g., off-site storage, network resources to move backed-up data, storage devices, staffing), there are many costs for those activities.

For example, suppose you want to back up 10 TB of data. You can easily identify the costs of doing this. If you conduct risk assessments and business impact analyses, there's a cost (e.g., staffing and possibly third-party consultants) for those activities. When you prepare DR plans, there are numerous possible costs (e.g., staffing, consultants and possibly software tools that automate the plan development process). When you conduct DR tests, the costs can also include staffing, consultants and possibly software tools.

When evaluating the prospect of a managed cloud disaster recovery services provider, begin by defining your requirements and how much of the DR process you want to outsource. For example, you might wish to focus only on data backup and recovery. Determine from the above metrics how much DR costs you annually. Issue a request for proposals indicating which DR activities you wish to evaluate, and provide as much empirical data as you can from the DR metrics. Compare the vendor responses to see where financial opportunities might exist. Remember that looking for savings is admirable, but be sure that the vendor really understands DR activities and has the resources and expertise to perform a variety of DR services.

The most cost-effective approach could be to designate a cloud disaster recovery services firm for technology-focused activities, such as data backup and recovery, DR test facilitation, and system failover and failback. Non-technology activities, such as plan development, can be handled in-house or with consultant support. Turning all technology DR activities to a third party requires greater user oversight of vendor activities, and loss of control over DR activities could be risky.

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