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5 hot disaster recovery-as-a-service providers

With more natural and man-made disasters, DRaaS providers are essential to helping organizations protect their mission-critical workloads while realizing potential cost savings.

From fires and floods to cyberattacks, human error and now the COVID-19 pandemic, disaster recovery planning is essential to safeguard organizations from business disruption. Fortunately, numerous disaster recovery-as-a-service providers offer products that make it easier and less expensive for organizations to protect their critical workloads and ensure business continuity.

Here we examine offerings from five well-established enterprise disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) providers: Datto Inc., Druva, Unitrends, Veeam and Zerto Ltd. Each one offers reliable protection for mission-critical workloads as well as unique features.

Datto

Datto offers three general classes of DRaaS protection: Siris, Alto and NAS.

Datto Siris is a fully integrated backup and DR product designed to create on-premises backups that can then be replicated to the cloud. The vendor offers physical and virtual Siris appliances, as well as a Siris image that can be run from a USB flash drive.

Datto Alto is designed specifically for SMBs. It provides granular recovery capabilities, but also enables organizations to spin up VMs in the cloud as a way of recovering from more serious disasters.

Datto NAS is the company's enterprise-class offering. It's based around the use of NAS servers and is geared toward organizations that must protect larger data sets or a combination of Windows, Mac and Linux machines. Like Datto's other products, Datto NAS supports cloud-based DRaaS.

Druva

Druva takes a multi-cloud approach to its DR service. Although the company operates its own cloud platform, it also uses the Amazon public cloud. Druva protects workloads that run on premises and in the VMware cloud on AWS. It converts VMs into Amazon Elastic Block Store snapshots that can be brought online as AWS VM instances. Following a disaster, VMs can fail back on premises or be kept in the AWS cloud.

Druva is geared toward organizations that use VMware on premises, as well as in the cloud and on AWS. The most compelling benefit to using Druva is its one-click DR capabilities. The company offers a one-hour recovery point objective (RPO), with recovery time objectives (RTOs) measured in minutes. Druva provides automated DR testing based on the use of runbooks.

Unitrends

Unitrends operates its own purpose-built DRaaS cloud. The company offers a white glove service in which staff assist customers with their entire DRaaS process from deployment to failover to failback.

One of the major challenges associated with DR has always been recovery testing. An organization doesn't want to wait until a disaster happens to find out if its DR plan works.

The vendor also performs DR testing on behalf of its customers, rather than requiring them to do their own. As a part of this process, Unitrends produces reports verifying that testing has been done. These reports validate an organization's compliance with RTOs and RPOs and provide additional details such as current retention policies. Reports are emailed weekly or monthly and are suitable to share with compliance auditors.

Five pricing plans -- ranging from $529 to $2,499 per server -- are available based on service-level agreements and the frequency with which recovery testing is performed. The company also offers a plan for $839 per year that protects an unlimited number of servers, but it comes with a 500 GB data cap.

Veeam Software

Veeam bases its DR capabilities on Veeam Cloud Connect, an application-aware mechanism that transmits backup images to the public cloud. This enables Veeam to provide access to cloud-based backup repositories through a web interface. This interface tracks cloud storage consumption as it relates to backups and can be used to initiate a failover. Veeam can initiate a full failover with just a few mouse clicks, but it's also possible to perform a partial failover in which only select VMs are failed over to the cloud.

Veeam Cloud Connect is aimed primarily at enterprise-class organizations, but the company does offer its software to service providers. Veeam focuses heavily on protecting VMs and has recently added support for VMware vCloud Director. This makes Veeam Cloud Connect a good choice for organizations running virtualized workloads on VMware, but Veeam does have a long history of supporting Microsoft Hyper-V.

There is no extra licensing fee for Veeam Cloud Connect. The technology is included with Veeam Availability Suite, Veeam Backup & Replication, Veeam Backup Essentials and Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows.

Zerto

Zerto offers DRaaS as a part of its IT Resilience Platform that brings together key disaster recovery services such as continuous data protection, backup and DR, and workload mobility.

One way Zerto tries to differentiate itself from its competitors is through its replication capabilities. The company performs granular, hypervisor-level replication in near real time. This enables organizations to achieve RPOs that are measured in seconds.

One of the major challenges associated with DR has always been recovery testing. An organization doesn't want to wait until a disaster happens to find out if its DR plan works. Zerto provides automated DR testing that doesn't affect production workloads. The recovery testing has also been designed so that tests can be performed without creating any gaps in data protection.

Like other disaster recovery as-a-service providers, Zerto enables protected workloads to fail over to the cloud, but it also supports automatic failback.

Zerto is best suited for large organizations that want to extend DRaaS protection to their virtualized workloads. Although it provides offerings for both VMware and Hyper-V, the company has designed its DRaaS software to integrate with VMware's vCloud Director. As such, Zerto is probably best-suited for use in VMware shops.

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