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In recent years, disaster recovery as a service has received a lot of attention because the technology offers organizations the benefits of a remote data center, but without the costs or hassles of building a remote facility. In theory, DRaaS vendors make it possible for organizations both large and small to achieve remote backup and remote failover capabilities.
In spite of the hype surrounding DRaaS, some observers regard it as little more than a buzzword, citing implementation difficulties, hidden costs and inconsistent service offerings from one vendor to the next. As such, it is important to compare a variety of DRaaS vendors before settling on a provider's offerings. Here are nine areas to consider during the evaluation process:
- Number of sites supported. Although replicating data to a single remote site may be adequate for some organizations, others prefer to have multiple replicas of their data at two or more remote sites.
- Support for customer-level multi-tenancy. On the surface, this would only seem to be applicable to resellers and cloud service providers. Keep in mind, however, that private clouds are technically multi-tenant environments. Organizations that have, or are considering building, private clouds, must consider multi-tenancy support.
- Data seeding. It can be impractical or impossible to upload all of an organization's existing data over a WAN link, while also protecting newly created data. It may therefore be necessary to seed your replicas through the use of removable media. Sadly, this feature is not supported by all DRaaS vendors.
- Performance. This consideration includes not just replication performance but virtual machine performance. Will VMs perform as well as they do when running in your own data center?
- What happens following a failover. Does the provider limit the amount of time you are allowed to host workloads in the DRaaS cloud? Does the provider offer a viable path to fail back to your own data center -- or to a different data center -- when you are ready to run the workloads on your own hardware?
- Cost. DRaaS costs can vary widely among vendors, so you must carefully consider what you are paying for and whether any hidden costs come into play. For example, some disaster recovery as a service providers bill you based on network bandwidth consumption and storage consumption. In the event of a failover, there may be a variety of other costs based on the consumption of CPU, memory and storage IOPS.
- Whether DRaaS will work based on your existing infrastructure. Suppose that some of your data is stored in the public cloud. Depending on the provider, there may not be a way to install the DRaaS software. Similarly, there are some DRaaS vendors that perform array-level data replication, and the underlying replication mechanism may only be compatible with specific storage hardware.
- How the provider's product will integrate with your existing backup and DR mechanisms. In some cases, DRaaS vendors' offerings are a perfect complement to an organization's existing backup and DR operations. At other times, disaster recovery as a service is an awkward process that adds additional layers of complexity and may, in extreme cases, undermine reliability.
- Scalability. Some disaster recovery as a service providers offer products that are designed for use by enterprises, while others cater to home or small business customers. It is important to find a provider that is not only the right size for your organization, but that can accommodate your needs as they evolve.
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