Five Things You need to Know to Get Raas Right, Part II

Last time, we looked at the BIG difference between backup and Disaster Recovery. Today, we’ll discuss how to prioritize what to protect, and how to deal with heterogeneous environments…

Prioritize Servers and Applications

The same mentality that leads companies to use backup and forego DR also negatively affects the way they think about prioritizing their protection requirements. Thinking about recovery in terms of which files to protect is the wrong way to go; you end up lost in the weeds and not looking at things systematically.

With RaaS, you’re protecting entire servers, so the focus should be on which servers are critical to the company’s survival, which are important but not critical, and which ones don’t require a DR plan. If you are a law firm, you’ll probably put your email and document management system in Tier 1; if you are an online retailer, your e-commerce site (web server, app server, payments) should be Tier 1. In any case, the point is to match both your Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Objective to the importance of the server.

The reason for prioritizing may itself be phasing out. In traditional DR solutions, companies had to rent co-lo space, buy hardware, bandwidth, etc., and then watch it sit idle until there was a disaster. Companies became cost conscious, and started prioritizing their business applications, protecting just the most critical ones, in order to save money. But RaaS changes the economics of DR solutions. By taking advantage of the elasticity provided by virtualization, and the economies of scale that public cloud based over-provisioning allow, RaaS solutions often cost just a fraction of traditional methods. This has allowed organizations to include more of their applications in their DR plans, making their businesses safer.

Dealing with a Heterogeneous Environment

Protecting your servers would be easy if they were all the same. A lot of customers and vendors talk about DR as if all their servers were Windows OS running on VMware on an x86 box. And indeed, a great number of business applications today run this way. RaaS solutions that only work on these kinds of servers seem well suited to the very few companies that have nothing but this type of environment.

But in practice, companies don’t have such homogeneous data centers. Their Oracle database runs on Windows, but their Apache web server runs on Linux. The Active Directory server runs virtually, but the ERP system runs on a physical server, and it’s Solaris. The home office is standardized, but a couple of the remote offices have their own non-standard servers. Et cetera. The point is that when making a DR plan and selecting a RaaS provider, you need to include all the critical business applications, regardless of platform.