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Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) products have surged in popularity as enterprise corporations increasingly migrate to cloud solutions for data centre management. Where many in-house corporate data centres previously relied on a combination of off-site strategies using tape drives to store file, code, and database archives, cloud solutions have now become normal in the industry for disaster recovery. Cloud DRaaS products rely on third-party software and/or hardware to schedule, store, and manage required backup files. By adopting “Zero Trust” policies, Software-Defined Networking (SDN), and using data encryption across the platform ecosystem, even the most sensitive information can be securely managed by DRaaS solutions that are integrated into data centre management for enterprise organisations, government agencies, and other groups that require continuity-of-service planning for operations.

Advantages of Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

IT Disaster Recovery (DR) is an Enterprise IT asset that protects the stored data and essential business information in the instance of an emergency or natural disaster. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, human error, cyber-attacks, terrorism, and other major disasters leading to mass data loss can cost your business severely. It has been reported that almost half of companies that don’t have a data recovery plan will go out of business in the aftermath of critical data loss. The cloud Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) model saves businesses on the costs of in-house software development, hardware provisioning, data centre management, web security, and server maintenance. These solutions are vital for maintaining data centre operations over time where inevitably any hardware or software can critically fail.

Applying the advantages of DRaaS can benefit growing enterprise companies by freeing up available resources for investment in other needs and adopting industry-standard tools for continuity of services. Disaster recovery products can also work with version control, automated testing, and sandbox tools for software development lifecycle management. Real-time monitoring and scheduled backups of database files and code increases the platform security for production operations. Disaster recovery plans need to consider the use of multiple data centres for archival purposes in case of damage to facilities by natural disasters. Most public cloud hosts offer multiple international data centre locations across continents for HA uptime needs.

What is disaster recovery?

With the rising frequency of man-made and natural disasters, coupled with our reliance on information technology, having a disaster recovery plan for your business is essential. So, what is a disaster recovery plan in information technology? At its core, disaster recovery is a set of policies and procedures that safeguard your business data and applications. A disaster recovery plan describes scenarios for resuming work quickly and reducing interruptions following a disaster. It’s part of data centre security and is developed in conjunction with a business continuity plan. A disaster recovery plan provides careful infrastructure monitoring so that a company’s network, applications, and users don’t experience any downtime.

Disaster recovery can be mapped according to levels of failure and the different solutions implemented to provide failover support in data centre operations. The primary solution for complete data centre failover is the use of multiple facilities in a public cloud. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers hundreds of international data centre locations. If service in one facility is lost, continuity of operations isn’t affected by the loss of hardware due to elastic server platforms running across multiple data centre locations. Similarly, if AWS or another public cloud provider is disrupted, failover can shift to Google or Azure resources on demand using VMs with OpenStack, VMware, or Azure Stack for management. This level of fail-over planning can be expensive and needs to be managed effectively through the regular auditing of service provider costs.

Complete data centre failovers relate differently to single server failures and the use of offsite backup facilities for files, databases and code. Best practice is to use a self-managed or cloud DRaaS product to configure the different applications in a data centre for backup support. Then manage the total data centre operations as a separate level of disaster recovery planning for dual support. There are disaster recovery solutions available for the application layer, the database, and the web server. These backup and restore utilities can be an important part of continuity of service plans, but may also be used in version control or for High-Availability (HA) requirements. Operating system backups are another important part of the service mesh to include in a disaster recovery plan. DRaaS or a “bring your own license” solution is required across multiple layers of a public cloud data centre for complex software operations to avoid data loss in the instance of critical failure at any level of runtime or billed on a “pay as you go” plan.

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Why a growing enterprise benefits from disaster recovery

Most business owners view disaster recovery as a practical means of ensuring that software resources, customer records, historical data, and more won’t be lost if a hardware failure occurs in data centre operations. Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) drives have automatic mirroring of storage files mandated by data centre standards so that multiple backup copies always exist in the case of single unit failure. These RAID drives play a vital role in business data backup services. Most other levels of data centre hardware operate on the same principle through tiered layers of protection.

Other than the obvious benefit of peace of mind, having an active disaster recovery plan has multiple practical benefits for complex business operations, including:

  • Cost-efficiency

    A sufficient disaster recovery plan has multiple components. These include preventative measures to reduce the risk or threat of disasters, detective measures such as anti-virus software, and corrective measures that restore lost data to help businesses quickly resume work in the aftermath of a disaster. Implementing all of these measures can save your company a lot of money in the long-run. This is especially true for businesses adopting cloud-based data management, ridding of time, cost-consuming archive maintenance, and comprehensive backups.

  • Employee responsibility

    A disaster recovery plan is only as strong as the people who execute it. Assigning employees with the responsibility of taking part in a disaster recovery process will give them more investment in the company. Likewise, when specific roles and responsibilities are assigned, employee productivity and effectiveness will increase. As a result, your business will incur less downtime. Effective training programs for data centre security that alert employees to social engineering attacks can also be implemented through human resources.

  • Elastic scalability

    Technologies like cloud-based storage simplify the process of archive maintenance, enhance the effectiveness of backups, and reduce the cost of disaster recovery. Cloud models are easily scalable, meaning you can increase or reduce your data storage capacity as needed. Scalability matters for disaster recovery as there’s increased flexibility to replicate data and add new hardware through virtualisation. Data centre automation increases network management complexity and helps to reduce costs through more efficient allocation of Enterprise IT resources.

Challenges of disaster recovery

While new technology has made disaster recovery solutions easier to implement and oversee, many businesses are still unsure about what to do in a disaster recovery scenario. Generally, businesses lack a proper disaster recovery plan, either through the absence of one, or the inadequacy of an existing plan and disaster recovery toolkit.

  • Natural disaster planning: Disasters can and do happen, particularly if you’re in an earthquake or storm-prone area, so you need to be prepared for it.
  • Social Engineering Attacks: Human error in cyber-attacks is also extremely common and can threaten your business’ important data and applications.
  • Ransomware: One of the top attack vectors, yet many disaster recovery teams don’t have an understanding of ransomware.
  • Encryption of Archives: A complex, multi-cloud data centre needs to ensure file encryption across transmission of backup copies to off-site storage facilities.

Another challenge of disaster recovery is that a lot of disaster recovery teams aren’t involved in compliance plans and also don’t realise that cloud data is their responsibility. It’s vital that businesses formulate a proper disaster recovery plan to protect against all types of disasters and be adequately trained in information management.

Does your business need disaster recovery?

Having a disaster recovery plan helps businesses survive major disruptions and prevent the loss of money, customers, and vital workloads. It’s advisable that all businesses have a disaster recovery plan in place to outline protocols for getting back online following a minor or major data loss while reducing the overall impact of downtime. Disaster recovery is essential for business continuity and can save time and money in the long-run. In platform security, it is recommended to do professional pen testing, chaos testing, and fuzz testing on software, databases, and data centre resources in advance. Disaster recovery should be undertaken as and additional and separate part of the data centre security protocols. This allows network administrators to take advantage of new cloud DRaaS utilities for better protection and analytics.

Help with disaster recovery planning

Most businesses require third-party development experts and consultants to implement data centre security with disaster recovery planning. Canon Business Services (formerly Harbour IT) is a market leader in cloud and managed services, with our experts willing and able to help your business implement a disaster recovery plan and toolkit. We’re professional resellers and integrators of leading DRaaS solutions for hybrid cloud and multi-cloud data centre security. Schedule a chat with one of our expert team members for a Strategic IT Review to help your business with continuity of service operations, backup planning, and data security.

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