Breaking Down the Benefits and Challenges of DRaaS

19 May 2014 by Technology

"As the costs of system downtime rise and businesses seek more control over their continuity infrastructure, disaster-recovery-as-a-service continues to gain adherents. While DRaaS has been around for several years, it is only in the last year or so that adoption has accelerated. What was only a $640.8 million market in 2013 is expected to hit $5.77 billion by 2018, according to a MarketsandMarkets forecast, a significant compound annual growth rate of 55.2 percent. Ensuring business continuity and reducing future infrastructure spending were two of the top reasons cited for such marked investment.

IT expenses continue to swell, even as businesses try to migrate to hardware alternatives like server virtualization and software applications for big data analytics that are supposed to increase scalability and cut down on sunk costs. The process of implementation, however, can quickly turn nightmarish, stripping companies of many of the resource and productivity gains they expected to experience in the short term and taking a much longer time to yield a consistent, positive ROI. One of the main reasons for this is that disaster recoveryand business continuity efforts can flounder as organizations make significant technological upgrades. It makes sense, as backup and availability aren't always front-line concerns for organizations upping their IT investment. But they should be.

DRaaS owes its rise to building concern about having preventative, comprehensive information security and IT backups. And as many companies jump or drift to the cloud, it increasingly makes sense to leverage DR through the cloud as well. While this effort can cause some enterprises consternation about the integrity of outsourcing, it can help others focus on building their environments without worrying about stringing DR and BC along at the same time.

Major Trends in Cloud-based DRaaS
A recent Forrester Consulting study found that backup for critical databases is one of the main concerns driving ente'‹rprises to cloud-based DRaaS. Many large organizations now need to manage databases larger than 10 terabytes in size, which carries a slew of storage, access and backup challenges. It can seem like organizations are backed into a corner by this new reality - unless they plan to continuously build out and maintain onsite data centers, they have to outsource. With such massive data reserves that need to not only be stored but backed up, companies are looking at an enormous - and likely expanding - offsite facility. So it makes sense to turn to the cloud.

As the Forrester study found, storage-related cost savings was cited as the top benefit of cloud backup. The capacity to back up data more frequently and expenses saved on administration were also highlighted as major advantages of turning to cloud services.

Besides databases, organizations increasingly need to back up large application portfolios. The study found that 56 percent of respondents now back up their application ecosystems every day - a twofold increase over the number who did so only three years ago.

With multiple management and storage concerns rising, companies are turning to cloud-based DRaaS in droves. According to the survey, 44 percent of enterprises either have or intend to expand DR capabilities to their public cloud environments. And it seems to be working - 94 percent of cloud-based DR adopters stated that it enhanced service-level agreements and reduced costs.

What Concerns Remain?
Like any developing IT support system, cloud-based DRaaS has to clear some hurdles in perception and feasibility to continue its growth. One big barrier, according to a recent Heavy Reading study, is simply education - or specifically, the lack of it. So many organizations have little experience with the cloud or with disaster recovery, never mind the enormous databases and enterprise applications these solutions are designed to support. It is only recently that midsize organizations were even able to consider DRaaS, as they were priced out of earlier incarnations.

It's important for service providers to not only understand how pressing needs mixed with a lack of knowledge can put midsize organizations in a difficult place, but to guide them through a DRaaS revolution, stated Denise Culver, Heavy Reading research analyst.

""The traditional paradigm of the dedicated recovery site is no longer viable for broad swaths of the market,"" Culver said. ""Service providers must keep in mind the applications and challenges that are most important to customers in order to remain viable in the fast-growing, cloud-based disaster recovery market.""

Lingering challenges for cloud-based DRaaS include better support for mobile and remote workers, as well as stricter security and access control. Additionally, DRaaS will increasingly focus on industry compliance standards, especially as audit penalties - not to mention the cost of data breach - continue to escalate.

Cloud-based DRaaS is Ready
While there are still some challenges remaining, the benefits of cloud-based DRaaS significantly outweigh the potential challenges. Frequent backups, reduced recovery time objectives, scalable cloud storage and automated infrastructure management enable cloud-based DRaaS to respond to the major issues that today's enterprises face."

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