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DCS Europe Data storage and IT management:
Recovery-as-a-Service, a new emerging category as defined by Gartner, offers a stepping stone for moving on-premise production servers into the cloud using business continuity as a primary driver. Once production servers have been backed up into the cloud, if a business suffers on-premise disruption, these new RaaS cloud offerings allow secure access to production server environments, ultimately providing access to critical applications the business depends on.
In the event the production servers and applications are unavailiable on-premise, organisations can now gain secure access to critical applications via an internet connection. By storing a nightly copy of the production servers in the cloud, organisations can now copy these servers and run them in a dedicated virutal lab environment to test new software patches, or upgrades without disrupting production environments. RaaS offers a feasible way for organisations to test the viability of switching to the cloud without the risk to on premise.
We spoke to Eric Webster, CMO for Doyenz, an emerging leader in RaaS, on his view of the emerging RaaS market, how it works as well as the strength, weaknesses and likely direction of the technology.
Although the figures for the adoption of cloud vary anywhere from 30% to 70% depending on which market you look at and who you ask, robust business continuity policies and systems are actually much lower focus especially in smaller organisations. Although it is clear that continuity and disaster recovery is vital for businesses of all types, adoption is still poor.
A recent survey by analyst firm Freeform Dynamics found that 58% of small organisations of between 50 to 250 employees do not have a formal disaster recovery plan, and nearly one fifth of mid-sized enterprises are in the same position. The worst offenders are SMBs in retail, distribution, and manufacturing, with less than 40% having drawn up formal disaster recovery plans. For small and medium firms that have limited in-house IT teams, developing a business continuity position is challenging and potentially costly.
The RaaS market
Gartner sees the RaaS market being driven by midsize companies, which it defines as having annual revenues between $150 million and $1 billion. Larger companies with annual revenues or operating budgets of $1 billion or more are more likely to have established recovery management facilities, infrastructures and support teams that are too complex to move fully to the cloud. Smaller businesses are less likely to have a formal strategy for managing disaster recovery.
However, the reality is somewhat different according to Eric Webster, “If you look at 3500 customers using our RaaS, I would say a large percentage are probably under $50 million and the reason is that most didn’t have an established Disaster Recovery position and the relatively low cost of RaaS gives them an option that they can implement quickly without having to re-engineer their existing business systems.”
Even testing a DR position in a complex environment can be nigh on impossible as many web applications and services often have complex meshed relationships and dependencies on other applications and data. According to the analysts, RaaS can help reduce the complexity through the replication and recovery of application-specific and interdependent groups of Vms.
Then every night the changes on these local production servers are synchronised with the image in the rCloud through an Internet connection. Larger organisations can use a dedicated leased line for performance. These changes might only be a few megabytes as it is rare for the application software to change – it is normally just new or changed data such as transactions, invoices or stock changes.
Depending on the type of application, there might be a slight performance hit due to latency but a temporary 15% reduction in performance is acceptable compared to the complete loss of a critical system. “Some larger organisations can also fire-up dormant broadband or increase bandwidth from communication service providers at short notice to mitigate any latency issues,” Webster adds.
The end customer can now carry on working as normal as the rCloud version of the critical production server has all the same capabilities and integration with on premise; the only difference is that it is hosted remotely across the internet instead of on the local network. This could be just one server or an entire site depending on how many servers are protected by the rCloud.
When the customer has resolved the local server or site issue, a complete server image is taken from the rCloud and shipped back to the customer on removable media such as removable hard disk to help IT staff rebuild the on-site server. And just before the new on-premise server goes live, all the changes that have taken place while the customer has been using the rCloud based server can be synchronised across any broadband or leased line link.
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