Re-think your DR with Cloud to achieve sub-second recovery period at up to 80% lower cost

By JP Balakrishnan posted 20 days ago

  

When agencies transform their IT systems to address the digital imperative, one thing that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is disaster recovery (DR).

Being more digital means being more dependent on technology. This increases the risk of disruption due to cyber-attacks, natural disasters or hardware/software failures.

At $5600 per minute1 to $8000 per minute2, the cost of disruption can be prohibitive for agencies. It has become more important than ever to keep business continuity plans updated and build a disaster recovery solution that can help recover in minutes. However, doing this through traditional DR models can be expensive.

Compromising recovery period because of cost

Typically, agencies may use either of the two approaches for their disaster recovery solution

  1. Physical or Off-site
  1. Backup based As-a-service

The physical or off-site DR approach can offer very short Recovery Period Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO), but it also requires extensive investments in hardware (duplicate servers), software licenses, DR infrastructure and services (data protection software, replication software, high-speed connectivity etc.), and management (IT staff for maintenance & support of the DR systems).

A large enterprise (with more than 750 servers) may spend an average of $11 Mn/year to setup and maintain a physical DR site. This is a significant amount of money, especially for budget constrained agencies4.

Disaster Recovery As-a-Service (DRaaS) offers a cheaper alternative. With DRaaS, agencies leverage a third party vendor to provide DR infrastructure and services. The third-party hosts physical or virtual servers, generally on a cloud. It manages the hardware and software, services and monitors aspects of the DR solution and is responsible for providing failover according to the defined service level agreements.

With DRaaS, a large enterprise may spend less on its DR setup as compared to the physical or off-site model. However, if the DRaaS setup uses a snapshot based replication technology, then the organization is unlikely to realize sub-second RPO & RTO4.

Re-thinking DR with Cloud

By re-thinking DR with Cloud, agencies can build a highly responsive DR solution with sub-second RPO at a savings of up to 80%.

Cloud reduces storage cost and improves scalability

The cost of cloud storage is less than conventional storage options. For example, the cost of storage on AWS’ most optimized storage could be as little as $4000 a month for 1 Peta Byte of storage. Other leading cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Google are priced similarly.

DR setup is also more scalable with Cloud. Agencies can increase or decrease capacity based on their need, without investing a lot of effort.

Block-level replication improves responsiveness

Back-up or snapshot based approaches sync-up data in distinct intervals. This means no near-zero RPO and significant expense (in terms of data transfer costs). Real-time replication can deliver sub-second RPO and optimize data transfer cost, but can also impact performance of existing systems.

Continuous block-level replication technologies offer a highly effective alternative, providing a responsive DR solution at a fraction of the cost. This approach captures changes (files, file system changes, RAID configurations, databases, OS configuration etc.) in real-time and replicates only those changes to the target location in an asynchronous manner. Not only does this minimize the impact on the performance of existing operations but this approach also delivers sub-second RPO in case of failover.

Cloud-based replication area minimizes investment in licenses

Organizations can further reduce cost of their DR setup by replicating data in a low-cost, cloud-based staging area instead of the target environment, and by using automated tools to quickly copy that data from the staging area to the target environment in case of a disaster.

With this approach, organizations:

  • Don’t need to provision for duplicate hardware and software licenses all the time. They can only provision the same during a disaster or a drill.
  • Automate sync up of servers, apps etc. and minimize the resources needed to manage or monitor the DR solution.

Not only is this option cheaper - a large enterprise may have to spend as little as $650 K to set up its DR systems4 – but it also offers a number of benefits including:

  • Self-service configuration of cloud environment, replication of servers etc.
  • Sub-second RPO and RTO in minutes
  • Easy and cost-effective testing
  • Flexibility to move between cloud providers and even automatically convert machines from one infrastructure to another

 

On-premise

As-a-Service

Cloud-based

Total cost of ownership

High

Medium

Low

Cost & effort to deploy & maintain

High

Medium

Low

Simplifies testing

No

No

Yes

Scalability

Low

Medium

High

Comparison of the three DR strategies4

 

But, how to choose the right cloud-based DR solution?

There are multiple cloud-based DR solutions. Some may not support all the applications or work with any cloud provider, some may impact server performance, and some may not deliver the required RTO or RPO. Block-level replication and a low-cost staging area are just a couple of factors that organizations should consider while selecting a cloud-based DR solution. Some others include:

 

  • Automated conversion of servers to any infrastructure – As cloud technology evolves, organizations may need to convert their servers from the old infrastructure to the cloud of their choice. A solution that offers automated conversion would score over any other solution since it will make it easier for organizations to switch between infrastructures and keep their solution current without spending too much time and effort.
  • Robust security – Since data and information is being replicated, the solution should encrypt the data using the most powerful models and should also support data transmission through private networks like an organization’s own VPN.
  • On-demand testing – DR testing is important. The solution should offer options to conduct tests quickly, cost-effectively, and without extensive planning or preparation.

 

Agencies need to ensure that their disaster recovery solution can help them recover from attack within seconds. Doing this with traditional approaches (on-premise, DRaaS) can be costly. Moving DR to the cloud provides public sector organizations with the opportunity to implement a highly secure, enterprise-grade disaster recovery solution at a savings of up to 80%.

 

References

  1.  “The Cost of Downtime,” Gartner, https://blogs.gartner.com/andrew-lerner/2014/07/16/the-cost-of-downtime/
  1. “Study: Data Center Downtime Costs $7,900 Per Minute,” DataCenter Knowledge, http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2013/12/03/study-cost-data-center-downtime-rising
  1. “Finally, Affordable Enterprise-Grade Disaster Recovery Using the Cloud,” CloudEndure, https://info.cloudendure.com/rs/094-DCS-290/images/2016%20How%20Cloud%20DR%20Reduces%20Costs%20-%20WP.pdf
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