Cloud Backup as a Service and DRaaS: What’s the Difference?

disaster recovery

Cloud Backup as a Service (BaaS) means that you have turned over all or portions of your backup and recovery process to a cloud-based backup provider. It’s not a simple as putting one foot in front of another: you need to do due diligence on your provider, there are WAN speed requirements, different cloud infrastructures have their own advantages and disadvantages, and recovery will have to toe the RTO/RPO line. But all in all, cloud BaaS is simple to understand.

What is not so clear is how Disaster Recovery as a service (DRaaS) figures into this picture. While cloud-based backup services manage data and application protection and recovery, DRaaS provides continuous processing during the recovery process. Both services work together to ensure the fastest possible recovery from a disaster.

What is Cloud Backup as a Service?

BaaS is cloud-based backup and recovery. This is one of the most basic connections between on-premise and cloud. IT is responsible for setting service levels based on the level of service they contract, such as setting backup windows and assigning RPO and RTO service levels by data priority.

DRaaS (sometimes called RaaS) is failover processing to the cloud. It builds a hot standby site in the cloud for uninterrupted production processing, and continues to run until IT repairs the on-premise environment and issues failback order. Failover may be automated based on threshold events or manual based on alerts. The failover site can be located on the public cloud or any DRaaS vendor owned cloud; even on-premise in a private cloud.  (If you need to keep your data behind your firewall, you can still take advantage of DRaaS if your service provider supports on-premise deployments.)

(Note that DRaaS is not strictly confined to virtual environments, nor is it necessarily cloud-based. For example, some vendors place failover appliances with cloud connectivity onsite, while some offer failover services for physical and virtual servers in a managed remote site. However, the majority of DRaaS offerings address the most common usage of managed DR services: failing over a virtualized environment to the cloud.)

When you invest in DRaaS you will choose the level of service that you need and can afford. Your biggest expense will be duplicating your virtual infrastructure. This does not mean that if you have a 100% virtualized environment your service provider must duplicate the entire virtual environment in the cloud. Choose your Tier 1 applications for failover because the cost for running two active environments is not negligible. The failover system duplicates the protected VM environment, which continuously replicates VM images to the cloud for seamless failover.

When you choose a DRaaS service, keep these points in mind:

  • Most DRaaS providers offer failover to a virtual data center in the cloud. Cloud-based discovery as a service runs virtualized servers in the cloud, which are independent of a physical data center disaster.
  • Local staff expertise. Your IT staff should be familiar with virtualization. Choosing DRaaS does not absolve you from hiring virtualization admins since you must still work with the provider.
  • Sufficient WAN performance. You will need to invest in sufficient connectivity to back up, restore and failover as per service level agreements. Your vendor should provide WAN acceleration features to help.
  • Due diligence. A secure cloud environment in a certified data center is a minimal start. You will also want to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different cloud infrastructures including the public cloud, vendor-provided clouds, and private/on-premise clouds.

Remember that making decisions around DRaaS will take time and money. Even with a managed service, the ultimate responsibility for your applications lie with you. You are paying for insurance that you hope you never have to use.

However, business continuity – not to mention peace of mind – are not small considerations. And should there be a data center disaster, rather than having a DRaaS in place will be invaluable to recovering applications and data before suffering serious business harm.