Many IT professionals just don’t see backups as being in the same ballpark as disaster recovery. Are these IT professionals right, or are they wrong? It’s time we stop thinking about backup vs. disaster recovery (and DRaaS) and start taking the mindset of backup and disaster recovery.
In this post, we’ll talk about the role backups play in a comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity plan. We’ll also take a quick dive into the benefits of Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).
Are backups and disaster recovery the same thing? Hint: They aren’t
The goal of any disaster recovery plan should be to get the business’s information systems back up and running as fast as the business needs them to be. Note that I did not say “as fast as possible.” That’s because disaster recovery planning, like most IT decisions, requires tradeoffs. The tighter you set your recovery goals, the more you will have to invest in disaster recovery technologies in order to reach them.
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) - The targeted length of time from failure to restoration of business systems and services after a disaster.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – The maximum amount of data loss the business deems acceptable following a disaster or failure.
Backups are less expensive than other disaster recovery technologies, but they can incur the greatest data loss and longer recovery times. A backup is a timed event that occurs periodically, so even if you’re backing up your data to the cloud, your data is only as recent as your last backup. If you back up your systems every night at 7 PM, and your systems crash at 3 PM the next afternoon, anything recorded between 7 AM and 3 PM is lost.
It also takes longer to restore backups than it does to failover to a replicated site. This is especially true if you’re backing up to physical media and then storing the media offsite. You will need to retrieve that media before you can even begin the restoration process. This is one of the many advantages of cloud backups over physical media. Cloud backups are at least instantaneously available, even if they do need to be restored.
That said, longer recovery times and greater data loss may not be an issue for some workloads. It’s hard to tell you exactly which workloads are good candidates for backups without a Business Impact analysis. As an example though, maybe your systems can handle longer recovery times and more data loss. Maybe they can’t. What I can tell you is that you can save your organization significant budget dollars by creating a pragmatic disaster recovery plan that aligns workloads to the right technologies and costs.
Setting an RTO too long or an RPO too high can put the organization at unacceptable levels of risk. Conversely, setting RPO and RTO too aggressively increases costs and ties up capital.
– The Strategic Guide to Disaster Recovery and DRaaS
So, are backups the same as disaster recovery? No, they’re not. But that doesn’t mean your backup strategy doesn’t have a place in your broader disaster recovery plan. In fact, it’s the cornerstone for planners looking to allocate their investments most effectively while protecting their organization from downtime and data loss.
Testing your backup and disaster recovery solutions
Databarracks has conducted an IT Health Check every year since 2008. In 2020, 85% of respondents said they had a disaster recovery plan as a component of their larger business continuity plan. That’s up from 76% in 2017, so businesses in the U.K. are at least heading in the right direction.
Unfortunately, only 65% said they had tested their disaster recovery plan within the last twelve months. These businesses are placing a lot of trust in their systems. ALL disaster recovery systems need to be tested at least once a year, but many should be tested much more often than that.
While Databarracks surveyed clients in the U.K., my hunch is that these organizations aren’t all that different from their U.S. peers. Business leaders don’t like to spend money and time on things they may never need. For IT professionals, it’s way too easy to move disaster recovery planning and testing down on the list of priorities as other, more urgent responsibilities crop up. While reprioritizing may seem like a good idea at the time, it can cost an IT professional (C-level execs, too) their job should disaster strike.
Read our recent blog post, Why You Should Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan, to learn more about the best ways to test your DR plan.
Learn more about how DRaaS and BaaS can work for you
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) can help ensure your business is prepared by aligning disaster recovery technologies, including backup technologies, to the recovery objectives you set for each of your workloads. With DRaaS, we’re also responsible for executing your plan, so you can respond to the needs of the business while we take care of making sure you’re protected. We’ll even test your disaster recovery plan to ensure it will work as expected, should you ever need it.
Contact us to learn more about DRaaS and the many different disaster recovery technologies.