Common sense would lead us to believe that implementing a disaster recovery (DR) program should reduce the risk within your environment. For the past 20+ years, as traditional DR technologies and techniques were deployed within customer environments this “de-risking” was true.

The big brand vendors would apply well known processes to evaluate a customer’s risk, apply known, trusted (albeit expensive) technology, and the output would be a comprehensive DR program that could be executed when needed. This process worked extremely well as technology evolved in a specific way, especially when traditional servers and custom applications kept operations running. While technology sped up, became miniaturized and cheaper, the overall model of how DR was utilized remained relatively static. Backups held more data, replication moved data faster, recovery times got quicker, but the technology-use model remained relatively the same.

The cloud changed that paradigm, and the standard cohort of big brand vendors has been reeling ever since.

In its inaugural Magic Quadrant for Disaster Recovery as a Service, which was released in April 2015, Gartner foreshadowed this perfectly. In the Strategic Planning Assumption, Gartner predicted that “By 2018, the number of organizations using disaster recovery as a service will exceed the number of organizations using traditional, syndicated recovery services.”

Gartner estimates the Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) market will nearly triple in the next three years to a revenue point of $3.4 billion by 2019, noting, “From 2016 through 2020, the use of either DRaaS or IaaS to support the failover of production applications will grow by more than 200%.”

And it’s not just major enterprises that will be making the transformation. With the increase in the adoption rate of DR services among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) the DRaaS market is expected to gain major traction. The key forces driving the DRaaS market are its features of faster recovery, cost-effectiveness, enhanced flexibility, and simple testing.

This shift is echoed by 451 Research in their Managed Infrastructure Market Overview 2015 report, “End-user data reliably indicates that backup, data protection, DR and business-continuity services are among the most popular services that enterprises want to take to the cloud.”

Over the past two years we have seen this industry experience dramatic breakups, acquisitions, divestitures, and the like. All of which have caused the big brand vendors, the ones that were providing DR technologies to long-time customers, to shift their focus towards service providers with DRaaS and cloud as a primary delivery model.

While the traditional vendors scramble to find their new niche in the market, the newer, fast moving service providers are taking hold and leading the way with new DRaaS technologies, delivery models, and capabilities. At the core of this new DRaaS product strategy is the belief that customers need to have access to more than just one technology, more than just one loud platform, and a service provider that acts as a partner to help them manage it all.

One example of this shift to a new DR paradigm is a software-defined DRaaS program — a suite of capabilities that focuses on three main pillars:

  • Hybrid complexity: Recognizing the hybrid complexity of deployed DR assets, in the cloud, as well as at the customer’s premise.
  • Managed resilience: Providing managed resilience across all DR assets (tools), not just those that are cloud-based.
  • Software-defined integration: Embracing software-defined technologies to enable users to integrate this complexity as well as access these DR assets more effectively.

Back to our initial question: how do you de-risk your DR program? You have already made sizable hardware investments. In short, partner-wisely. Here are a few important considerations:

  • Partner with a provider who utilizes a consultative approach, incorporating technologies that you may already be utilizing, recommending upgrades when necessary and assessing your current cloud infrastructure.
  • Choose a provider that will have the experience and in-house expertise to not only evaluate your options but to successfully deploy the right solution to achieve your organization’s business objectives.
  • Look for flexibility, the ability to deploy DRaaS — into a private cloud environment or a hyperscale cloud environment such as Azure — where it makes the most sense for your business.

So in adopting a software defined DRaaS solution, do you need to scrap everything that you have invested in for the past 20 years to start from scratch? Absolutely not, although there are many providers who would encourage you to do so because they offer limited DR solutions. The key is to achieve managed resilience that will allow you to access and orchestrate hybrid technologies across a managed platform. Through this capability, the investments you have made in your DR assets are once again accessible in the cloud, and your economics of DR delivery are dramatically increased through managed services programs.

If you aren’t already considering a move to the cloud for DR, the time to start is now to ensure that you are able to implement DR resiliency across all of your applications while navigating and optimizing the complexities around hybrid, software-defined integrations.


This article was originally posted “Managing Disaster Recovery Through A Software-Defined DRaaS Program” from Cloud Strategy Magazine.