To read part one of this two-part series, please click here.
Cloud computing’s pay-per-use pricing model enables small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to decrease cost by purchasing only the services they use, rather than investing in extra equipment required for physical backup and recovery. If the backup takes four hours, the organization is only required to pay for the four hours that the systems were on. And if a disaster occurs, businesses pay for the time that servers are running while the problem is being fixed. This means SMBs can eliminate the ongoing costs associated with storing “retired” equipment or owning a second secure data center.
This new pricing model removes many of the barriers of entry for SMBs, which is driving adoption of the recovery-as-a-service (RaaS) model. Today, SMBs can receive enterprise level disaster recovery, including backup software, recovery infrastructure and engineer expertise for a minimum monthly payment. However, while cloud technology offers businesses a less expensive recovery option, it requires experience and expertise to navigate through the complex technology, ensuring that it is used effectively and efficiently. Cloud technology gives SMBs a faster, more cost-effective way to back up data and recover the institution.
Once SMBs are ready to evaluate technology vendors that offer RaaS, there are several factors to consider. Pricing varies but is normally based on a vendor’s expertise and delivery model. Many RaaS vendors can only support virtual environments, so it’s important to find out what percentage of the SMB’s environment can be virtualized. If that organization has legacy equipment, it will require infrastructure, and the institution will need a vendor that can restore physical and virtual equipment to provide access to both environments through a unified interface.
Once an organization has created a short list of RaaS providers that appropriately fit the technology environment, it will need to decide how much it wants to manage. Some services still require software licenses and maintenance or a hardware appliance that sits on premise. Other services completely offload the entire process, transferring the ownership of backup and recovery to the vendor, while still providing IT with control over tasks such as backup scheduling and restores.
Most SMBs have a limited IT staff, so it’s critical to stay focused on the tasks related to revenue. Many SMBs want to get out of managing disaster recovery and the constraints that accompany hardware maintenance. But by the time an environment outgrows its backup hardware, it typically warrants a complete overhaul because the product is no longer supported. Businesses that shift to RaaS not only significantly improve disaster recovery; they also gain the flexibility of cloud offerings, which can be dialed down or up according to business needs.
Contracts are another key consideration. SMBs should avoid signing contracts that exceed one year. With technology advancing so rapidly and profoundly, most business executives do not know what their environment may look like in one to three years, and there is no reason to be locked into a contract in order to get resources that the organization does not need.
With cloud computing and RaaS, SMBs can feel confident in the organization’s ability to recover data without fearing the finance department. The challenge is finding the right vendor that can match the IT architecture, provide the right service level agreement and ensure data security as well as compliance. SMBs should also remember that RaaS is still in the early phase, so it’s important for SMBs to make sure they are working with vendors with longevity and a proven track record.
Many executives do not think about a disaster until it happens. In 2011, Forrester reported that nearly 20 percent of organizations acknowledged that they do not test plans at all. The reality is that until an organization experiences an outage it will not be prepared for a major event. Disaster recovery testing minimizes the risk of losing vital data and ensures organizational readiness in case of a system failure. Recovery testing will also give the institution time to uncover and address legal issues, refine processes and reveal unexpected resources. Another key component of testing is testing an institution’s ability to quickly recover vital data and key systems hours after a disaster, rather than days.
Working with knowledgeable and experienced recovery experts will help to fill in any additional gaps in training. Training team members ensures that everyone understands his or her role in the plan and gives the institution time to uncover and address legal issues, refine processes and reveal unexpected resources–providing an opportunity for team members to practice making decisions in tense situations.
RaaS gives SMBs a more cost-effective, attractive outsourced solution for disaster recovery. By partnering with service providers with proven track records, SMBs reap the benefits of next-generation cloud technology, while having expert staff at their disposal.