by November 9, 2011 0 comments

By 2014, 30 per cent of midsize
companies will have adopted recovery-in-the-cloud, also known as
recovery-as-a-service (RaaS), to support IT operations recovery, up
from just over 1 per cent today, according to Gartner, Inc.

RaaS describes the managed
replication of virtual machines (VMs) and production data in a
service-provider’s cloud, together with the means to activate the VMs
to support either recovery testing or actual recovery operations. The
location of the data centre equipment, the party housing the provider’s
cloud equipment, and the price vary by provider. 

Gartner sees the RaaS market
being driven by midsize companies (with annual revenues between $150
million and $1 billion). Larger companies (with annual revenues or
operating budgets of $1 billion or more) are more likely to have
established recovery management facilities, infrastructures and support
teams that are too complex to move fully to the cloud. Smaller
businesses are less likely to have a formal strategy for managing
disaster recovery.

“RaaS has been hailed as a
‘killer’ cloud app for disaster recovery, but the reality is that there
has been much hype and some truth,” said John Morency, research vice
president at Gartner. “Certainly, it addresses well-recognised ‘pain
points’ in IT disaster recovery management, including the need for
frequent recovery-readiness testing and the cost of dedicated recovery
floor space and facilities.”


Gartner has identified four principal pain points that
RaaS addresses:


1. Recovery
testing/exercising costs –
The costs of
traditional recovery testing and exercising often constitute a
significant portion of the annual disaster-recovery budget (sometimes
as much as $100,000 or more per exercise). RaaS can reduce or even
eliminate these costs.

2. Change skew – Consistency between the current state of the production
data centre infrastructure, applications and data, and their state at
the time of the last recovery test erodes daily as a direct side effect
of changes applied to support new business requirements. Although more
frequent testing can reduce the scope of this problem, it cannot
eliminate it.  However, because VM replication facilitates change
synchronisation between production and recovery data centre-based VMs,
VM-specific change skew becomes much more manageable.

3. Recovery configuration
startup –
Many web
applications and services often have complex meshed relationships and
dependencies on other applications and data. It’s therefore essential
to understand completely cross-application and data dependency
relationships. RaaS can help reduce the complexity through the
replication and recovery of application-specific and interdependent
groups of VMs.

4. Testing scope – Determining what testing should take place is
challenging and may require difficult trade-offs as there is never
enough money to test everything frequently enough. Some businesses test
only the most critical applications, skipping other systems to perform
the critical tests more frequently; some lengthen the time between tests
to afford bigger tests; some rotate testing among different groups
of applications; and others look at where the failures occurred in
prior tests and schedule the most fragile systems for the next recovery
test. Ultimately, the strategy for testing should maximise the
likelihood that critical workloads will be recovered on time during a
real disaster. This requires judgment about what tests target the most
likely errors and failure modes. Organisations are more likely to use
RaaS to support more critical applications, especially those requiring
short recovery times.


Among the midsize
companies using RaaS at present, two camps are forming. The first is
using server virtualisation recovery features and SAN-based replication
to deploy in-house disaster recovery solutions for some applications.
The second is implementing initial pilots for the use of cloud services
as an alternative to more traditional disaster recovery resources.


“For organisations
that have not yet trialled RaaS, Gartner recommends commencing cloud
infrastructure due diligence, especially for systems that already
reside primarily outside their data centre,” said Mr Morency. “They
should then qualify system image replication and failover support and
probe how the provider can support application connectivity during
recovery testing. They also need to check provider operations controls
for potential regulatory compliance exposure and pilot a bounded
implementation of the target configuration. This will clarify the
potential service benefits as well as the level of management support
that the in-house IT team will still need to provide.”


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