There has been a ton of misinformation surrounding Disaster Recovery as a Service  Many purveyors advertise low cost, then get you with hidden fees like "Block-Blob" storage costs and access charges. Don't be fooled; unless the provider is willing to giver you a quote and a price-guarantee, you will pay more than you are anticipating.

Offsite Backup

Offsite Backup is just that; incremental transfer of your data or VM images to another site. The provider of the service is at liberty to compress, de-duplicate, or archive your data in any legitimate way of their choosing. Furthermore, some providers grant only image-level access (whole VM at a time), while others also allow file-level access to data. Offsite Backup services can also dictate the terms to return your data in a time of need. Not only may there be upcharges for recovery, larger environments (10+ TB) may be faced with having their data returned on physical disks by common-carrier, courier, or private jet!

Some higher-end Offsite Backup providers also have Compute resources available (a Compute Cloud) onto which you could transfer your backups for recovery. There will most always be an upcharge, not only for transferring the data, but also for powering-on. Moreover, think what’s going to happen when the next Hurricane Sandy hits; the big players will gobble up all of the resources and the rest will be left standing in the rain (pun intended!).

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DraaS)

DRaaS providers are those organizations that dedicate Compute resources to customers in case of a disaster. The most legitimate of these providers use a technique called Replication, to create a copy (a “Replica”) of your working systems in a Compute Cloud. With DRaaS you have a known-amount of committed resources in which you can power-up your systems and terms such as network bandwidth and IP Addresses are clearly stated in advance.

With DRaaS, it is possible to test and validate your Disaster Recovery plan on a schedule in order to maintain compliance with standard such as SSAE 16 , ISO 9000 and more.

What You Should Ask Potential DR Providers:

Before you commit, we would like you to consider the following questions, and how your chosen DRaaS provider would answer them:

Q: In the event of a disaster, are there committed resources on which I can power my VMs?

A: If no, this is probably not a DR solution, rather an offsite backup and Data Warehousing solution

Q: If I need to move/transfer my data before running a DR plan, how is my data transferred to the Compute Cloud where it will run (Disks in the mail or online)?

A: Plans which require transfer of data are offsite backup and Data Warehousing solutions. Plans of this type typically require over 24 hours to move/transfer data.

Q: What is the Replication Point Objective (R.P.O) into the DR solution?

A: R.P.O. over 1-hour is often not acceptable for enterprise

Q: What is the Recovery Time Objective (R.T.O.) during a disaster?

A: R.T.O. should allow users to begin failover immediately in the event of a disaster

Q: Is there a clearly stated and understandable price-structure so I understand costs if my needs change?

A: Yes! Overly-complicated price and rate structures are the ruse Big Cloud providers use to cause customers to sign-on for one amount and end up paying something vastly different.

Q: Does this solution allow me a minimum of 1-Week (168 Hours) of scheduled DR testing at no additional charge?

A: It sure does! If the answer is no, this may not actually be a DR solution. If there is an additional charge for testing, is that charge and all associated expenses clearly understood? (See question #5)

Q: During scheduled DR testing would my VMs/replicas power-on in the Compute Cloud where I would run in case of a disaster?

A: If no, this may not actually be a DR solution. Any reasonable test is invalid if it does not use the resources that would be committed in case of a disaster.

Q: What are the up-time statistics in the Compute Cloud where I would run in case of a disaster?

A: The standard is “Five Nines” 99.999% up-time, and that's what we provide. Many providers frequently violate client SLAs. Ask if the provider is in violation of any client SLAs.

Q: Before I commit to this solution, is there a trial-period where may I initiate a call at a time of my choosing to your actual technical-support system (not a technical sales associate) to judge response time, technical proficiency, and language skills?

A: Due-diligence should mandate a test-drive of this solution’s support-system at a time of your choosing, as you need to understand the response-times, technical proficiency and language skills of actual Technical Support Representatives. The vendor is likely to try to direct your calls during a trial to a highly-educated and English-language proficient Technical Sales Engineer (TSE). Beware! This is not representative of an actual support call at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday afternoon in advance of Hurricane Sandy!

Q: Is the DR provider audited to any known or acceptable standard such as SSAE 16 SOC Type 2?

A: If they're not, stay away! Being audited to such a high standard ensures you data is as secure as possible, providing you the absolute peace of mind you deserve.