Backing up critical data is clearly a major component of any comprehensive Disaster Recovery (DR) plan, but is that all that is needed to ensure your business is safe from catastrophe? What is the difference between DR and Backup? Is DR the same as DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service)?
Some definitions of these terms will help create a better understanding of the best way to preserve business continuity, in case disaster strikes. Of course there is no “one size fits all” solution to address the areas of backup, DR, and business continuity, but these definitions will help direct you towards the most suitable DR plan for your enterprise.
What is Disaster Recovery/DRaaS?
- Disaster Recovery (DR) is the replication of hosting of servers (physical or virtual) from a primary “production” location (typically, your onsite data center) to a secondary “DR” location (a co-located data center, or to the cloud). This replication provides fail-over in the event of catastrophe, as well as fail-back (recovery) when the production data center becomes available.
- Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is DR that uses a service provider’s cloud-based secondary data center location and compute/storage infrastructure. This is especially critical if your enterprise does not have a secondary data center location.
- DRaaS On-Demand is DRaaS that uses a service provider’s cloud-based secondary location, but you only pay for server fail-over/recovery when it’s needed. However, you will still have to pay for the ongoing backup data costs.
What is Backup?
- Backup can refer to data backup, or in a DR context, virtual server environment backup. Data backup is simply an extra copy of data. Virtual Server Backup is a snapshot of your virtual machine(s), taken regularly (typically daily), stored in a separate location. This backup serves the short-term purpose of restoring the virtual environment.
- Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) is backup to a service provider’s cloud-based secondary data center.
What About RPO and RTO?
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) are two fundamental components of a disaster recovery plan. Each addresses business decisions that must be made as part of a disaster recovery plan:
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO) determines how frequently data backups are created to addresses the acceptable level of data loss a business is willing to handle between backups. Businesses need to consider how much data they are prepared to lose if disaster strikes.
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the time it takes for a business to resume regular activities following a catastrophic event. The business consideration here is: how much post-disaster downtime is acceptable before recovery is completed?
The Difference between Disaster Recovery and Backup
Disaster recovery covers the plan to be used to quickly reestablish business operations following an outage. This includes access to applications, data, and IT resources. Paramount to this recovery process is how fast and how non-disruptively you can recover. Keep in mind that data recovery alone, although part of the recovery process, are NOT sufficient to guarantee business continuity. Understanding that backup does NOT equal DR is a major move toward mastering the data protection challenges every enterprise will face.