Jul 22 2020

How to Interview Disaster Recovery as a Service Providers

DRaaS is a simple way to ensure business goes on during unexpected events. Here’s what to ask potential partners.

Disaster Recovery as a Service, or DRaaS, is a simple way to ensure business goes on during unexpected events. Here’s what to ask potential providers.

Is the service a good match for my IT portfolio?

DRaaS providers vary considerably in their capabilities when it comes to virtualization, hardware and even OS selection. A starting point for any discussion is an inventory of the business’s applications and hardware/software platforms to see if there are potential problem spots. 

How will DRaaS affect my cloud strategy?

App developers are jumping on the sophisticated application programming interfaces that cloud platform providers are offering, but when that happens, the apps are locked in to that vendor. One option is to mix cloud vendor DR solutions (such as using multiple data centers) with a DRaaS for apps that are onsite or in a colocation facility; another is to restrict developer APIs so you can switch providers during a DR event. Whatever your path, zoom out to make sure that DRaaS and cloud DR are going to mesh.

How will my users get to their applications?

Some disasters, like an office evacuation, are black and white: Users work from home for a while. But the most likely disaster is a partial outage with users still in their offices. Go through all of the failure scenarios and consider whether you need additional bandwidth, a faster VPN or even a backup LAN within your building to connect you to your DRaaS provider. 

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Can the service meet my RPO/RTO targets?

Recovery point objectives (how much data am I willing to lose?) and recovery time objectives (how quickly can I be up and running?) are perhaps the most important parts of your DRaaS conversation. Providers often price their services based on these numbers, so decide what your business requires and get that on the table early. 

How is the service tested, and how often?

Good DRaaS providers will test frequently, because the more testing they do, the more likely everything will work when it’s really needed. While testing is expensive and resource-intensive, a solid test plan from the DRaaS provider is the best assurance that it knows what it’s doing and will be a calm voice of reason when an actual disaster strikes. 

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