By Amy Hawthorne, VP, Global Marketing, iland.
Natural disasters and data breaches have been hitting the headlines this year. While it might not happen to you on such a large scale, any sort of outage can cause IT administrators and CIOs to lie awake at night wondering if they are well protected. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is now a mainstream use of the cloud.
This makes a lot of sense, as it helps companies avoid having to double their infrastructure with half of it waiting to recover from full or partial outages. But there are many more reasons to opt for a cloud-based DR. Here are our top three.
You can’t afford downtime
Whether you call it IT resilience, data protection or business continuity, the reality is that you cannot afford downtime. DR is not a luxury, it’s a necessity as it is critical to be always available for your internal and external customers. You know that if you can’t be reached by a customer, they’ll simply move to your competitor instead. Or even worse, your internal customers may turn to shadow IT or other things outside your purview, which can cause a whole lot of problems further down the line. When you look at the news, natural disasters get the biggest headlines, but normally that’s not what’s happening in your environment. Most of the time, you suffer downtime from hardware or software fault, malicious ransomware or careless users and accidents.
The biggest challenge is that IT budgets haven’t grown bigger to accommodate DR, yet it’s fast becoming mission-critical. For every single budget cycle, the first thing that tends to get cut is DR. You hope that for just one more year nothing bad is going to happen, and no matter how many times you talk to the stakeholders about how important DR solutions are, something will cause a budget block. However, at the end of the day it’s IT who will come under the spotlight, if an actual issue occurs.
Gartner estimates that an outage can have an average impact of $5.6K for every minute of unplanned downtime, but it’s actually quite difficult to put a precise cost on downtime. It could be anything from your ordering system, to your emails, to your presence on the web – all will have varying impacts on your business performance and when you do post-event analysis, these are the tangible effects that you can put a pound sign next to.
However, what is harder, is putting a figure against the intangible costs of downtime. Ask yourself: “What’s the perception of your customers if they can’t reach their data or application?”. If you have a hundred different applications but the one which your customer really needs is down, what’s this really telling your customer about your overall business’s ability to support their needs?
Another intangible cost of downtime is customer and internal loyalty. If your competitors are up when you’re not, your customer might decide to change his provider and the cost of retaining and/or reacquiring this customer is astronomical.
Finally, let’s consider the issue of “confidence”. Are your internal sales team confident they can get their orders processed? Are your customers confident that you can deliver on your promise? If that confidence goes down, customer and employee retention goes down as well.
The numbers are quite scary. Disasters can make or break an organisation, but everybody thinks that it’s not going to happen to them. We’ve talked with customers over the years and found that nearly 50% of organisations protect less than half their VMs with a DR plan (according to a 2018 survey conducted by Veeam).
What’s even more scary is that 85% of decision makers are not confident in their current solution’s ability to recover virtual machines (according to Veeam 2017 availability report). In the past, it would be necessary to shut down the whole data centre and spend a three-day weekend failing over and running through an extensive recovery plan. Usually, even by the end of these three days, organisations still weren’t sure this would work during a real disaster. Then Monday would come around and it would be necessary to power on and backup anyhow, and just hope that the solution in place was enough.
It’s not unusual to have some kind of IT disruption - according to Spiceworks, 77% of organisations reported experiencing at least one outage (i.e. any interruption to normal levels of IT-related service) in the last 12 months. Simply having a power failure in your data centre can affect your whole business. According to FEMA, nearly 40% of small businesses close after a disaster. Think about that, if you lose your customers’ context, your sales receipts, orders, even if you lose your customers’ confidence, how much will it cost to regain it, and is it even possible at that point?
Your backups aren’t enough
The second reason you need a cloud-based disaster recovery is because your backups aren’t enough. After a disaster, you can still reinstall applications, you can always get new hardware, you can even run your internet line. Nevertheless, your business is based around your data and, if you don’t have it, you can’t operate. Backups are not like IT resilience or disaster recovery.
The disadvantage of backups, especially when you try to recover quickly, is that they are prone to unacceptable Recovery Point Objectives (RPO). If you’re only backing up every night and something happens an hour before the backup, an entire day of workloads will be lost. In addition, backups can have painful Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). If it takes you 17 hours to recover your entire data centre from tapes, in addition to how long it has been down for, that’s a considerable amount of time.
On top of that, local backups can be targeted by malicious software, especially some nasty new ransomware packages which target your backup applications, database backup files, and will search to lock them all down.
Backups also need something to restore to. This means that if the power in your building is out, a backup is not going to help. If a server catches fire, a backup is not going to help either. It’s going to take a week to get new equipment and back it up to that.
Now, this is not to say that you don’t need backups: they’re huge when it comes to data protection, long term archives, and security compliance, but a full IT resilience plan means backups and DR.
Cloud makes your job easier
There are many reasons why some organisations don’t have a DR plan. It can be a lack of manpower, skills, space or budget. However, the cloud has come along and it’s agile, scalable, highly performing, highly adaptable and cost-effective. When you think about traditional DR and purchasing a secondary data centre, duplicate hardware, replications, licences and so on, at some point you have to take into account additional headcount to help run all of that. When you move to a cloud-based DR solution and a cloud-based service provider, you have access to the expertise of the cloud team, which makes your job considerably easier. Most people don’t spend every single day of their lives worrying about DR or business continuity, but providers like iland do, so they can help you create that security.
We often hear people saying that if they create a secondary data centre it’s because they don’t trust the cloud or they need to have certain security and compliance solutions in place and the cloud doesn’t provide it. The reality is that in a proper cloud environment, security and compliance are built into the platform. In fact, the cloud can be even more secure than your on-site environment.
The reality is that data should be able to flow in and out effortlessly without unexpected costs. Fears about security shouldn’t be minimised because it’s “just the recovery site.” Customers need to be in control at every step of the process. When disaster strikes, fears and unknowns are the worst things to have to deal with, so a DR solution should be simple, well-understood, secure and available. With a strong base for successful DR, iland customers can trust the cloud to prevent costly downtime, deliver robust backups and make their job easier – three great reasons to adopt cloud-based DR in 2019.