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Why BaaS when you can DRaaS?

Posted: May 24, 2016   /   By: Jason Buffington   /   Tags: BaaS, DRaaS, BC/DR (business continuity/disaster recovery), Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS)

baas or draasThe question isn’t as simple as it might seem:

  • There are lots of great reasons to embrace modern Backup as a Service (BaaS) solutions, including governance, extended data preservation, IT oversight of endpoint and ROBO backups, etc.
  • There is also one overwhelmingly great reason to utilize Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) — enhanced availability of servers.

So, the question really is, can you gain a DRaaS outcome from a BaaS solution? And honestly, it isn’t just a cloud-consideration. You could just as easily ask, can you get BC/DR agility from a backup tool?

The answer is, it’s really, really hard to get BC/DR from a Backup/Restore tool, in or out of a cloud — particularly due to data flow and the need for better orchestration. Here is a short video I've recorded on the differences between backup and replication, and the importance of orchestration and workflow:

You may possibly have a data protection product (or service) that offers both. If you do, it is likely to be doing both backups (transformed) and replicas (readily-usable), which builds good cases for:

  1. Deduplicated/optimized protection storage
  2. Orchestration/automation workflows as part of any modern data protection management framework.

As always, thanks for watching.

Video transcript:

Woman: The following is an ESG video blog.

Jason: Hi. I'm Jason Buffington. I'm the senior analyst at ESG covering data protection. For the past two years, we've seen significant interest in leveraging cloud services as part of one's data protection strategy. In fact, in ESG's last two annual IT Spending Intentions reports, when asked about the use cases for cloud based infrastructure services, improving data backup was number one. Disaster recovery was number three.

There are lots of different ways to gain backup services, including augmenting on-prem backups with cloud storage all the way to a full-fledged backup as a service, BaaS. Similarly, for business continuity disaster recovery goals, you might utilize colo space, you might use infrastructure as a service, hybrid architecture or a full-fledged DR as a service, DRaaS.

With so many choices, it can be really confusing. I'd like to offer what I believe are the single biggest differences between them, which is data flow and orchestration, which will ultimately affect your agility and your business outcome.

From a data flow perspective, most backup technologies transform the data as part of transmitting it to the secondary repository, on-prem or cloud, which is what necessitates doing some kind of a "restore" to get it back. This transformation usually optimizes for storage but can limit the immediate usability or the recoverability of the data unless you restore it or basically un-transform it back to its original state.

In contrast to that, most BC/DR and availability technologies replicate the data in closer to their original state, which makes the data more immediately usable when needed. One method is not better than the other. Backups optimize for multiple versions, while replicas are designed for usability of typically only the most current version.

There are exception to the rule, but in general, the more immediately usable the data, the less transformed it is within secondary storage and that's a trade-off between storage efficiency and IT resiliency.

The other main differentiator is workflow orchestration or automation. It's one thing to have copies of VMs sitting in some secondary repository some place, but availability in BC/DR are more than just powering them up. For example, if you have a multi-VM application with a web front ends and connecting to middleware, being serviced by a pair of database servers, all of which have to be authenticated by active directory. You can't just highlight those eight VMs, right-click and say, "power on." You have to have a workflow. You have to have automation that's defined in advance and runs when you need it.

Those same orchestration, automation mechanisms can also give you sandbox testing. You can test the ability to bring VMs online without impacting production, or you can test the recoverability or the restorability of VMs with even granular data within that VM on a regular basis.

There are other differences, but I hope this starts to get you thinking. Both kinds of technologies whether implemented within public or dedicated cloud services, in a hybrid architecture or even just between on-prem locations, all provide huge value and modernizing one's data protection capabilities. Just understand what you're getting and be clear on what you need.

I hope this was helpful. I'm Jason Buffington for ESG. Thanks for watching.

data protection and the channel

Jason Buffington

Jason Buffington focuses primarily on data protection, along with Windows Server infrastructure, management and virtualization. He has concentrated on data protection and availability technologies since 1989 and has been a Certified Business Continuity Planner (CBCP), a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Trainer (MSCE/MCT), and a Microsoft MVP in file system and storage solutions.

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