The inefficiency of tape data backup and the cost of a complete mirrored infrastructure explain the buzz around the concept of recovery as a service (RaaS). RaaS is a new model of disaster recovery in which service providers typically manage, own and operate the disaster recovery systems. Organizations which once bought and operated their own disaster recovery infrastructure now have the option to outsource it. RaaS promises potentially lower costs, lower management overhead and better, more consistent recovery performance. With so many possible benefits, you might wonder if RaaS will someday become the industry standard.

RaaS and the Art of Lucha Libre
Although Mexican wrestling may not be the first thing you think of when you hear disaster recovery, elements of lucha libre (free wrestling) relate well to RaaS. In tag-team matches, teammates gracefully switch back and forth to defeat their opponents. To create a knockout RaaS experience, there are two components that must tag team each other like masked luchadores:

  1. Storage: If you’re going to make backups of your production server workload, you’re going to need storage. Storage as a Service has already become commonplace, with services like DropBox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and many more. But even if you have storage, the key is in the recovery. Most organizations measure their disaster recovery effectiveness by Recovery Point Objective (RPO, or how much data the organization is willing to lose), and Recovery Time Objective (RTO, or how long it takes to get back up and running). Frequent backups leads to better RPOs, but a good RPO won’t solve all your problems. After the disaster, you need to get that data from the provider to your recovery systems, and downloading terabytes of data from a service provider takes time. These long download times kill any hope of meeting your RTO—making this next piece essential:
  2. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Popularized by Amazon (with Amazon Web Services and Elastic Cloud Compute), RackSpace, and more recently, Microsoft Azure, IaaS allows you to build, store, and actually run server workloads in the cloud. Big name-name and local service providers make IaaS more enticing by offering a variety of configurations (public, private and hybrid) and price points. Additionally, they are competing on service levels, reliability, scalability, privacy and compliance.

One-Two Combo of RaaS
The combination of storage and infrastructure as a service makes RaaS a compelling contender. However, it takes mature, reliable, scalable versions of both storage and infrastructure to work. The storage needs to be constantly available, so you can make continual replications. You need to be able to back up not just your data, but your server workloads themselves, in the form of virtual machines.

And you can’t just do that once, you need to keep in shape like a luchadore, synchronizing them with your production environment frequently, on whatever schedule you choose. Then, when an unplanned outage occurs, and you have to put your disaster recovery plan into action, your Storage as a Service can become Infrastructure as a Service. You power up those virtual machines and they become your recovery environment, actually running in the cloud. Nothing needs to be copied or downloaded because you seamlessly switch from one mode to another—just like a lucha libre tag-team match.

The pieces exist for RaaS to become a heavyweight champion, but IaaS is currently in better fighting shape. Amazon, Microsoft, and the others have figured out both the technology and business of IaaS, successfully making a profit from it. The Storage as a Service market is less advanced; even the leading storage providers have had trouble cashing in on their user bases. Until that happens, RaaS will continue to be a fractured market with many competing providers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: lots of players leads to increased innovation, lower prices and competition for customers. While RaaS might not take the title this year, 2015 will be the year it starts bulking up.

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Disclaimer: As with everything else at NetIQ Cool Solutions, this content is definitely not supported by NetIQ, so Customer Support will not be able to help you if it has any adverse effect on your environment.  It just worked for at least one person, and perhaps it will be useful for you too.  Be sure to test in a non-production environment.

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Mike Robinson
Feb 25, 2015
8:24 am