Comparing Cloud and Colocation Options for Disaster Recovery

It wasn’t so long ago that the “Chevy truck access method” was a central element of most disaster recovery plans. Backup tapes were loaded into a truck every night and transported to an offsite location for safekeeping. In the event of a disaster, the tapes were used to restore data to new servers — a process that might take a week or two.

Organizations today have much better options. Data center colocation and Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) are two especially effective solutions. They enable near-real-time data backup and restore operations from offsite IT infrastructure — without the cost and complexity of running a duplicate data center complete with redundant software licenses, network links and management.

Both solutions offer solid protection, and some organizations even use a combination of the two. While they have some similarities, they are very different methods. Let’s look at some of their unique characteristics.

Hardware ownership

In a colocation arrangement, you rent space in a provider’s data center space for the hardware, software and system architecture of your choice. The advantage is that you can build servers to your specifications, with the CPUs, RAM and other components of your choice. It gives you a good deal of control over your infrastructure while eliminating the expense of building and maintaining a data center facility. However, there are still significant costs involved in purchasing and configuring redundant hardware.

There’s no need to purchase hardware or software with DRaaS. You just pay a subscription fee for on-demand access to systems and services from a third-party provider. In addition to eliminating up-front capital expenses, the DRaaS model enables a great deal of flexibility by allowing subscribers to spin up new virtualized resources in a matter of minutes. Although it is simple to use, DRaaS offers less control over the infrastructure. In fact, the provider may handle workloads for multiple customers simultaneously.

Connectivity

With colocation, hosting providers typically offer enterprise-grade bandwidth with the option to contract with additional providers for redundant connectivity. You may even be able to establish a dedicated line between your offices and the colocation facility, effectively giving you the privacy and speed of on-premises infrastructure. With this type of connectivity, data recovery can take place in a matter of minutes.

Connectivity can be an issue with DRaaS. Although providers generally offer enough bandwidth for day-to-day operations, there may be performance issues if you must conduct a large-scale restore operation. Depending on the provider’s connections, data recovery can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours. What’s more, you might not even be able to access your data if you lose Internet access at your primary site.

Additional services

There are times when your systems will require hands-on services. Colocation providers usually offer “remote hands” services for basic tasks such as rebooting a server, reconnecting cables or responding to alerts. “Smart hands” services for more complex tasks such as server provisioning or configuration changes usually involve additional costs.

Because their business model revolves around disaster recovery, DRaaS providers typically include many additional services such as DR planning and testing, real-time data replication, data security, and ongoing management and support. They can also provide advice and guidance for improving your security and compliance posture.

Costs

Colocation is typically more expensive than DRaaS, largely due to the startup costs involved with purchasing, configuring and setting up servers and other hardware. Month-to-month costs also tend to be higher because most colocation providers require a long-term lease.

DRaaS is comparatively less expensive because it uses shared infrastructure and requires no hardware purchases. However, other DRaaS costs are notoriously unpredictable. For example, if you must shift production to the cloud in the event of a disaster, there can be significant fees for using cloud computing resources.

All organizations need a reliable disaster recovery plan to protect against events that could cause prolonged unavailability of critical systems, services and applications. Colocation and DRaaS are both good options, but organizations must do their due diligence to determine which is likely to be most effective and cost-efficient. The Technologent team can help you evaluate these alternatives and develop an effective DR plan.

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