SMBs usually operate on a small budget, which makes them more vulnerable to downtime due to disasters than bigger corporations. Disasters can occur in many forms, such as a flood causing a power outage, an unplanned construction activity hindering your connectivity, an external cyber security attack, or an internal issue due to employee negligence.
SMBs are often hesitant to opt for disaster recovery strategies, as DR services traditionally have been thought of as a strategy employed only by big corporations with deep pockets to invest in their IT infrastructure. The only step SMBs typically take in this direction is to frequently back up their systems and store them at an off-site location. But when disaster strikes, replicating data and applications within a predefined time period can be tricky.
With cloud technologies becoming commonplace, companies these days can employ services of firms providing DR strategies on a pay-per-use model, which avoids the need to incur heavy expenses in installing IT infrastructure. With that said, these technologies bring new challenges in terms of security and compatibility, but companies can avoid these by following some general best practices. Irrespective of whether companies choose to employ cloud technologies in their DR strategies, creating a disaster recovery plan and implementing it is of the utmost importance for businesses of any size these days.
In this article, we will look at some of the best options for SMBs when it comes to cloud -based DRaaS offerings.
1. Microsoft Azure Site Recovery
Microsoft Azure provides business continuity via its Azure Site Recovery (ASR) platform, previously known as Hyper-V Recovery Manager. With Microsoft’s Azure platform, you are billed on the basis of the number of instances protected. The pricing starts from as low as $16 per month for recovery to customers’ own sites or $54 per month if protected to Azure. Here are some features you can enjoy using ASR:
Automate the replication of your virtual machines to the cloud.
Protect Hyper-V, VMware, and physical servers and use your secondary data center or Azure as your recovery site.
The Azure portal allows you to create disaster recovery plans easily, allowing you to restore services to your primary recovery site in an organized way in the event of a disaster.
Protect even complex workloads involving multiple services and servers by using Windows PowerShell and Azure Automation Runbooks to perform any number of configuration steps.
There are two installation scenarios: When you are running a complex multi-machine interface, ASR requires you to install Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), which increases the total cost of deployment. Installing ASR in a single system case is relatively simple, however.
The Azure dashboard provides a simple interface and, along with the Site Recovery Documentation, which contains the introductory material and detailed instructions, can help you get started easily.
2. Zetta Backup and Recovery
Zetta Backup and Recovery is priced slightly higher than Microsoft’s Azure platform at $750 per year and provides a very simple and easy tool for implementing disaster recovery strategies in Windows-centric environments.
The basic plan provides 500GB of cloud storage, unlimited servers, and supports Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange, and Hyper-V.
The web interface provided in the form of Zetta Mirror is extremely easy to navigate and use.
Automatic backups can be created once in a day at a defined time, which can be configured. After completion, reports are automatically generated and emailed.
Recovery can be accomplished through either a file-based system or a VHD (virtual hard drive). The former is available to use and deploy through a web interface while a VHD can be easily downloaded and launched in a Hyper-V system, or any other platform.
Executing a backup and restoring is very fast due to the high compression ratio — almost 70% to 80%.
Zetta can also back up network-mounted volumes, which enables it to protect third-party storage solutions.
Zetta currently lacks a true bare-metal backup solution. Also, considering it is Windows-centric, it offers little support for business relying on non-Windows platforms.
3. Datto Alto
Datto Alto XL offers SMBs business continuity solutions in a number of DR schemes within its ALTO program. It has a unique pricing approach in which companies can opt for plans with different storage capacities and system memory and pay a flat monthly fee. This transparent pricing strategy is very useful for SMBs that need to protect a limited number of machines but require high storage capacity.
Backups are saved both in the cloud instance and locally in storage media.
With Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology, you can recover faster as Datto ALTO automatically applies incremental backups to your last backup file.
Once your data is successfully backed up, Datto lets you know through a Backup Verification badge that all the backups have been completed without any error or data corruption.
ALTO allows you to view a complete history of what happened between two consecutive backups- which data got added, deleted or modified.
Both Windows and Linux environments are supported.
Enjoy enhanced scalability as ALTO comes with swappable drive bays to upgrade your infrastructure at times of peak demand.
There are many more cloud-based DRaaS providers, such as Quorum onQ Hybrid Cloud Solution, which enables multi-site DR and backup, off-site protection, and the ability to store and execute VMs directly into the cloud. Carbonite Server Backup also is a very basic DRaaS offering, but it doesn’t have much functionality beyond data backup and recovery.
Ultimately, the business requirements of the SMBs dictate which vendor they should choose. Many vendors provide their solutions as a single, non-customizable package. Others provide their solution with lots of options, such as SQL server or MS Exchange-focused backups.
SMBs should properly weigh their business demands and consider options that are economically feasible while addressing all the basic requirements, such as:
Will the DRaaS protect all your applications and data?
What will be the frequency of the backup?
What compression ratio, if any, is achieved?
How long does it take to recover the applications and data? Does it abide with your RTOs?
How complex is it to move from the backup to the live state?
How many VMs can the DRaaS offering support?
In a study carried out by Symantec, it was found that the median cost of downtime for any SMB is $12,500 per day, not to mention the intangible factors as customer loyalty and brand reputation. The cloud gives SMBs an option to enjoy enterprise-class DR plans with highly aggressive return times and high-security levels. So migrate to the cloud to protect your data and applications and research all your options before choosing a cloud-based vendor.