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In a past blog post, we highlighted three of the most common challenges that small to medium-sized businesses face when attempting to integrate a disaster recovery solution into their business model. For these SMBs, a lack of technical expertise, no secondary disaster recovery location and a slim IT budget each present obstacles against adequate preparation. Fortunately, virtualization and cloud computing have altered the disaster recovery landscape, making DR both simpler and more cost-effective. Developing and implementing a comprehensive and effective business continuity plan – until recently only something large enterprises could afford to do – is increasingly accessible for businesses of any size. Companies can leverage the best remote compute and storage resources, with minimal levels of cost and complexity. These solutions are known as Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS).

DRaaS and other cloud backup, replication, and recovery services offer promise, but you’ll want to develop a plan first before running out and deploying a dozen different services. You should also be aware that your users may be taking matters in to their own hands with services like DropBox, or simple online backup like Mozy or Carbonite.

Getting a handle on requirements and creating a comprehensive plan will help you make sure you get the most out of any DRaaS services. Once you have, there are three key benefits that DRaaS offers you:

  • Live replication of application data: Despite recent advances in technology, many disaster recovery solutions are still powered by backup and only replicate application data when scheduled. Your users running online backup are only backing up their copy of data; there’s no way for them to protect applications. Even the most effective backup solutions will lose the data processed between the last backup and a disaster. Unlike backup solutions, DRaaS solutions replicate live application data in real time to the DRaaS service provider’s cloud recovery site. Real time replication means your data is always protected, no matter what the size of your business. For critical applications, consider using live replication solutions.
  • Integration with virtualization: Virtualization has an array of benefits for SMBs: reduced infrastructure, lower costs, greater automation and more. However, without factoring virtualized technology appropriately into a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy, it can come with unforeseen risks. By integrating a DRaaS solution directly into your data center, service provider managers can manage your disaster recovery solution remotely, ensuring consistent protection and recovery. Be mindful that virtualization often offers increased hardware availability, but changes little when it comes to application availability.  A two-tiered approach may be applicable for the most critical of business services.
  • Remote protection: With a slim budget for IT, many small businesses can’t afford to maintain a secondary location for a data center. However, if something happens at your primary location, outages can make it difficult to recover your business quickly. By combining your DRaaS solution with a managed service provider, you can operate your cloud data remotely, preventing the threat of downtime as a result of local threats.

One caveat with any cloud service – make sure you evaluate the provider’s continuity and security plans! We’ve seen too many examples of outages recently or even cloud providers like Nirvanix going out of business.

While it’s impossible to eliminate the threat of downtime completely, being adequately prepared can get to as close to that goal as possible. Virtualization and cloud computing help level the playing field for companies attempting to restore their mission-critical applications and data. Small businesses and enterprises alike can now rest easy knowing that they have protected their business from both external and internal threats.

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More Stories By Josh Mazgelis

Josh Mazgelis is senior product marketing manager at Neverfail. He has been working in the storage and disaster recovery industries for close to two decades and brings a wide array of knowledge and insight to any technology conversation.

Prior to joining Neverfail, Josh worked as a product manager and senior support engineer at Computer Associates. Before working at CA, he was a senior systems engineer at technology companies such as XOsoft, Netflix, and Quantum Corporation. Josh graduated from Plymouth State University with a bachelor’s degree in applied computer science and enjoys working with virtualization and disaster recovery.