Disaster Recovery Solutions: Top 5 Types and How to Choose

Disaster Recovery

What Are Disaster Recovery Solutions?

Disaster recovery (DR) services and solutions allow organizations to maintain business continuity when disasters occur. They help restore data and critical systems in the event of a software or hardware failure, natural disaster, accidental data loss, ransomware attack, or other unexpected event.

There are several types of disaster recovery solutions. Disaster recovery can be deployed in an on-premise data center, with failover to a remote DR site, but this requires massive investment in infrastructure. An evolution of this model is virtualized disaster recovery, where workloads are managed as virtual machines (VMs), making it easier to move them between environments.

Modern DR solutions are based on the cloud, reducing upfront costs, and making it easier to backup and restore assets. The advent of Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), based on cloud infrastructure, has enabled enterprise-grade disaster recovery for small-to-medium organizations.
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This article is part of a series on Disaster Recovery.

Why Is Disaster Recovery Important?

Businesses rely on documents, files, servers, and applications for their daily operations. If sensitive data or a critical system is lost or goes offline, this can have a major impact on an organization, leading to financial losses, reputation loss, and even legal exposure.

A disaster is an unexpected problem that can slow, disrupt, or destroy IT systems. This could be an earthquake or other natural disaster, a technical malfunction or equipment failure, human error, or an attack by malicious parties, either inside or outside the organization.

Disaster recovery solutions help organizations respond quickly and more effectively to disaster situations:

  • Ensure business continuity—loss of data, limited access to business productivity tools, and downtime for customer-facing systems, can be highly disruptive for an organization. Disaster recovery enables quick restoration of affected systems, or failover to backup systems, enabling the business to continue functioning despite the disaster.
  • Improve system security—implementing data protection, backup and recovery processes can limit the impact of ransomware, malware, or other security risks.
  • Improve customer retention—in many cases, customers will not continue to do business with an organization after their personal data was lost or compromised, or after the business goes offline for a prolonged period of time. Business continuity helps maintain customer trust and ensure retention even in the event of a large-scale disaster. Organizations can also gain a competitive advantage by preparing for disasters better than others in their industry.
  • Reduce recovery costs—most disasters will have a negative impact on an organization, but with effective DR solutions in place, the damage can be minimized and so is the cost and effort of recovering systems to their original state.

Types of Disaster Recovery Solutions

1. Data Center Disaster Recovery

Organizations with proprietary data centers must implement a disaster recovery strategy that addresses all IT infrastructure components in the data center and the surrounding physical facility. This strategy typically centers on backups to failover sites housed in secondary data centers or colocation facilities. Business and IT leaders should document the various components of these physical facilities, including heating, cooling, power, fire response, and security controls.

2. Network Disaster Recovery

Network connectivity is critical for external and internal communication, application access, and data sharing in the event of a disaster. The network disaster recovery strategy should detail a plan to restore network services and ensure access to backup data and secondary storage sites.

3. Virtualized Disaster Recovery

Organizations can use virtualization to replicate workloads in a secondary location or cloud environment for disaster recovery. Virtualized DR is flexible, easy to implement, fast, and efficient—virtualized workloads have small IT footprints, support frequent replication, and enable fast failover initiation. Various data protection vendors provide virtual DR and backup products.

4. Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

With many cloud services available, organizations can host DR systems in a cloud environment rather than in a physical location. Cloud disaster recovery involves more than cloud backup. IT teams must configure automatic workload failover to the DR cloud platform for immediate recovery when a disruption occurs.

5. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

DRaaS is a commercially available cloud DR service that allows an organization to replicate and host its virtual and physical servers on a third party’s infrastructure. The DR service provider is responsible for implementing the disaster recovery plan during a crisis based on the service-level agreement.

There are various disaster recovery providers, given that DR extends beyond IT. Some vendors sell backup and disaster recovery tools, while others offer fully managed or hosted DR services. Disaster recovery also encompasses risk management, so some vendors provide additional security features such as emergency plans and incident response.

DRaaS examples include data protection and backup platforms, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions, and add-ons from colocation and data center providers.

Learn more in our detailed guide to Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

Key Considerations Before Choosing a Disaster Recovery Software

Define Your DR Objectives

Identify recovery objectives such as the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO), specifying the acceptable level of data loss. Different datasets may have different recovery objectives, requiring a varied DR strategy. These objectives should relate to various disaster scenarios and data protection priorities (i.e., physical vs digital threats).

Related content: Read our guide to disaster recovery plans

Identify the Right Replication Strategy

Choose the appropriate replication level and type for the application. Avoid mixing replication levels for the same application category. The four replication options are:

  • Application-level—offers low RPOs and RTO but requires maintaining the operating system and patching it to ensure failover performance. This replication approach is suited to SQL databases.
  • Guest operating system level—replicates data to the target machine on a block-level basis. This replication enables one-click failover but involves a source machine agent and license costs.
  • SAN or LUN level – replicates the whole LUN or SAN and its VMs. This option works with virtual and physical machines but is less suited to the public cloud.
  • Hypervisor level—helps save money for cloud replication and is SAN-agnostic. This option is unsuited to physical machines.

Consider Distance, Connectivity, and Other Environmental Factors

The DR site must be a safe distance from the primary data center to ensure it remains unaffected by physical disasters like fires or earthquakes. Remote management solutions make this easier, but they can be subject to latency issues. Another factor to consider when choosing the location is climate—warmer climates can be more expensive given the system’s cooling needs.

Consider the TCO

Disaster recovery needs can change over time, so it’s important to factor in the total cost of ownership of the DR solution, along with scalability and flexibility needs. If the solution cannot scale up with the business, it can become less effective and more expensive.

Built-In Data Protection for Disaster Recovery with Cloudian

Do you need to backup data to on-premises storage, as part of your disaster recovery setup? Cloudian offers a low-cost disk-based storage technology that lets you backup data locally with a capacity of up to 1.5 Petabytes. You can also set up a Cloudian appliance in a remote site and use our integrated data management tools to save data there.

Another deployment option is a hybrid cloud configuration. You can backup data to a local Cloudian appliance, then replicate to the cloud for DR purposes. This combines the low latency of local storage with the resilience of the cloud.

Learn more about Cloudian’s data protection solution.

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