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Is Your Customer’s Recovery-as-a-Service (RaaS) Actually Recoverable?

“How recoverable are your customers, really?”

Before you answer that question, it’s critical to know exactly what goes into recovery – from their virtual and physical environments to their data to their systems to their people. Without a holistic view of recovery, the next outage or incident could reveal some unwelcome surprises.

The challenge today is that there are a lot of recovery-as-a-service (RaaS) providers in the market, all of whom are promising “recovery solutions.” But do they deliver? The fact is, there are various elements to recovery and not all providers address all those elements.

The image below shows the three key components of a holistic recovery-as-a-service solution: Recovery-as-a-Service.

The biggest problem is found in the smallest box: Protect Data. This is where a lot of RaaS providers start … and stop. They protect a copy of your customers’ data, but that’s it.

Protecting your customers’ data is not recovery. It is glorified backup. Certainly, your customers have a replicated copy of their storage environment or a snapshot of a protected server. That’s great if your customer has a disaster where a server blows up or a file is corrupted, or they need to repair a certain part of their physical or virtual environment. In such instances, they can recover from their backup copies.

But what if they experience an event that requires more than a simple repair and restore of their data? For that, they need the next level of recovery-as-a-service: Restore Environment. Here, they are addressing their physical infrastructure, virtual machines, and operating system restores.

This area has a danger zone, however: the hybrid IT environment. Suppose your customer – like the majority of other companies – has a multiplatform, hybrid environment, with X86, Unix, IBM, IBM +0.76% AIX, IBM AS400, and Sun Solaris architectures. Can they restore all these systems – whether they are physical or virtual? 

Most RaaS providers – if they do system restores at all – are limited to virtual systems. If your customers are relying on such a provider but have legacy physical systems that are supporting mission-critical processes, then their business is not recoverable. Their recovery-as-a-service provider must have capabilities that encompass the full breadth of your hybrid IT environment.

Let’s assume your customers can protect their data. They can restore their environment. Are they fully recoverable? Not yet. They need a third component: Manage Recovery. Managing recovery involves multiple aspects:

• Tiering applications. When considering recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs), not all applications are created equal. Their criticality to the business should determine how they are tiered for recovery purposes: which applications require near-zero RTOs? Which can appropriately be recovered in under four hours? Over four hours? Which tier applications fall in has ramifications all the way down to the backup level. For non-critical applications, disk-based backup is likely sufficient, lowering overall costs. For mission-critical applications, replicated snapshots are one of the top options.

• Change management. Complex IT environments can have thousands, and even tens of thousands of changes in their production environment each year. There are operating system upgrades, patch upgrades, machines being added, machines being taken away, procedural updates, new applications, etc. A good recovery plan runbook has to reflect each and every one of these changes in the environment. If your customers don’t have the resources to manage these changes in-house, they should seek a RaaS partner (that’s you) who can manage the constant flux.

• Recovery testing. Recovery testing often goes by the wayside in the hustle and bustle of daily IT life. But comprehensive, regular testing is critical to ensure recoverability. A RaaS provider can work with customers to plan and execute effective tests without disrupting the business, then evaluate the test results and remediate where necessary.

• Recovering the business. Outages and incidents, whether large or small, often impact key IT personnel, hindering recovery efforts or halting them completely. A holistic RaaS provider can stand in that gap, assuming full responsibility to recover the business.

Your customer’s ability (or their RaaS provider’s ability) to deliver on these three elements – protecting their data, restoring their environment, and managing their recovery – is what they need to examine to truly answer the question “How recoverable am I?”  Are you ready to help them answer the question?

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