DR as a Service Buying Guide

By Drew Robb

As the cloud continues its steady advance into the traditional IT landscape, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is the latest wave to catch hold. According to Forrester Research, 42% of companies already use some sort of outsourced DR service and feel they lack the in-house expertise to run their own DR programs. As a result, DRaaS has suddenly become a hot area of the cloud.

This is supported by Computer Economics’ latest Technology Trends survey, which indicates that disaster recovery is the single most important reason why organizations are adopting infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Among organizations that are using or planning to use IaaS, about 60% plan to use the services for disaster recovery, the study found.

There are several different flavors of DRaaS, of course. This includes:

DR for file restores with several vendors offering single-file data recovery for use when a disaster removes access to the primary file system;

Appliance-based services where the primary backup is to a local appliance, with the ability to send backups to the cloud;

VM-based replication that is best for environments that are fully virtualized; custom-built DRaaS that can support physical and virtual servers across a broad range of platforms;

Hybrid arrangements that use elements taken from these various approaches.

Let’s take a look at some of the offerings out there.


iLand’s DRaaS technology scores high in evaluations by the likes of Forrester Research and Gartner. The company promises near-zero recovery point and recovery time objectives by replicating IT workloads from virtual or physical environments to iland’s global cloud infrastructure. An onboarding and project management support team helps users plan, execute and test their DR setup.

Lilac Schoenbeck, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at iland, said its DRaaS offering was designed on the premise that DR needs and priorities vary for each organization.  As such, iland can accommodate a range of configuration options with support for physical, colocation and complex networking requirements. Additionally, it can support virtual-to-cloud, physical-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud use cases.

Pricing is comprised of three components: a per-VM license fee; cost of reserved storage (3-tier options); and pay-as-you-go prices for any ongoing workloads, like domain controllers, running in the cloud.

“For many IT teams, a DRaaS implementation is an opportunity to experiment with cloud,” said Schoenbeck. “We often have DRaaS customers who were skeptical about cloud turn to us for additional cloud resources as they need to satisfy growth or business agility requirements.” 


Acronis added to its backup smarts by acquiring nScaled. The result is the Acronis Disaster Recovery Service. It backs up and replicates systems into an on-site appliance and Acronis cloud data center, and can recover and restart systems with a guaranteed SLA in the event of an outage. It protects systems using the Acronis AnyData Engine to capture, store, recover and manage data in virtual, physical and cloud environments. The service encompasses both backup and DR, combining the two services into one. For selected applications, it allows for granular item recovery – such as Microsoft SharePoint document or single e-mail from Microsoft Exchange. It supports six types of hypervisors – VMware vSphere ESX(i), Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, Linux KVM and Oracle VM Server. It also supports VDI systems. Pricing is one monthly fee.

“We are noticing a growing trend of companies moving to professional Cloud DR, giving up on home-grown DIY DR solutions,” said Mark Jameson, General Manager, Acronis Disaster Recovery. “Home-grown DR has much higher TCO, unmanageable complexity and low reliability.”


Not everyone, however, is a fan of the appliance. Zetta.net’s DRaaS spins up a failed server in the cloud from existing server image backups without requiring one. It runs physical and virtual servers as well as applications in their native network environment directly from the cloud via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection. It uses WAN optimization to transfer server images from the cloud and has been optimized to deal with data sets larger than 1 TB.

Part of its appeal, said Chris Schin, Vice President of Products at Zetta.net, is that it takes a local appliance out of the loop. Instead of transferring data onsite to an appliance and then from there to the cloud, it operates directly to the cloud. This eliminates a potential bottleneck at the appliance. Pricing begins at $175 per month.

“True DRaaS should provide users a turnkey solution that allows users the ability to spin up physical and virtual servers and applications directly from the cloud, affordably,” said Schin.


The Seagate Cloud Disaster Recovery Service backs up or replicates your systems to the Seagate Cloud. When there’s a disaster, the business can be kept up and running as critical systems are quickly recovered as virtual machines (VMs). It provides managed services with a range of SLAs (1-hour, 24-hour, and 48-hour), and guarantees security.

“The key differentiators for in-house versus DRaaS are on-demand availability, cost, performance, consistency, and complexity,” said John Wernecke, Senior Product Manager, Seagate. “As the DRaaS market continues to evolve, departments of larger enterprises will become more likely to move the capital cost of DR, such as purchasing hardware, software licenses, and having a sizable staff, to the operational expense side of their ledger by subscribing to a services offering rather than an in-house model.”

Many Options

This is only a small sampling of available vendors. Others include Axcient, Barracuda Networks, CenturyLink TechnologyCSC, HP, IBM, rCloud, Phoenix, Quorum, Recovery Point SystemsSungard Availability Services and Verizon Terremark. Forrester gave high marks to SunGard in terms of flexibility, resiliency and array of product offerings. Forrester also commented favorably on the security capabilities of Verizon. 

“The DRaaS opportunity continues to grow, particularly as users see that it complements what they have been doing while leveraging cloud resources,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst at StorageIO Group.  

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on October 27, 2015