One of the primary benefits of a business continuity (BC) or disaster recovery (DR) solution is the ability to continue working through unexpected outages.
Organizations that have experienced downtime due to a mail server outage or UPS failure that brings down its entire SAN are well aware of the value of investing in technology that keeps operations online and active during these types of failures (and many others!). There are, however, other benefits inherent in DR/BC solutions that are frequently overlooked and in some cases provide even better ROI and value to an organization. “Anytime” maintenance windows, the ability to test application upgrades, and the opportunity to confirm that your environment is operating as effectively and efficiently as possible are ancillary benefits that in some cases trump the recovery event all together.
The emergence of the cloud deployment model and its “killer” Recovery as a Service (RaaS) application has made it possible for organizations of all shapes and sizes to capitalize on these benefits.
Enterprise and mid-market companies often rely on backend databases or customer-written applications that can control anything from assembly lines to core information distribution systems. Invariably, these systems are frequently patched or updated. Companies that make it possible for their IT departments, development teams or core operations group to test new versions, patches, upgrades and modifications to these key infrastructures and systems without touching the production environments risk no downtime and deliver so much value that it’s hard to even put a price tag on it.
Progressive companies are adopting the Recovery as a Service model not only to protect their systems from unscheduled outages, but to test changes to these systems in a “sandbox” type of environment without risking any downtown or interruption to their key applications.
I have personally seen more “sandbox” roll-backs at customers then I can remember and all because the patch being applied simply did not work properly. These “sandbox” patches were applied during the day without any interruption to the ongoing operations, allowing development or IT to evaluate stability and usability without taking anything offline. And think of all those weekend and overtime hours that were avoided (and the related lifestyle improvement for key IT employees)!
A quick case study: A hospital, which is arguably the best example of a 24/7 operation, relies on a database system to deliver the proper food trays to thousands of patients every day of the week, 3-4 times a day. When they need to upgrade their database system or perform maintenance what can they do? What precautions can they take to ensure the upgrade will not effect the current distributions in place as well as the upcoming distributions? By utilizing RaaS, this hospital was able to test all upgrades, patches, etc. in a sandbox environment in the Cloud, in the middle of the day with zero interruption to their existing system. Its IT team also could work with confidence, knowing it could easily roll-back any changes that were made that didn’t deliver the required result.
The cloud facilitates the establishment of a complete replica environment through Recovery as a Service technology. No longer do organizations need to establish offsite data center locations, invest in substantial hardware, duplicate licenses, and build a complete test environment that can be utilized for sandbox-like testing. With the cloud and RaaS, organizations are able to effortlessly establish offsite DR presences that not only protect them and their key technologies from going down, but also provide a complete sandbox for the maintenance window, application upgrade and/or testing processes. All of this can be done at economies of scale and with financial investment that is shockingly low (that same hospital, with 500 employees could RaaS its database server for roughly 3 cents/day/employee).
Enterprises that are contemplating testing out the cloud are well advised to put their collective toes in the water (or maybe the sky) by adopting RaaS, which is a no-risk, high-value solution that can deliver more comfort the next time you are about to click the upgrade button….