What is the difference between Disaster Recovery and Disaster Recovery as a Service?

What is the difference between DR and DRaaS?

It’s the “as a Service” bit.

That’s it.  No need to read any further. Blog finished.


This should be a very simple distinction, but some confuse the two.

As you might expect, we read a lot of the storage and DR press. It’s amazing how often an article or an analyst report of ‘the top DRaaS providers” is mostly filled with software vendors.

Lets’ start with what is definitely not DRaaS:

  • Replication software
  • Backup software
  • All-in-one appliances

Software is something you need for DR, it’s a crucial part of a solution but it’s not a Service. You might buy it ‘as a Service’ (SaaS), but that’s not the same as Disaster Recovery as a Service, in our opinion.

We think there are two key criteria to meet to really be DRaaS:

  • An OpEx consumption model. You pay for only what you need, most commonly on a per server and per TB basis for the software, hosting and support.
  • The service provider helps you set up, maintain, and recover systems.

This rules out the big public clouds. Some companies do offer DRaaS using public clouds (ahem) but AWS, Azure and Google don’t offer DRaaS directly. The hyperscale clouds offer the Infrastructure and you can buy replication software directly from them in their marketplace. But it’s not Disaster Recovery as a Service.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Disaster Recovery without the “aaS” bit is fine. You might have multiple sites, so you don’t need an external cloud. You might get better value by buying the software and hardware yourself and depreciating over a longer period. You might have a big team, the interest and the skills to deploy and manage the tech yourself.  It’s no better or worse, it’s a different way to achieve the same end.


The benefit of Disaster Recovery as a Service

With that being said, we think there is a compelling reason to choose DRaaS for most use-cases.

It boils down to the rent vs own question. If you need something occasionally, like a car or a tool it’s cheaper to rent it. If you need that something frequently, it’s cheaper to buy.

DR is perfectly suited for cloud computing for that reason. Most of the time, you don’t need much resource in the cloud, just some storage and a small amount of compute to keep your replication ticking over. Then, for a short period, you need all your infrastructure powered on.

For us, the technology isn’t the whole package, there are critical human and process elements to it too.

When you have an incident, you need a lot of hands to the pump. That, for us is the most compelling reason to choose DRaaS. To get access to a team of experts who can recover your systems for you while you deal with the cause of the incident. If you’ve been through a DR invocation you’ll know, there are a hundred other demands thrown at you: users, forensic cyber investigations, users,  the fire brigade, users, sourcing new hardware, USERS!

That rent vs own question doesn’t just apply to infrastructure. You can also apply the principle to your team. Are these the skills you want in-house or is it something you can outsource? Your resources are finite. It makes sense to outsource the things that are important but don’t add value.

To summarise, DRaaS lets you:

  • Save money
  • Outsource a task that doesn’t add value
  • Get access to experts in a crisis

Needless to say, we think DRaaS is the easy choice in most cases.



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