Cloud BackupDRaaS

Backup vs. Disaster Recovery vs. DRaaS

ByAugust 23, 2016
Backup-disaster recovery-DRaaSThe IT industry loves lingo – and marketers love branding. The combination can lead to a rather cluttered wasteland of terminology that obscures meaning, rather than adding clarity. So, to strip it all back, let’s talk about the differences – in plain English – between backups, DR, and DRaaS.

Definitions and Differences


Backups: A backup is simply a snapshot of your virtual machine, typically taken once a day. Backups are usually:
  • Automatically configured to happen daily, after close of business
  • Stored for a period of time, with a retention policy like “one a day for a month and one a month for a year”
  • Kept in a place separate from the primary system, like a basement, another data center, the back of a Honda, or, in the case of Backup-as-a-Service, in the cloud.
Backups are great for legal reasons, data protection and so on. Backups aren’t great for business continuity. Why? Well:
  • The last copy you have is last-night, which is usually stale. Most business applications change a lot during a day.
  • To re-awaken a system from a backup takes time. First, you need a ready-and-working system, rebooted and happy – and then you have to mount the backup. The whole process isn’t speedy. If the backup is (more safely) stored elsewhere, there’s the travel-time of getting it to the primary location, as well.
Disaster Recovery: DR systems replicate your data on an ongoing basis from a primary location to a secondary location. Usually:
  • Replication periods are measured in minutes, or even seconds. So, the last copy is fairly fresh.
  • The secondary copy is held in stasis (like a ghost, or horcrux, for the Harry Potter fans) until it is re-animated via a fail-over trigger
  • The secondary location can be another data center in another region, or even the cloud, in the case of DRaaS.
DR is fantastic for business continuity because you can trigger a failover and be live at the secondary location in minutes. While some systems do enable an archiving-type function, most folks agree that replication itself is not really the right tool for long-term data storage.

Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS): If you don’t have access to a secondary location – or don’t want to pay for it – DRaaS enables you to execute the same Disaster Recovery replication with the cloud as your secondary location. In that case:
  • The speeds involved are similarly fast: minutes or seconds to recovering systems
  • You pay only for storage while the systems are replicating/in stasis – and once they fail over, you’ll pay for CPU and Memory resources, as you consume them
  • You will want to vet the cloud as an operating environment for your workloads – meaning, it better be secure, have excellent customer service, etc.
DRaaS is a great way to achieve business continuity goals quickly and more cheaply than owning a secondary data center yourself.

If you have any questions, please contact us. We’ll be happy to help.
Lilac Schoenbeck

Lilac Schoenbeck

Lilac has more than 15 years of experience with product marketing, strategy, business development, and software engineering in the grid, virtualization, and cloud domains. Prior to this role, she led cloud and automation marketing for BMC Software, and has worked for IBM, Fortisphere, Innosight, and the Globus Alliance. Lilac holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and a Computer Science degree from Pacific Lutheran University.