Best Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) Providers

At least two factors make choosing a disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) provider one of the most complex tasks in the entire enterprise storage market.

First, the DRaaS sector offers a remarkable range of approaches, platforms, and capabilities – it can be confusing. Second, pricing in the DRaaS market is expensive and it, too, can be confusing.

Let’s look at what creates the complexity. In general, DRaaS encompasses the management of server image and production data replication to cloud storage by a service provider. This typically includes DR run book creation, automated server recovery and failback to/from the cloud. Vendors support virtual and physical source servers, although some focus on x86, while others are strong in UNIX and IBM non-x86 platforms. Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) vary based on company needs, price tag and vendor capability.

Some vendors are almost wholly self-service whereas others manage the service for the user, either wholly or in part. The self-service providers still offer tools for recovery configuration, VM replication, the creation of recovery plans, and so on. But it is up to the user to execute them.

There are also variations related to the underlying physical assets. In some cases, companies are using DRaaS providers’ clouds to replicate on-premise data and systems. In other cases, the provider acts as a colocation provider as well as a DRaaS provider. And more than a few providers rely entirely on the vendor as a secondary site in the event of a disaster, or use the vendor to replicate their data between two or more clouds.

DRaaS Costs And Pricing Policies

DR has always been expensive. Back in the day, companies had to erect a data center that was a mirror of their primary site. That meant the same servers, tape drives, storage arrays, networking equipment, software, in both locations. Colocation and hosting players came onto the scene as a way to reduce those costs by sharing resources with other users. But costs remained relatively high.

Once the cloud appeared, it was initially looked upon as an easy way to reduce DR costs. Simply dumping everything into a low-cost cloud seemed to be the answer. But all it took was one disaster to highlight the folly of that concept. The problem: it can take weeks to download huge quantities of data from the cloud.

DRaaS, then, evolved as a way to use the cloud to get companies back online fast. But it isn’t cheap. That’s why this area of the IT universe is experiencing steady – and impressive – growth.

Most vendors are cagey about prices. Obtaining prices for Enterprise Storage Forum Buying Guides is often a challenge, but DRaaS proved to be the ultimate in vendor reluctance. Only a couple provided pricing despite repeated attempts to obtain the information. Extensive web search didn’t bear much fruit either. Hence vendors are graded Low, Medium or High, with regard to pricing.

Top DRaaS Providers:

Microsoft Azure Site Recovery

Microsoft Azure Site Recovery gets 92% positive user reviews, but receives some low marks for support of high-complexity environments, and its managed service recovery capabilities.

However, its extensive global presence, integration with other Microsoft platforms, low cost, and unlimited, pay-as-you-go testing make it a top candidate for low-complexity x86 environments. It tends to compete head-to-head with iland (see below) in the low-cost x86 DRaaS space. And of course, Microsoft clearly has the edge when an organization is committed to Microsoft platforms or the Azure cloud.

Read our in-depth analysis of

Bluelock

Bluelock is considered a leader in the last Forrester Wave for Draas, though it lags iland, Microsoft, IBM, Sungard Availability Services and others in Gartner’s estimation (it is a Niche Player in the latest Gartner MQ).

The niche Bluelock has carved out is far more hands-on and consultative than any of the other DRaaS providers. It may not be the largest DraaS provider, but its approach (backed by a guarantee) brings it a loyal following and strong customer feedback. It takes a lot of care on each engagement to ensure business needs are being met.

It’s an approach that appeals to some U.S.-based midsize and large companies, but those who have a lot of in-house staff might not be as interested. If you are new to the cloud, lack cloud-savvy IT resources, and need to take great care of heterogeneous workloads that require colocation integrated into a comprehensive recovery plan, Bluelock might be a good bet.

For higher-priced managed DRaaS, it may compete with Expedient in some Eastern states. Bluelock probably wins where a more hands-on approach is needed. But Expedient (see below) has the edge when on-premise control is a priority.

Read our in-depth analysis of

Expedient

Expedient offers fully managed DRaaS services in a limited area (certain cities spanning the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S.). A value add is the fact that the compute resources available can be utilized for more than DR.

The On-Site Private Cloud with DRaaS is ideal for customers who want to transform their IT operations without sacrificing the benefits or control of an on-premises environment. But those outside of its core area should look elsewhere.

For higher-priced managed DRaaS, it may compete with Bluelock in some of its territories. Bluelock probably wins where a more hands-on approach is needed. But Expedient wins out when on-premise control is a priority.

Read our in-depth analysis of

Tierpoint

TierPoint isn’t the lowest cost provider of fully managed DRaaS, but it appears to be a little cheaper than U.S. competitors Bluelock and Expedient, which also offer fully managed services.

TierPoint differentiates itself by appealing to medium-complexity environments that prioritize flexibility in technology choices and multiple tiers of services. It emphasizes power and infrastructure reliability via dedicated redundant elements. These are backed by an impressive array of generators, utility feeds, main electrical switchboards, and high-speed networks.

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CloudHPT

CloudHPT has a very specific niche: Middle Eastern users, as well as global organizations with the need data residency requirements in the Middle East.

As it rarely needs to compete with others in this guide in its area, it is naturally higher priced. The service offering includes monthly virtual test and an annual DR test – helpful for peace of mind. For those with in-country requirements within Dubai and Saudi Arabia, it is a top contender. It also has some clients configured for recovery to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, within and outside the Middle East.

Read our in-depth analysis of

iland

iland is rated as the top DRaaS provider by Gartner in its latest Magic Quadrant (MQ). It has made the Leaders quadrant for three years straight. It has solid partnerships with the likes of VMware, Cisco, Zerto, and Veeam, and is the one to beat when it comes to DRaaS.

It also competes on price with Microsoft on low-cost x86 cloud DR. It is probably best for organizations with compliance needs, network complexity that needs self-service VMware-based IaaS and DRaaS. As its service is primarily self-support, those who lack internal cloud expertise and require in-depth support should probably look elsewhere.

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Recovery Point

Recovery Point’s focus is complex heterogeneous environments that include physical systems and servers, such as IBM Z, IBM i, IBM Power Systems and Oracle SPARC. This broad approach supports its wide U.S. client base, consisting of commercial companies, federal agencies, and state and local governments.

While there are many choices for DRaaS on x86 systems, Recovery Point is one of few that is experienced with non-x86 workloads and mainframes. It is ideal for U.S.-based organizations, particularly IBM and Oracle shops. This includes those with complex recovery needs, those with U.S. Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) needs, and those that wish to leverage tape as a secondary recovery option to DRaaS.

Recovery Point offers a U.S. alternative to established non-x86 players such as Sungard AS and IBM, which tend to be higher priced, but which can offer greater global reach and broader service offerings than Recovery Point.

Read our in-depth analysis of

C&W Business

The foundation for much of C&W’s DRaaS differentiation is rooted in its multi-country network connectivity capabilities, as well as its commitment to full service for IBM-based platforms and x86 environments in the Caribbean, Latin American and North American regions.

C&W is ideal when regional needs, especially network connectivity and hybrid recovery, are priorities for low- to medium-complexity environments. Or when organizations have a desire for complete data center outsourcing in the areas that surround the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.

The company’s customer support centers offer both Spanish and English interactions. Its IaaS-based DRaaS solutions for AIX/iSeries mean it can compete well with IBM and Sungard AS in these service areas.

Read our in-depth analysis of

IBM DRaaS

IBM is one of a small group of vendors with significant non-x86 workload and mainframe recovery experience. Unlike most companies in this guide, it has a long track record in DR that pre-dates the cloud. IBM has supported more than 1,000 recoveries since 1989.

It is a good candidate for organizations that desire fully managed DRaaS and global support for IBM hardware/software offerings. For sheer depth and breadth, its Resiliency Services portfolio is hard to beat. This can well serve clients whose recovery options may need to evolve over a longer period of time as their business needs change.

However, IBM’s DRaaS services comes at a premium price and customer scores are generally lower on most metrics than many others in this guide. If primarily x86 workloads are involved, skip IBM. But if non-x86 IBM-based workloads predominate, it should be one of those on the shortlist.

Read our in-depth analysis of >

Sungard AS

Sungard Availability Services (AS) competes head-to-head with IBM in North American and EU on mixed environments that include a lot of high-value non-x86 infrastructure.

While IBM provides fully managed DRaaS, Sungard AS offers both fully and partially managed. This is an important plus for customers whose needs (including staffing situations) may change with time.

Sungard also boasts even more recoveries than IBM for non-x86 workloads and mainframes — over 3,000 in the last three decades. That kind of experience is enough to convince some to favor it over IBM in some bids.

Read our in-depth analysis of

 

Vendor Workload Support Regions Covered Best RTO Delivery Key Markets Analyst Eval Price Key Differentiator
Bluelock Mainly x86 US Less than 15 min Managed/assisted US mid-sized Niche Player High Consulting approach
iland x86 Global Less than 15 min self-serve/ partial-assist Global VMware shops that prefer self-service Leader Low Value for the money
Expedient x86 Central, Northeast US Less than 1 hour Fully managed Northeast US Niche Player High Personal service
Microsoft ASR x86 Global Less than 2 hours Self service Low complexity x86 Leader Low Supports Azure
Recovery Point x86, UNIX, IBM i, mainframe US Less than 30 mins Fully managed/ assisted Complex US with compliance needs Challenger Med. Extensive product offering
C&W Business x86m UNIX, IBMi Florida, Carib., Central America, Colombia Less than 3 hours Fully managed Spanish speaking, medium-complexity Caribbean/ Central American Niche Player High English/Spanish support
Tierpoint x86, UNIX US Less than 1 hour Fully managed and self-serve US, medium-complexity mixed environments Challenger Med. Flexible managed services
Cloud HPT x86 Dubai, Saudi Less than 15 min Fully managed Middle East x86 Niche Player High Focused on Middle East
IBM x86, UNIX, IBM I & Z Global Less than 15 min Fully managed IBM shops Visionary High Supports IBM
Sungard AS x86, UNIX, IBM I & Z North America, EU Less than 15 min Fully/ partially managed Complex non-86 Visionary High Legacy DR provider
Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been a full-time professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. He currently works freelance for a number of IT publications, including eSecurity Planet and CIO Insight. He is also the editor-in-chief of an international engineering magazine.

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