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When your organization is experiencing downtime it means that your end users cannot access services, your organization cannot execute any transactions which could potentially lead to loss of thousands of revenue. The reality of the likelihood that a natural disaster, power outage, hardware failure, etc. will occur within your organization necessitates the critical discussion about the differences between backup and disaster recovery in light of restoring business operations in the shortest time possible.

Alone, Data Backup does not guarantee business continuity…

Getting straight to the point, having a backup for your PC’s and other devices and systems is not a sufficient data and application restoration solution in the face of downtime. Backup is usually done using tape backup, a secondary computer or cloud backup and it only ensures that data is stored, readily available and accessible at all times. It does not guarantee the quick restoration of a live production site in case of disaster.

What is Cloud Backup?

In technical terms, cloud backup, also known as online backup or remote backup, can be defined as a strategy for sending a copy of a physical or virtual file or database to a secondary, off-site location for preservation in case of equipment failure or catastrophe. It is meant to protect your data.

What is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery, on the other hand, refers to the plan and processes for quickly reestablishing access to applications, data, and IT resources after an outage. That plan might involve switching over to a redundant set of servers and storage systems until your primary data center is functional again. These processes include replication of your entire production site data, systems, and applications. This means that an image of your disk drives, business-critical applications or servers are mirrored. This image is what allows you to restore your business faster.

In other words, backup and DRaaS are more or less the same, but DRaaS covers a larger scale or instance.

When disaster strikes…

A disaster could mean a power outage, human error, server room issues such as poor cooling conditions, hardware failure, earthquakes, fires, floods or even terrorist attacks.

An organization that was only armed with a backup system, whether disk drives, tape, NAS or cloud backup may have access to stored copies of their data but this does not mean that the employees or clients will regain access to business-critical systems once these copies of files and data are restored. To get the business back to full functionality, the business would have to rebuild its servers, a process that could take hours or days in a situation where time is critical. The business risks losing revenue, credibility and customer loyalty.

In some cases, the business may have its backup system on-site, for example, NAS devices or external hard drives. When disaster strikes, the NAS devices, and external hard drives are likely to be destroyed and the business suffers a complete loss of data. The statistics on the survival of such a business are low as it is said that 60% of businesses that lose their data shut down in 6 months or so.

A business with a disaster recovery plan or a third party hosting disaster recovery infrastructure in a secondary location on its behalf has a greater chance of bouncing back and resuming business operations instantaneously. The difference between data backup and DRaaS in regards to restoration is that with data backup, restoration involves restoring stored copies of data such as files where backups are present or rebuilding of servers where there are no backups. In DRaaS, restoration involves;

1. Failover

When disaster strikes, you can instantaneously redirect users to continue working on your host’s end as you fix the failure at the production site. This is a process in disaster recovery that involves shifting input and output and its processes from your primary location to a secondary disaster recovery site where redundant systems are ready to take over in a seamless manner such that end-users remain uninterrupted.

2. Recovery Point Objective(RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

Diagram showing the difference between RPO and RTO in disaster recovery
Difference between RPO and RTO

In setting your recovery time objective, you must consider how much time your business can tolerate losing as well as the impact of that lost time on your organization’s bottom lines. It varies from one business to another depending on the nature of the business. For example, a bank may have a much shorter RPO as its lifeline is dependent on live transactions.

Your recovery point objective (RPO) is a measurement in terms of time, of the maximum amount of data your business can tolerate losing. It also helps to measure how much time can elapse between your last data backup and the disaster without causing irreversible damage to your business.

Organizations that choose to have both a backup and disaster recovery plan initially set their RPO and RTO to determine at what point business operations will be restored after failback. Failback is where your business is able to switch back to its original systems. It is the process of resynchronizing data back to the primary location.

The business or DRaaS host must conduct regular tests to ensure failover can be achieved seamlessly when disaster strikes and failback is possible, once the storm passes.

Having understood the difference in the restoration process between data backup and DRaaS, it is now clear that a mere on-premise backup system is not enough to ensure business continuity, especially for businesses that operate mission-critical applications. A disaster recovery plan includes not only the restoration of a few files and some data but the complete failback of your entire production environment without experiencing the cost of downtime.

Fear not, with Disaster Recovery as a Service, a managed service where a third party vendor hosts and manages the infrastructure used for disaster recovery, organizations no longer have to worry about managing their disaster recovery processes.

Pepea Disaster Recovery is a managed disaster recovery service where you will neither have to worry about the infrastructure to be used for disaster recovery nor its management.