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DR Testing & Why Tech Teams Are Choosing DRaaS

26 June 2020 by Guest

Anthony Holland - DRaaS Expert

Author: UKFast’s VP of Architecture, Anthony Holland.

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) has come into its own over recent years, overtaking traditional DR methods, such as investing in additional data centres or in private clouds, which have the sole purpose of being a DR solution. DRaaS has expanded the reach of DR services beyond large enterprises to medium, and even some small businesses thanks to its affordability and other factors such as simplicity of setup and ease of testing.

Traditional disaster recovery  

When someone mentions disaster recovery, I always think back to my days of working in a bank. I remember how frustrating it was spending so much time and money on a DR platform, which the business was potentially never going to use. There were hundreds of thousands of pounds sunk into hardware which was sat in a data centre doing absolutely nothing, just waiting for a disaster to strike.

This wasn’t just a problem at my firm; it stretched right across the industry and beyond. But it was a small price to pay for the reassurance that, if anything were to happen to our production equipment, we’d have a copy of almost everything and a place from which to run it within a matter of hours.

There were, of course, advantages. As an infrastructure team, it gave us a way of testing things like platform upgrades before rolling out to our production environment. We had environments that allowed us to use the hardware for our UAT (user acceptance testing) and staging, which offered some value, but for most of the time the platform sat dormant. The DR solution was little more than a very expensive safety net.

In the past, one of the biggest challenges of DR has been testing services. You could bring up a clone of your environment in one place, but if it needed to talk to your active directory or any other “production” area within your platform, things weren’t so easy. It would reside in a “test” network, allowing you to start up isolated virtual machines (VMs), but that was about it.

The dawn of disaster recovery as a service

The good news is, for many businesses these days the industry has moved on from running dormant disaster recovery sites. IT management teams have welcomed the opportunity to reduce their costs by embracing cloud technologies where possible.

Modern disaster recovery platforms like DRaaS are a massive step forward. Offering services on public equipment means you can start up virtual machines for testing or real disasters, as and when your business dictates. They minimise the upfront cost of maintaining equipment and are predictably priced when you need to use them. Providing services via public resources is similar to desk space in a DR office; typically, you don’t own a building, you just share one with other businesses and use it when needed. The big blocker to this in the past was security. But using tools like Veeam and clever network designs to help address concerns, whilst still making the service simple to operate, has resolved the issue for most platform requirements.

Testing with disaster recovery as a service

Using a DRaaS platform and entrusting your provider with the maintenance of DR infrastructure is now commonplace. This makes your disaster recovery plan much easier to test and manage. Critically, it’s highly cost effective to run as you only pay for the CPU and RAM when you need to use it. The best part is you and your team can trust it’s ready for you to use in a disaster.

But what about those times when you need to be able to test something in complete isolation of your production platform? The good news is, Veeam – the technology upon which UKFast’s DRaaS platform runs – has this in its arsenal too. Modern DR platforms are far from one dimensional. Using a platform like UKFast’s DRaaS will give you the ability to start up copies of your virtual machines on isolated networks, as and when you need them. Your development team can access a full clone of the live environment, inclusive of everything from the database servers through to active directory, if that’s what you require. All without any risk of making accidental alterations to the production platform and requiring just a few clicks either through Veeam or the MyUKFast portal.

When you’re done with testing your application or operating system, you can just turn off the VMs and the billing stops! On an ongoing basis you only pay for the storage and licensing of the replicated virtual machines. You can also get a refreshed version of your environment, allowing you to pick a newer restore point to create a VM from at the click of a button – including copies of your database.

Overall, DRaaS is a really powerful tool for business owners, IT/Ops managers, and developers to make use of, thanks to its simplicity of use but also its versatile functionality for those who wish to take full advantage of the technology.

Find out how UKFast’s DRaaS platform helps your business simplify disaster recovery. Get in touch on 0800 954 8224, or click below to learn more.