DRaaS began rolling out with four or five providers who retooled their systems for cloud-based offerings a few years ago, says John Morency, Gartner's DR analyst. Now the market has ballooned to more than 100 vendors, ranging from startup pure-play DRaaS vendors to legacy DR heavyweights.
Morency estimates DRaaS is a $425 million to $450 million industry, still only a fraction of the overall $3.5 billion DR market. But Dines characterizes DRaaS as "a pretty big game changer that's shaking up the industry. It's a paradigm shift offering better recovery objectives for the same or less as traditional or outsourced models."
The arrival of the cloud services, she says, is coinciding with organizations looking to update or renew their DR practices to keep pace with their adoption of virtualization technologies.
The market has become an eclectic mix of traditional DR vendors, such as IBM, HP and SunGard who are each now offering cloud-based DR, while some other big players have taken to buying up or partnering with specialists. Dell, for example, teamed with Nirvanix, and CenturyLink scooped up Savvis to get into the cloud and DR market. Then there are the pure-play and startups that have focused their business on DRaaS, including Geminare, Bluelock, Doyenx, eVault, nScaled and Hosting.com, among others.
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The new cloud recovery model, however, brings new challenges. One of the biggest is bandwidth, especially for customers that have highly transactional apps, Dines says. DRaaS involves placing copies of applications and virtual machine images in the provider's cloud. When a disaster strikes, those apps and VMs are automatically brought out of storage and spun up. This allows users to not avoid paying for the reserved instances of VMs, or having dedicated infrastructure in a managed service model. The problem is those apps and VM images must be constantly updated. "You need to keep your DR site up to date, and that could mean moving large amounts of data daily," Dines says.
Apps with high rates of change, anything above 20 percent daily, may be uploading a lot of data to the cloud each day, she says, which could strain bandwidth. Because of this, Dines says the most common apps supported by DRaaS tend to be less complex ones that can be easily booted cold from a VM, and especially ones that already run on virtual machines. CRM, ERP and HCM apps may fit the bill, but highly transactional databases may not.
To deal with the bandwidth issue many providers team with a partner with a WAN optimization firm, or use types of caching to only send selective updates to the cloud, Dines says.
Richard Cocchiara, IBM's CTO for business continuity and resiliency services (BCRS) -- one of the legacy vendors that is pivoting to offer cloud-based DR services -- says the company works with customers to provide estimates of how much data upload/download will be needed as part of the vetting and customer acquisition process.