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Data center disaster recovery

Weighing the pros and cons of the two most popular backup server options

August 09, 2019

From power failures and blackouts to viruses downloaded from the internet to climate-related incidents like wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes, there’s a variety of unforeseen events that can cripple a company’s IT functions. That’s why every business, regardless of size, needs a disaster recovery (DR) plan that outlines the steps to take should such an event occur, the people who are responsible for carrying them out and how to reach them.

Central to every DR is a backup strategy that includes determining how and how often servers need to be backed up and establishing a reliable secondary site where the backup data can be stored and easily recovered after a disaster occurs. The backup facility should have a fast network, redundant power supplies, physical security and certifications. It should also be located a considerable distance from the company’s data center (so it’s not likely to be subject to the same disaster). Case in point: When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, many New York City companies had their backup facilities in New Jersey, which was hit by the same storm. As a result, the main servers and backup servers were both destroyed, making the backup plan useless.
 
2 DR backup server options
Colocation
—This is essentially data center rental. The colocation company offers data center infrastructure, including power, cooling, cabling and connectivity. Many colocation providers offer “hot database” backup, an option that allows files to be updated in real-time and a copy of every file to be retrieved if an original file is lost or corrupted.

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)—This is a cloud-based recovery solution. DRaaS customers replicate virtual machines and sometimes even physical servers to a cloud service provider and have the ability to failover to and then run their virtual machines in the cloud should a disaster occur. DRaaS arrangements are delineated in an SLA and are provisioned either through a contract or on a pay-per-use basis.
 
The pros and cons of each
While both colocation and DRaaS are viable options for ensuring business continuity—allowing workloads to be successfully transitioned to a remote location in the event of disaster—each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The primary advantage of colocation is that it’s more cost effective than building a remote data center since all the companies that rent space at the facility share the cost.
However, because other companies lease space in the facility, additional space may not be available if an organization later requires it. Another disadvantage is that since colocation is tied to a physical location, it’s also susceptible to the effects of a disaster. (See the Hurricane Sandy example above.)
 
Taking all factors into consideration, including startup and monthly, DRaaS usually turns out to be less expensive than colocation over the long term. It’s also turnkey and can be customized to the needs of the user. Since a DRaaS providers’ entire business is devoted to disaster recovery, they have the specialized resources and personnel to do it right. Colocation, on the other hand, is merely about renting IT space, so users don’t get the benefit of that expertise.

When customers look to you for a recommendation on which DR option is better for their needs, it helps to know the pros and cons. For more expert advice, feel free to reach out to Ingram Micro’s data center expert, Samuel Alt.
 
If you have an upcoming data center project you need to tackle and would like to learn more about how Ingram Micro can help, contact the Solutions Design & Services team. We’re eager to make your project another success story.