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THE DATA CENTER JOURNAL | 5 severely limit a company's choice of DR providers or DR-site locations. In such cases (oen corresponding to urban areas), however, providers will likely recognize the demand and the needs of their clientele, particularly with regard to location. DRAAS: A CAREFREE SOLUTION? A company that needs a DR solution can therefore sign on with a DRaaS provider and expect ev- erything to go smoothly even in the worst situations—right? Not quite. e customer still must bear some of the load. "Although the DRaaS pro- vider is responsible for the required infrastructure, the application tier is typically the customer's responsibil- ity," Fuhrman said. "Application eco- systems are different from customer to customer and are subject to con- sistent change. DRaaS providers may be aware of high-level application architectures but are seldom privy to the intricate operational details of the customer environment." Preparation on the part of the customer is still crucial, therefore. In addition, it requires a degree of main- tenance: as the company changes, which it doubtless will do over time, its DR needs will change, too. And the middle of a disaster is no time to make changes to the response plan. Fuhrman noted, "DR isn't some- thing you adjust on the fly—in either self-deployed or DRaaS environ- ments. It requires careful planning, and customers need to do their due diligence in determining their real business needs. Creating a DR plan or establishing an entire environment on a whim will lead to a false sense of security, and oen the DR response will fail when it's really needed." But as Fuhrman also noted, ser- vice providers can offer professional assistance in establishing and testing DR operations to ensure the invest- ment pays returns, should disaster strike. And thanks to their experi- ence, they can identify "gotchas" that an in-house effort might overlook. For example, growth in company net- works can create a complex problem when the time comes to move the various connections between us- ers and applications to a DR site. "A third-party provider can oen assist in addressing such issues during the DR-planning stages to ensure that the evolution of DRaaS will incorporate soware-defined networking (SDNet) technology. SDNet will automate many currently manual processes associated with changing network connectivity between the end user and the DR environment." No plan will yield consistent and reliable results if it fails to undergo testing. In this regard as well, cus- tomers bear some responsibility for ensuring they'll weather a disaster, should it occur. "Although many providers and DIY DR customers test whether systems come up in the DR site, they don't necessarily test the application stack sufficiently. is omission could lead to large delays and perhaps even failure of the DR environment when it's most critical," said Fuhrman. CONCLUSION: KNOW THYSELF So often, the choice between the cloud and in-house IT comes down to the specifics of the situation. Each company must therefore know its business and its requirements, and gaining that knowledge takes some work. In the case of implementing a disaster- recovery site, the cloud option may be the best bet for nearly all organizations, but other important matters remain: particularly, for example, addressing the organization's unique application stack and testing requirements. Complicating factors include regulatory compliance and latency requirements. Whatever the case, each company bears some responsibility for ensuring it's prepared to continue operating if a disaster strikes. Given the growing cost of downtime, a disaster preparedness and recovery plan is increasingly critical to business survival. Fortunately for those who lack the in-house talent or wherewithal to build a company- owned remote backup data center, cloud-based options provide a solid, if not superior, alternative—at least to those still willing to do some planning and testing. n

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