The New Math of DRaaS
December 10, 2013 Alex Woodie
In the last several years, a whole new spectrum of possibilities has opened up for disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) in the midrange. The combination of inexpensive virtual tape libraries (VTLs), online backup to the cloud, and the managed service provider (MSP) business model puts in place the building blocks for vendors in the IBM i market to offer fully integrated DRaaS with 24-hour recovery time objectives (RTOs) for prices starting at $1,000 per month.
In the past, if a company wanted a full service DRaaS, they would call on IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (BCRS) or Sungard‘s availability services. While IBM BCRS and Sungard had the server and data center capacity to help a company recover after a disaster, the catch was that these services were quite expensive and often required companies to supply the technical expertise for DR tests or actual recoveries. These DRaaS offerings are really geared to Fortune 500 shops.
The DRaaS landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years. Thanks to new technology, like fast and cheap VTLs, and the acceptance of the MSP cloud business model, smaller companies are finding that DRaaS is within their reach.
One of the DRaaS providers plying the IBM i waters is TECA Data Safe of Minneapolis, Minnesota. TECA recently launched its new Rapid Rebound offering, which is a soup-to-nuts DRaaS offering that combines a VTL to replace tape backup, a guaranteed slice of an IBM i or X86 server to recover to, and all the technical services required to get the thing up and running, get it tested annually, and recover and run a client’s applications during and after an actual disaster. The all-inclusive pricing for this Rapid Rebound solution starts at $1,000 per month, which is cheap enough to fit into the budget of a small or midsize business (SMB).
TECA isn’t the only DRaaS provider in the IBM i sector of this burgeoning market. It competes against the likes of United Computer Group‘s VAULT400, DataStorage Corp.‘s SafeData DR, RES-Q Services, Recovery Point, and Venyu‘s RestartIT. That doesn’t even count the business continuity offerings of the production-oriented MSPs, such as Abacus Solutions, Baseline, Connectria, Meridian Group International, mindSHIFT Technologies, Symmetry, and Velocity Technology Solutions. And that doesn’t even include the high availability software vendors, who have started to move into this space.
While TECA recognizes there is competition in this market, the real competition is getting SMBs to recognize that they should have a DR plan in place, and that tape isn’t going to cut it. “The biggest challenge is for companies to recognize that disaster will strike,” says Ethan Bearman, the CTO for TECA. “To me it’s a bit eye-opening how many people we still talk to today that believe that backing up to tape and somebody taking one of those tapes home occasionally and putting it in their closet at home is a disaster recovery plan.”
People are starting to become open to the idea that sending backups over the Internet to a secure location is a better alternative to the sneakernet. Bearman, who also hosts various radio shows and podcasts, attributes this change to the likes of Carbonite and other PC-oriented backup solutions.
“It’s entering the consciousness, kind of like the iPhone or the Mac entering the enterprise marketplace,” Bearman says. “It’s the employees of the company, or maybe even the CEO, that’s hearing these ads for something like a Carbonite. They say, ‘Can we just sign up for Carbonite?’ Then they find out that Carbonite really doesn’t do what they need. It doesn’t work with the ‘400. And it doesn’t provide a platform for recovery.”
After a bit of research, they find TECA, or one of its (many) competitors, and the light bulb goes off. “So they’re thinking about it,” Bearman says. “Five years ago, there was not an opportunity for this type of a product. But now the price point has come down. The technology is robust. And it’s entered their consciousness due to the lower-end competitors.”
Tom Fischer, the CEO of TECA, sees the marketplace shifting. “There are so many companies out there that have just not pursued it,” he tells IT Jungle. “In the SMB market, they’re only now discovering that these comprehensive types of solutions are now available to them. A lot of them are used to something that maybe being used by Fortune 500 firms. But they think that’s not something for a $100 million company. We do have multi-billion dollar customers, too. But our solution is a good fit for the SMB market. That’s why we see this being so open, because a lot of people haven’t realized that there were solutions that were within their budgets.”
More IBM i shops would sign up for a DRaaS solutions for $1,000 per month if they realized how much more secure it would make their businesses, Bearman says. “It really provides an insurance policy against disaster in a very affordable way that just was never available before,” he says. “In the past it simply wasn’t affordable to do this type of solution, and now it is.
“All of a sudden, the math for using tapes and shipping tapes offsite using Iron Mountain doesn’t add up,” he continues. “Whereas we can offer a solution, and for that price, I get faster backups, it goes offsite over the wire, and I don’t have to have shipping containers or guys coming and going with tapes, which is a very insecure method of moving infuriate. Tapes get lost, tapes get too hot, tapes fail. [The DRaaS solution] is an efficient and effective means of protecting the company.”