5 Questions you should ask when evaluating your Disaster Recovery Provider

Choosing the right disaster recovery partner is a big decision. And with so many DR providers to choose from, it is important to make the right choice seeing that the life of your business might depend on it. 

Here are 5 great questions we suggest you ask your DR provider before making a final decision:

Gartner predicted the public cloud services market would grow to $494.7 billion in revenue this year. With it will come a host of “as-a-service” solutions and on-demand scalable information technology such as backup and recovery. 

Cloud is the driving force for many organizations today. Yet, with buzzwords like “cloud workloads” and “cloud computing” dominating the headlines, organizations often struggle to understand the benefits and challenges of cloud backup, cloud storage and cloud-based disaster recovery. 

1. How do I get my data back from your cloud?

How do I get my data back from your cloud under normal circumstances and after a DR failover? And what are the costs for running on your DR provider’s infrastructure during failover?

Disaster can come in the form of 

  • corruption
  • employee theft
  • hurricanes
  • ransomware, or 
  • good old human error. 

What they all have in common are downtime and data loss. Worst case scenario, they also take down your applications and/or your network. 

So, when you consider disaster recovery, it’s important to understand what RTO and RPO (recovery time objective and recovery point objective) the provider can offer. Ideally, you want data protection that could immediately restore all lost data and applications to the exact time and point of failure and immediately have your organization back to business as usual.

You also want to look at hidden costs and make sure what charges will be levied once you need to move or restore your data from the cloud to on-prem, for example. Most providers will charge anything from $2 to $9 per terabyte to move your data, so watch for that egress roach motel

2. How do I fail over my network without having to re-IP?

If you experience a total network failure, it’s important to understand what your DR service provider can and cannot do. Can they recover your network using the same IP address as before? Will you have to change your VPN or DNS settings?

Traditional disaster recovery solutions offer full network recovery of the local area network, so it’s easy to assume that there’ll be no need to re-IP. But unless your provider is also an ISP (internet service provider), it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to offer full network recovery or guarantee that your IP address will remain unchanged. 

3. What is your oversubscription rate for DR? 

In layman’s terms, in case of a large-scale disaster, how many customers can you fail over simultaneously? To prevent unnecessary bandwidth congestion when all servers are sending traffic simultaneously, your DR provider need an acceptable oversubscription ratio of 3:1 or less. As the number of servers in the fabric increases, so does the oversubscription ratio. It will similarly decrease with an efficient network configuration has been implemented (e.g. leave and spine architecture). 

In respect of failover, it’s often about the probability of a large number of clients needing failover at the same time. Service providers need to statistically consider how many clients will need DR failover at the same time. Does your DR provider have a protocol and plan in place should this scenario ever occur? Ask your service provider about their plan – if they have one. 

4. How are you protecting my public cloud data? 

Having your VMs and data in the public cloud still requires a backup and disaster recovery solution. Since enterprises have migrated to the cloud, many think their servers and data are safe just because it is kept with a well-known cloud service provider (such as Azure, Google or Amazon). 

This is a huge misconception. The onus is as much on you or your IT Manager as it is on the cloud provider to keep your data and cloud services safe and secure. You should therefore check with your DR provider if they have any resilience built in to keep your data secure. 

5. How do you guarantee my monthly bill will remain the same? 

Make sure that you know what your provider will charge to, for example, move or restore your data. Egress charges have long been one of the biggest inhibitors to companies wanting to move their data into (and out of) the cloud. It’s also one of the reasons that clients often get a massive surprise when receiving their monthly bill. 

You should also factor in business growth – you’ll want to add more users and data as your business grows. This will naturally increase your bill. But this is something that you know upfront and can prepare for. 

These charges make it virtually impossible to predict how much money will actually be spent to manage data effectively. It will serve you well to ask your provider about any costs that are not clear upfront. And make sure that all costs and potential costs are captured in your service level agreement. 

Final thoughts

Disaster recovery is important to any organization’s overall business continuity plan. Choosing a DR provider that you can rely on to keep your business up and running during a disaster or disruptive event is vital. So, by asking these questions, you’ll be able to determine whether or not a particular DR provider is the right fit for your organization.