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Top DRaaS companies to watch

May 10, 201710 mins
Backup and RecoveryBusiness ContinuityDisaster Recovery

Forrester Research releases its report on the disaster-recovery-as-a-service companies that lead the market segment.

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Forrester Research recently released its report naming Sungard AS, Bluelock, IBM and iland as the top disaster recovery-as-a-service companies.

With enterprises expecting their network up at all times, backup and recovery are key to keeping things running smoothly with no downtime. With ransomware waiting to pounce the minute a user clicks on a link, companies rely on network recovery in a matter of minutes not days.

Enterprise DRaaS adoption has grown steadily in recent years; currently, 40 percent of enterprises have adopted it, with another 24 percent planning to do so, according to the research firm.

Forrester, which based its research on vendor surveys, product demos and customer reference calls, defines DRaaS as: "a pay-per-use managed service that uses cloud-based infrastructure and continuous replication technologies and orchestrates the transition of applications to recovery infrastructure in case of an outage to deliver a resilient business service."

While Sungard AS's Recovery and Business Continuity Services, Bluelock DRaaS, IBM Disaster Recovery as a Service and iland Secure DRaaS lead the group with high marks, they are followed by HPE Helion and Veritas Continuity Service, Recovery Point's INcloud DRaaS, Daisy DRaaS, Plan B -- Managed & Tested and TierPoint's Disaster Recovery as a Service in the next tier. NTT Cloud Recovery lags behind.

Forrester evaluated each vendor on 26 criteria, with the key differentiators setting the leaders apart was application orchestration, security, and recovery readiness. Some other criteria measured included evaluating providers' recovery options, tiers of recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO), and technology support.

It was noted that each vendor has Its own cloud-based infrastructure, support for at least two replication technologies, a self-service portal for its clients; consulting services to help clients establish resilience plan, and at least two data center locations from which it renders services.

Vendor breakdown

Here is a breakdown of each vendor according to Forrester's report.

Sungard Availability Services. DR services from Sungard AS support replication and recovery for physical and virtual infrastructure and storage area network (SAN)-based replication. Sungard AS manages the recovery exercise; its technical support staff is responsible for ensuring successful test execution and ongoing performance improvements. It enables orderly, large-scale infrastructure recovery using application discovery and dependency mapping, automated change management, and advanced orchestration tools that can automate recovery tasks at a business application level.

The Sungard Availability Services Managed Recovery Program provides fully managed recovery to the application level to complement the infrastructure OS and virtualization-level cloudbased recovery capabilities.

Sungard AS could be even better with improved dashboards and self-service. It currently lacks a readiness for recovery view. Its self-service GUI for testing, provisioning, DR invocatio, and DR runbooks is not very intuitive.

Bluelock. Bluelock's automated recovery includes machine startup, resource provisioning, success/failure assessment, and hierarchy-based and group-based recovery of systems based on their dependencies or RTO /RPO requirements. Bluelock Portfolio is a consolidated decision support system for a client's entire recovery environment, allowing for recovery, testing, and documentation. Its unique Recovery Health feature is an automated real-time assessment of a client's recovery environment. Bluelock offers historical test results on the self-service portal. Bluelock deploys a host of security infrastructure like two-factor authentication, a high-availability (HA) firewall, an intrusion detection system (IDS), and automated and manual penetration testing.

Bluelock could be even better with improved heterogeneous platform support. Its primary challenge is that it delivers recovery services for Intel platforms and lacks support for heterogeneous platforms.

IBM. IBM offers three service levels -- gold, silve, and bronze -- with recovery times from a few minutes to 6 hours. IBM recently acquired Sanovi Technologies, whose orchestration technology augments IBM's existing resiliency portfolio with a solution that simplifies and automates the DR process, manages recovery workflows, and reduces recovery time, operating costs, and DR drill testing time. IBM's portfolio also includes services like business continuity planning, risk assessment, consulting, design, and implementation.

From a central dashboard, resiliency professionals can automate and monitor RPOs and RTO s in their disaster recovery environments by application, server or database to work toward business-driven recovery outcomes.

IBM could be even better if it improves its self-service; the vendor's primary challenges are in unifying its self-service portal because of the Sanovi acquisition.

Iland. The vendor delivers its iland Secure DRaaS using Double-Take, Veeam Software and Zerto. Its self-service console integrates the underpinning replication solutions and makes it easy for customers to perform all operations on a single console. The iland Secure Cloud Console automatically measures the RPO and displays it over time and offers embedded security and compliance reporting. Once failover is executed, systems are scanned regularly for viruses, vulnerabilities, file integrity, firewall events, web reputation, application control and intrusions. Upon failover, customers immediately gain access to built-in seven-day backups, providing additional resiliency.

With expanded platform support, iland could be even better. Like many providers, iland lacks complete coverage of enterprises' heterogeneous technology infrastructure. Orchestration at the hypervisor level serves this purpose, but enterprise customers also need business application orchestration, which iland currently lacks.

HPE Enterprise Services (now DXC Technology). HPE Enterprise Services uses the Veritas Resiliency Platform (VRP) and Microsoft Azure Site Recovery for replication and the administrator portal. The VRP self-service portal has an intuitive interface for administrative tasks and procedures. Its dashboard displays the high-level status of all protected data centers and gives visibility into the achievement of RTO s and RPOs. VRP performs patch management and vulnerability scanning and has firewalls for security controls and access. VRP's orchestration capabilities are quite comprehensive compared with those of other vendors in this evaluation.

HPE Enterprise Services -- and its successor, DXC Technology -- needs to clarify a broader replication and message. HPE Enterprise Services' DRaaS portfolio lacks key replication capabilities like SAN replication.

Recovery Point. Recovery Point supports physical and virtual environments, including complex, heterogeneous environments installed across hybrid data center configurations. It offers a comprehensive RACI chart that outlines all activities and tasks for all phases of recovery as well as assisted and managed services. Clients can order a Cisco ASA firewall or bring in their own physical or virtual security devices. One of Recovery Point's unique differentiators is customer obsession; as part of the onboarding process, every customer receives a clear escalation hierarchy going up to the executive management. Clients have to navigate through many portals to ensure that the right recovery solution is developed.

Recovery Point could be even better by simplifying its interface. Its manual, document-based runbook is quite comprehensive but can be cumbersome for a client with a complex, heterogeneous environment -- a potential impediment to shorter recovery times. Recovery Point depends on built-in orchestration from Zerto but has not integrated it with the rest of its technology infrastructure. The provider's client portal, INcloud Service Catalog, acts as a landing page and redirects clients to independent portals from technology partners like Capital Continuity, vCloud Director, and Zerto.

Daisy. Daisy uses cloud-based recovery technologies such as Double-Take, Asigra, Veeam, VMware, and Zerto. It also supports NetApp-based storage replication technology. Daisy's Partner Portal offers an intuitive spiderweb graph to demonstrate the readiness, rehearsals, last rehearsal date, number of active customer sites, and number of sites covered. All of Daisy Group's Daisy Cloud data centers are tier 3-aligned and ISO 27001-accredited.

It performs physical and soft penetration testing at least annually, and its customers are free to perform their own physical penetration testing. Daisy rotates among three penetration test companies to avoid complacency. Its portfolio offers solutions that encrypt customer data in flight and at rest to FIPS 140-2 standards. Daisy supports clients when they bring their own security devices into its recovery data centers.

Daisy could improve its interface. Daisy's self-service portal acts as a landing page and redirects users to independent portals from technology vendors like Asigra and Zerto. All administrative actions, including protection group formation, runbook creation, and testing, are performed at the Zerto portal.

Plan B. Plan B's core offering is fully managed DRaaS that is responsible for recovering a customer's infrastructure to the application level. It offers two methods of replicating customer data using Zerto and Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service that provide an RTO between 6 seconds and 24 hours. By default, Plan B stores customer data in many locations in tier 3 data centers in the UK. Customers may choose to store data in a single location should they want to reduce data storage costs. Plan B provides services from ISO 27001- and PCI-accredited data centers. In-flight data is always encrypted, either by an IPsec VPN or an SSL connection. By default, firewalls and VPNs terminate either on Cisco ASA firewalls or on vyOS-based software firewalls.

Plan B could improve its interface. Plan B offers a very primitive self-service portal that needs a boost. It does report operational statistics like RTO , RPO, and network traffic, but it could be more intuitive. It reports these statistics by server or VM but not by application or application group.

TierPoint. TierPoint developed its recovery management portal (RMP) using the Geminare cloud management stack, which helps TierPoint ingest multiple replication and recovery tools into the platform and manages multiple technologies from a single portal. TierPoint supports Microsoft Azure Site Recovery and Zerto for replication, storage-based replication, and Oracle and SQL log shipping for keeping records up to date. It offers an assessment of the readiness of individual servers or VMs. TierPoint uses Geminare's built-in runbook automation to orchestrate recovery tasks. It supports clients that bring their own security infrastructure.

TierPoint needs a stronger portal. Service Health in the Geminare portal is based on whether Windows services are running on the protected machines. TierPoint may hit a roadblock, as it depends on Geminare to infuse additional functionality into the self-service portal.

NTT Communications. NTT Communications supports the VMware Site Recovery Manager, Veeam Backup & Replication, Microsoft Azure Site Recovery and EMC RecoverPoint replication technologies. It uses the Geminare RMP to display the protection of the recovery environment. RMP has built-in orchestration that integrates task automation at the hypervisor layer. Data stored in the NTT Enterprise Cloud is further backed up at the infrastructure (hypervisor) level via snapshot technology to local data vaults.

Security services include complete perimeter protection featuring firewalls, web application firewalls, and IDS and intrusion prevention systems in physical and virtual environments. Coupled with a security information and event management solution, intelligent correlation, and escalation solutions, it offers a global threat response, mitigation, and remediation service. Its data centers have SSAE 16, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, and HIPAA certifications.

NTT Communications could use a stronger portal. Service Health in the Geminare portal is based on whether Windows services are running on the protected machines. NTT Communications will get better by supporting recovery through the application layer.