Articles

DIY Disaster Recovery Vs. Disaster Recovery As A Service (DRaaS)

With the cost of downtime estimated at $336,000 per hour*, the question “How would you rate your ability to execute a recovery following a disaster or business interruption?” can easily be a company’s “Million Dollar Question.” In fact, it can become a “Multi-Million Dollar Question” if your disaster recovery capabilities aren’t up to par. Given the stakes, the decision of whether to handle recovery internally – the DIY or “Do It Yourself” approach – or to contract with a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) provider is of paramount importance.

Here are some questions to consider as you decide which route to take: DIY disaster recovery or disaster recovery as a service?

What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)?

Whether you’re talking about remodeling a kitchen or recovering from a disaster, people typically make the assumption that “it’s cheaper if I do it myself.” But is it?

The (often unanticipated) costs involved in establishing and maintaining a DIY disaster recovery program are almost endless: hardware expenses, technology licenses, refreshes, system management, testing and exercises, upgrades and patches … the list goes on and on. Companies taking a DIY-route can end up adding to their total costs, rather than saving on the bottom line.

In contrast, a DRaaS environment rolls up all these costs into a single operational expense (opex) pricing structure. There is nothing hidden and nothing unanticipated. Costs are predictive and inclusive.

Will you create comprehensive documentation?

In a DIY disaster recovery scenario, documentation is one of the first things to go out the window. It’s easy for internal IT staff to say, “We know how to do that – we don’t need to write down the procedures.” But at time of crisis, you might find out (to your dismay) that the people who know how to perform certain tasks are unavailable. They may even have left the company.


For DRaaS providers, change management is a core competency. They will keep an exact replica of your production environment running at their secondary site, documenting changes in applications, processes, procedures, and people as they occur.

Will you be in compliance?

Compliance is a big concern for just about every company. Do you have the expertise to comply with PCI, ISO, or HIPAA regulations – or whatever other standards might apply to your business? If not, you risk investigations, assessments, and fines, not to mention awkward questions from your board of directors, investors, and stakeholders.

On the other hand, DRaaS providers live and breathe regulatory compliance. It is built into their solutions and services, relieving you of the pressure of asking, “Did we do it right?”

Will you perform regular testing exercises?

A disaster recovery program is only as good as the results of its testing exercises. Yet time and again, companies who choose to go the DIY route find that their disaster recovery test results are unsatisfactory … if they take the time and effort to test at all.

DRaaS providers don’t trust to luck. They require rigorous and consistent testing to ensure that the disaster recovery program is complete and is in alignment with business requirements.

Will your RTA match your RTO?

At the core of every disaster recovery program is a Recovery Time Objective (RTO). But that’s not the most important factor. The most important factor is your Recovery Time Actual (RTA). That is, how long does it actually take to recover from an event?

For disaster recovery DIYers, the difference between the RTO and the RTA can be staggering because:

  • Investments need to be made in additional hardware or software
  • Disaster recovery documentation is not complete
  • Best practices haven’t been incorporated and implemented
  • Interdependencies haven’t been adequately mapped out
  • Changes in the system have not been managed appropriately
  • People need more training to be able to carry out their tasks in a crisis situation
  • DRaaS providers, however, take steps to ensure that the RTO and the RTA are the same. They know that their clients are relying on them to recover the business as a whole.

The Disaster Recovery Reality Check

The expectations of DIY disaster recovery simply do not match up to the reality for the vast majority of businesses today. It’s not easier, better, or cheaper. And it can cost a company on many levels if a disaster does occur and recovery doesn’t.

Ultimately, you want to be able to answer the question “How would you rate your ability to execute a recovery following a disaster or business interruption?” with “On a scale of 1 to 10, our ability to recover is an 11!” A DRaaS provider can turn that expectation into a reality for your business.

* Lerner, Andrew. “The Cost of Downtime,” Gartner Blog Network, July 16, 2014.

Related Business Solution: Find out more about Disaster Recovery as a Service