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What is the difference between hosted colocation and DRaaS?

Enterprise IT organizations know the importance of disaster recovery. But which fits the budget, in-house expertise and testing requirements: hosted colocation or DRaaS?

Hosted colocation and disaster recovery as a service are similar ideas. A properly implemented disaster recovery...

plan could successfully utilize either option.

Hosted colocation and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) support data recovery and can potentially handle failover to the provider in the event of an outage at the primary data center. Choosing one over the other is really a question of provider specialization and integration with your primary data center.

As a simple example, most hosted colocation providers offer some form of backup or disaster recovery (DR) services. However, it's typically up to the organization to formulate the DR requirements, implement the proper services and ensure those services run properly. Hosted colocation providers usually offer some level of assistance in formulating a DR plan, but it may not be a specialty for the provider.

Hosted disaster recovery services may require long-term commitments that are difficult -- or costly -- to change later on. You're leasing a DR service in the same way you lease a rack of servers -- there's an element of lock in.

This classic, static colocation model doesn't work well for every enterprise. DR need and scope can change over time -- especially as your business grows, or the regulations that govern your industry change to encompass workloads and data that might have gone unprotected before.

DRaaS providers tend to implement a cloud-based infrastructure capable of providing more flexible and dynamic resources to protect clients' workloads and data. This reduces the long-term commitment to DR services. In-house staff at the DRaaS provider are often more knowledgeable about DR requirements and performance across a multitude of industries than colocation providers are.

DRaaS services often employ agents within the IT organization's systems to facilitate replication, along with other capabilities like data archiving and data lifecycle management tools -- such as the ability to automatically delete outdated data within the DR scheme according to the user's data retention policy. All of this software can impose significant additional costs for colocation deployments, but the software licenses needed for DR services are absorbed into the DRaaS offering -- the client doesn't need to go out and buy more software.

DR testing can also vary between hosted colocation and DRaaS providers. A conventional hosted colocation deployment does a fine job of replicating the production data center, but how is that DR plan tested without disrupting the production site or affecting DR preparedness? There may be additional costs for testing through the colocation company.

The cloud nature of a DRaaS offering can allow the IT organization to test a DR deployment with little -- if any -- advance preparation, and without affecting its production environment. This can significantly reduce or eliminate testing costs.

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This was last published in March 2016

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