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5 Key Questions: Replication as a Service

In a previous post, we highlighted 5 Key Questions to Ask Your BaaS Provider. In this post, we’ll take a look at the solution one step further on the Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery continuum: Replication as a Service.

Defining Replication as a Service

It’s important to have a common understanding of a service so that everyone shares the same expectations. Nothing takes a conversation sideways faster than everyone working with different definitions of the same product.

At ServerCentral, Replication as a Service is ServerCentral-operated hardware and software that replicate and recover applications and data from a customer premise to one or more of our data centers.

Replication differs from backups in that it involves the frequent updating of data between multiple systems, whereas backups save a copy of data that remains unchanged for a period of time.

For the past year, we’ve studied the questions our customers, prospects, and partners have asked about replication solutions. We compared our findings with that of leading industry analysts to compile this list of 5 key questions you should ask about any RaaS or managed replication solution:

1. What Recovery Point Objective (RPO)/Recovery Time Objective (RTO) windows are supported?

When looking at replication solutions, it’s important to know how granular you can get with your RTO/RPO windows on an application-by-application basis. In most instances, there isn’t a need for immediate RTO or RPO—and the costs associated with providing an immediate level of service can become prohibitive. Flexibility between RPO/RTO windows per application enable you to tune the replication solution to meet specific requirements vs. a one-size-fits-all approach.

2. Are failover compute resources available on demand?

What you want to know here is whether or not you have to preorder or pre-purchase cold resources should there be a disaster. Many times, replication solutions do not include these resources (or they’re not even mentioned until the minute they’re needed). Plan ahead. Costs can become very real very quickly.

3. Can I replicate physical and virtual environments?

This is the money question. Are you limited to one type of environment? Many replication solutions only support virtual environments. In instances where replication solutions support physical and virtual environments, they may have wildly differing RPO/RTO windows. By asking “can” and “how” in advance, you can save yourself from headaches down the road.

4. Is replication possible at the data and application level?

Similar to the previous question, it’s important to know whether or not you can work at the data and app levels—or if this is only available on a case-by-case basis. The last thing you want here is a surprise. The difference between data- and app-level replication will have a material impact on your RPO/RTO windows, too.

5. Can I regularly execute failover tests?

There are two parts to this question:

  1. Are you able to perform this task on your own? In many instances, it will only be offered as a service.
  2. Are there licensing implications for the failover environment? You may incur additional costs for each failover test you perform because it trips your licensing on.
Know in advance what you can (and can’t) do—and what the associated costs will be.

If you’re interested in discussing any of these questions in more detail or have questions of your own, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Topics: Tips