MSP Insights | Look To A Partner If Want To Successfully Offer DRaaS

Cloud Disaster Recovery
June 3, 2019

The importance of disaster recovery has been ingrained into businesses since the days of physical ledgers and bringing one set of books home while leaving another at the office. If there was a fire at your office, you still had all the critical information you needed to run your business. We’ve obviously come a long way since those analog days, but the intent is the same: keeping your business up and running in case something unforeseen happens.

Now, when we talk about disaster preparedness, the word on many people’s lips is DRaaS — disaster recovery as a service. At its most basic, DRaaS is an efficient way for companies to implement a disaster recovery plan, without the duplicate data centers, software and other tech that’s required when you do it in-house.

For MSPs in the “as-a-service” market, it’s never been more critical to be able to offer DRaaS as part of your solutions; it’s one of the first use cases for companies looking to take advantage of the cloud. However, it’s not easy to provide. Each customer has unique technology needs when it comes to disaster recovery, so finding a solution that’s repeatable is difficult. Partnering can help ease this difficulty and increase your opportunity and ability to provide DRaaS.

My company, Faction, is a multi-cloud Managed Services Provider, and disaster recovery is a big part of our business. We absolutely rely on partners to do what we do, and we’ve learned a lot about partnering during the time we’ve been in business. In this article we’ll look at three ways that partnering has helped us grow our DRaaS business, and how it can help MSPs in their market.

1. Make adoption easy. 

It’s no secret that the easier something is to adopt, the more likely customers are to adopt it. This is especially true for DRaaS.

DRaaS is a value-based service on burst. Customers don’t want to — and oftentimes can’t — pay for duplicate data centers that contain all the exact equipment and availability, plus all the costs, of their primary data center. Customers need to be able to stand up a small, low cost footprint in the public cloud that only houses the required systems like Active Directory for login and authentication. This limited environment can then be expanded on-demand when a failover occurs.

This combination of needs — burstability with easy adoption and configuration — is difficult to reproduce at scale. At Faction, we do this through VMware Cloud on AWS to provide a total solution for customers who need to protect on-premises, VMware workloads.

2. Get above the fray and find your niche. 

There are so many competing MSPs out there, nobody can be everything to every client. It’s more important now than ever to find a niche and be world-class in it. At Faction, we think VMware Cloud on AWS is a tremendous shift in public cloud; our niche is multi-cloud storage and our integration with VMware.

We launched our DR service in 2018 soon after the launch of VMware Cloud on AWS, and those partnerships with VMware and AWS were absolutely essential for our Hybrid DraaS (HDRaaSTM) offering.

Essentially, we deploy a pilot light architecture for our customers. This very limited footprint is made up of only the essential services needed to run the environment during and after a failover occurs. Any non-essential servers, like application and web servers, are replicated to cost-effective Faction storage that is connected adjacent to VMware Cloud on AWS. This allows customers to replicate large amounts of data without paying for unnecessary compute they don’t need. When a failover occurs, we spin up the servers on demand, allowing customers to cut over their traffic to the new environment in VMware Cloud on AWS.

3. Find the right partner. 

Of course, you can’t just partner for partnering’s sake. You have to find the right partners for what you’re trying to do. This means with storage providers as well as cloud services companies, where you can provide core value so it’s a total solution for your customers.

Our partnership with ClearSky Data is a perfect example. At Faction, we architect, implement, and support cloud solutions across multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments, and all of our customers have their own data centers and IT stacks. They’re typically very large enterprises, and we don’t manage any of their on-site environment or their migration of data into our Hybrid DRaaS. ClearSky, on the other hand, provides a complete storage service to their customers, with a service architecture that incorporates the cloud, the metro edge and a fully-managed 2U appliance on-premises to ensure data is accessible with excellent performance, no matter where it’s needed.

This partnership allows us to complete our DRaaS offering. With Faction’s HDRaaSTM, ClearSky handles making a single, durable copy of data accessible to customers and works with the customer on their runbook, providing soup-to-nuts management of their infrastructure needs. Faction never manages or touches the primary data on-prem.

This lets us provide a completely seamless on-demand DR solution, complete with native vCenter integration, solving a real pain point for enterprises looking to get out of their secondary data centers and into the cloud for disaster recovery. With compute and storage on demand, clients can access reserved resources, and activate them during a disaster. This removes the need for self-managed secondary sites, and the costs and management effort that go along with them.

Another area where finding the right partners can be an enormous benefit is in opening up new markets. Our customers tend to be very large enterprises, and, as I said, we don’t manage these customers’ on-prem storage or how they migrate data into Faction’s hosted environment. CSD gives Faction access to a new workloads in enterprises by extending from the customers data center and into Faction’s cloud.

Your Own DRaaS Journey

These three tips have helped us grow our DRaaS business tremendously. Hopefully they will help open the world of partnering for DRaaS to other MSPs. Once you’re there, that’s just the beginning. DRaaS is often the starting point for any company’s public cloud journey. A company will test it out and then, if they like what they see, fast follow with production use cases. Not only is DRaaS a great business on its own, it’s a low-risk, value-add way to land and expand accounts.

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