DR ≠ DRaaS (What the fudge?!)?

Are you a Scrabble lover? New York Times crossword champ? Addicted to Wordle? You’ll probably be glad that words still matter in an age dominated by 1s and 0s, especially if you’re putting together a disaster recovery plan with millions of rands of your company’s data and infrastructure at risk. It’s why we’re making DR as simple as in this blog. Then we’re putting on x-ray glasses to see why a DR plan that can keep your business bouncing back from disaster usually includes them all. 

What is Disaster Recovery?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever called virtual replication ‘Disaster Recovery.’ It’s like reaching for that trusty hammer in your toolbox every time. It does the job when everyone’s talking about virtual replication (creating a near-synchronous virtual replication of your business-critical workloads). But what happens when the other person thinks you’re talking about DR in the true sense of the word?

Why is DR ≠ DraaS?

“DR” is often used as shorthand for DRaaS. It’s important to understand they’re different. Think of it this way: DR is your survival kit in an IT disaster – filled with tools and strategies to help you bounce back. DRaaS is the pre-built emergency shelter inside the survival kit. 

Time to put those X-ray goggles on for a closer look:


Aspect Disaster Recovery (DR) Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
Definition The toolbox of strategies and processes for resuming operations after a disruption. A DR tool offering near-instantaneous failover to a virtual replication of your business-critical workloads and applications. 
Scope Minimize downtime and data loss after a significant disruption. Rapid recovery via near-instantaneous failover to a virtual replication of your operating environment. 
Why businesses need it DR tools include DRaaS, BaaS, failover servers, redundancy measures, physical backups, etc. The convenience of DRaaS providers managing infrastructure, maintenance, and testing of the failover environment.
Planning and preparedness Requires careful planning, testing, and documentation to ensure adequate recovery. Usually involves a monthly or annual subscription fee to access service.

If you remember one thing…

☂️ DRaaS falls under the umbrella of DR, but not all DR solutions are DRaaS

Why is there so much confusion? (it’s probably our bad)

Even within our teams, ‘Disaster Recovery’ is used interchangeably with Failover, DRaaS, or Virtual Replication. In a close-knit group, it’s easy to discern the meaning of the problem, context, and even the tone of a teammate. This shorthand exists in all complex industries, including IT. 

Here are some other ways “DR” gets used as shorthand:

  • Backup and restore on-prem 
  • Backup and restore on the cloud, AKA Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS)
  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
  • Failover
  • Virtual replication
  • Business Continuity (BC): Includes DR strategies and covers communication plans, employee training, and alternative work arrangements.
  • Active/Active or Active/Passive Cluster: These configurations involve redundant systems running simultaneously, with failover happening as the workload is redirected 
  • Hot/Warm standby sites: Pre-configured secondary environments, like DRaaS, but need maintenance and infrastructure investment

Other than the grammar police, why does it matter how we use “DR”?

It can breed confusion and throw your Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) way off the mark. Worst case? Imagine your security perimeter’s been breached. Your CEO envisioned instant cloud resurrection (DRaaS) when, in fact, (BaaS) was the service she signed off on months ago, where the standard recovery period is several days.

Do you know enough about DRaaS and BaaS to avoid making an a** of yourself in conversation? Read on…

DRaaS and BaaS are the hare and the tortoise in your DR toolbox

They make disaster recovery plans (DRP) comprehensive and agile enough to bounce back from disasters. Ideally, your DRP needs both, but it will depend on your risk tolerance and budgetary constraints. This blog takes a fresh, super-informative look into what makes BaaS and DRaaS different. For now, let’s just nail down the basics.  

Making DRaaS, simple aaS

🐇 The rapid option (DRaaS)

You need DRaaS if you’re a busy ecommerce retailer and can’t afford even minutes of downtime. DRaaS is like renting a virtual replica of your primary system, already set up and ready to use in the cloud. Its superpower is switching from your primary system to the secondary system (Failover) near-instantaneously. Whenever people say “rapid” disaster recovery, they probably mean DRaaS.

Why do you need DRaaS in your Disaster Recovery Plan? 

If you have business-critical applications or data that you can’t afford to have inaccessible or offline for even a few minutes, DRaaS gets you back online within minutes. 

When is DRaaS ideal for your business?

  • An online payment processing platform implements DRaaS to ensure near-instantaneous failover in case of a cyberattack. 
  • You’re a manufacturer safeguarding production data, design files, and supply chain management systems to minimize production line disruption

The lowdown on DRaaS

Pros Cons
👍Virtually instant failover 👎 Vendor lock-in can make switching complicated and expensive
👍 No need to build and maintain your own secondary data center, saving on hardware, software, and personnel 👎 Cheaper than building your own DR infrastructure, but subs can add to your operational costs
👍 DRaaS providers handle setup, ongoing maintenance, and testing of the failover environment 👎Less control over the cloud environment managed by the provider
👍 Scaling options to accommodate your growth or fluctuating resource needs 👎 Limited control over the failover environment and security compared to on-prem solution
👍Cloud providers offer robust security measures, potentially exceeding on-prem security 👎 Internet disruptions in internet access can slow down failover and recovery
👍 Ensures business continuity even in the face of significant disruptions 👎 Large data transfers to and from the cloud environment can get pricey
👎 Smaller recovery window – usually only 30 days, which can mean extensive data loss without additional backup measures in place

If you remember one thing… 

🐇 Rapid recovery can come at a price when you have large data transfers 

Making BaaS, simple aaS

🐢The long-term backup option (BaaS)

With Backup-as-a-Service, your company takes the pay-as-you-go approach to data protection and recovery of business-critical applications on the cloud. BaaS providers offer pre-built backend functionalities like user management, data storage, and APIs. It’s a time and resource saver compared to building everything from scratch.

Why do you need BaaS in your Disaster Recovery Plan? 

You run a small e-commerce business that relies heavily on customer data, product listings, and transaction records stored on your company’s servers. One day, your on-premises server experiences a hardware failure, resulting in critical data loss.

You call the BaaS provider to whom you’ve been paying monthly subscription fees. They say they can restore your business-critical apps and databases from the backups – regardless of what happened to your primary system. Once your infrastructure is restored, you can migrate your data. A backup system is always worth a spot in your DRP because it protects your backups from threats like hardware failures, data corruption, accidental deletions (Oh Cathy!), and disasters. 

When is BaaS ideal for your business?

  • You’re a legal firm able to tolerate low downtimes for critical systems
  • You’re a healthcare provider who needs to store patient records securely for the long term and comply with HIPAA regulations.


What’s the down-low on BaaS?

Pros Cons
👍 Pre-built backend functionalities save time and resources. 👎  Less control over infrastructure and customization.
👍 Pay-as-you-go means no upfront investments. 👎 Switching providers can be difficult and expensive.
👍 Any size business can adjust resources up or down as needed. 👎 Data stored with a third-party provider involves security risks.
👍 BaaS providers handle maintenance and updates. 👎 Costs can add up for high-traffic applications.
👍 Access apps from anywhere there’s an internet connection. 👎 Not all platforms offer the same features.
👍 Convenience of your BaaS provider’s expertise in backend dev and security. 👎 Sharing resources can lead to performance limitations.
👍  Bigger recovery windows – less data loss. Your backup can stretch as far back as you want it to be.


👎 Longer recovery times than solutions like DRaaS, which can have RTOs measured in seconds to minutes

If you remember two things… 

🐇DRaaS = rapid recovery

🐢BaaS = long-term protection

It all comes together

A robust DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) is essential for businesses to ensure continuity and data protection in the face of disruptions. Both DraaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) and BaaS (Backup as a Service) can be tailored to suit a business’s risk appetite and recovery needs.

Backup Only (BaaS):

  • Risk tolerance: High
  • Use case: A backup-only approach might be sufficient if a business has a relatively high-risk tolerance and can tolerate critical workloads and applications being offline for a few hours or even days in case of a disaster.
  • DR strategy: The organization relies primarily on BaaS, involving regular data backups to safeguard against data loss. It’s better for less critical data since backup restoration can take time.

DRaaS for Short-Term Recovery + BaaS for Full Restoration:

  • Risk tolerance: Moderate
  • Use case: Businesses with a moderate risk tolerance value a balance between rapid recovery and data security.
  • DR strategy: Here, DRaaS is employed for short-term recovery needs. DRaaS offers near-instantaneous failover to a cloud environment, minimizing downtime for critical systems. BaaS complements this by providing robust data backup and archival capabilities for long-term data security.

DRaaS + BaaS for Full Recovery:

  • Risk Tolerance: Low
  • Scenario: Any disruption in business operations is unacceptable for organizations with a low-risk tolerance.
  • DR Strategy: DRaaS takes the lead in this scenario, ensuring near-instantaneous failover for uninterrupted operations. BaaS is crucial in preserving historical data and enabling comprehensive data recovery. It is essential for regulatory compliance and complete data restoration.

If you remember three things… 

🐇 DRaaS = minimal downtime

🐢 BaaS = maximum protection

👉  Checkout issue one of our newsletter: Cloud Crowd