Is your business one of the 253,500 organizations that runs on SAP ? If so, you understand full well why this industry-leading, all-encompassing client/server platform is considered a “crown jewel” application: First, you’ve made a significant investment to deploy, maintain and extend your SAP application platform. And, second, you can’t live without it. While that may sound a bit extreme, many businesses literally could not function if their SAP ERP system went down. In the event of a disaster or outage affecting an SAP platform, everything that goes into running the business could come screeching to a halt.
How could any business—including yours—possibly prepare itself for such a scenario? The answer is business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR). There are several options when it comes to ensuring continuity and disaster readiness for your SAP-based operations. Here’s a quick rundown of your choices and some of the pros and cons of each.
Option 1: In-house Backup Solution (“Restore Only”)
Your first option is to manage backup and recovery for SAP using internal staff and software. In the past, many companies have relied upon traditional backup software to back up and restore their SAP database in the event of an outage or disaster—and some still do. Companies using this method need a physical failover site that they can bring online to restore the database when needed.
In-house backup and recovery is a basic, lower-cost solution, but it creates only a restorable SAP environment, not a fully recoverable one. There is a difference. Keep in mind, this method only restores the data. It does not recover your full environment. After restoring the database and bringing up the failover site, you’ll still need to work to recover the application level and bring users up on the failover environment. The burden of managing and executing on a BC/DR plan for SAP falls on the shoulders of your corporate IT staff with this option, which may or may not be a workable solution depending on your internal resource levels and knowledge base.
Pros: Low recurring cost
Cons: Incomplete solution, heavy burden on internal IT staff to deal with a crisis
Option 2: Raas (“Recover”)
With your second option, RaaS (Recovery as a Service), an outsourced service provider manages the backup software to fully recover your database and application environment. The “as a Service” lingo refers to the fact that the provider uses the cloud to maintain a failover instance of your SAP platform. This model eliminates the need for significant capital expenditures for backup facilities, hardware and software. Instead, you pay a recurring service fee as an operating expense, which can offer significant flexibility and budgeting advantages. With RaaS, while the backup technology is handled for you, it still falls to internal staff to manage and implement SAP recovery plans.
Pros: Full recoverability of both database and application environment, as well as a standby instance of your SAP applications
Cons: Higher cost than in-house solution, burden of business continuity program management continues to fall in-house
Option 3: Managed Recovery Services (“Recover +”)
Your third and final option is to outsource a full managed recovery services program. This option is basically a fuller-support version of option 2. Just like option 2, this option leverages cloud technology to maintain a failover instance of your SAP apps and carries an operating-expense-based cost model. With managed recovery services, the provider also brings to the table specialized expertise in BC/DR to help you develop, test and execute a BC/DR plan. The provider takes you step by step through the BC/DR planning process, ensuring that you have every base covered to maintain business continuity. And in the event of a disaster, the external partner runs your disaster recovery program for you
Pros: The benefits of option 2 with added guidance and support through a disaster, decreased burden on internal IT staff, greater peace of mind
Cons: Slightly more expensive than option 2
How do you choose which option is right for your business? With cloud technology, option 1 is quickly becoming obsolete, as the ease and operating expense model of the RaaS and managed recovery service model are attracting many converts. To my mind, it comes down to a choice between option 2 and option 3. You will want your SAP environment to be fully recoverable—not simply restorable—and that eliminates option 1.
Choosing between option 2 and option 3 will depend on the breadth and depth of your internal team. If you’ve got the in-house staff and know-how to manage and implement a BC/DR plan for SAP, then option 2 might be for you. Seeking additional expertise and support? For a bit more budget each month, you might decide option 3 is for you.
The question to ask yourself—and your SAP applications manager—is this: Is your mission-critical SAP applications environment fully recoverable? Or is it only restorable? For most businesses, being equipped for a full recovery is a must. With a solid BC/DR plan, perhaps backed by expert vendor support in the form of RaaS or managed recovery services, you can ensure full recoverability and be prepared to safeguard your crown jewel SAP environment, no matter what kind of royal disaster might strike.
Related Business Solution: Application Management
This blog was previously posted on Forbes.com