IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

In many organizations the way that data backup is handled hasn’t changed much over the years, despite the fact that we are in the middle of a digital revolution! Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn looks at why this is and calls for organizations to move towards continuous data protection.

Digital transformation has meant that the way products and services are purchased has changed – essentially, the market has evolved along with business models. Companies increasingly cannot afford to lose data, and with the constant headlines of ransomware attacks, phishing scams, data leaks and security breaches, this is becoming an ever-increasing challenge. The question is, if the world of IT is changing, why isn’t backup?

Backup 1988 vs. 2018

The traditional backup architecture has been around since the invention of IT. It works by copying data to a different storage architecture, at a fixed point in time, generally at night. This is usually done as quickly as possible as it has an impact on the IT environment’s performance level and infrastructure. However, backup hasn’t changed much from this in the last thirty years, and so isn’t keeping up with the modern age.

Backup revolves around securing data to prevent data loss. Over time, companies have come to realise that they are heavily dependent on their data – fewer companies can cope with any kind of data loss. For example, an online shop cannot afford to lose twelve hours of data due to an outage – not only would it lose twelve hours of orders and sales, but its reputation will also be damaged in the long run. To put this into context, a recent study found that nearly half of businesses have suffered an unrecoverable data event in the last three years, and of these, 20 percent reported a loss of customers, and 19 percent had direct damage to the company reputation. All of this combined can, unfortunately, sometimes mean the end of the business.

Data-driven business models

More and more organizations are using data, and are adjusting their business models on the basis of this data in order to drive more conversations and sales. One example of this is Porsche – its current main goal is to achieve 30 percent more turnover, not by selling more cars, but by providing additional services from analysing data received from the cars and customers. To do this, customers are first given a maintenance subscription that enables them to get notifications for things such as the brake discs needing to be replaced after 5,000 kilometres. This then gives Porche extra data, which can in turn be analysed and used to drive sales, improve numbers, and plan ahead.

However, although many companies are now becoming dependent on data in order to progress their business, not many regularly carry out a risk assessment to make sure this data is protected. If something were to happen, such as an outage-based data loss or a ransomware attack, how much would it cost the company in terms of turnover, administration or reputational damage? In reality, many organizations make this calculation only when the disaster has already happened, which is more often than not already too late.

Testing on paper

One of the biggest hindrances when it comes to disaster recovery and backup is that disaster recovery tests are often done on paper, rather than carried out in real life. Performing a DR test on paper gives a sense of security, but while many IT teams believe it effectively simulates reality, in truth it is far from it. The recovery of incomplete backups that were made 24 hours earlier can take hours. Companies will then be dealing with downtime that they cannot afford and could have prevented. Fundamentally, organizations must be able to restore systems and data in an extremely short period of time, and all data needs to be restored as completely as possible, down to the minutes before disruption happens.

The future of back-up

The future of back-up lies with continuous data protection (CDP). CDP means that there is always a passive copy of all recent data through continuous replication. Therefore, in the event of an unforeseen disaster, a business can travel back to any point in time, just before the disaster occurred. The passive copy can also be used for long-term retention, which offers the advantage of eliminating the need for a ‘back-up window’ – if a passive copy of the business’ data is always available, it can therefore backup as often and as frequently as required.

Continuous protection enables companies to be back online within mere minutes after an incident, with minimal data loss. Due to the fact there is always a passive copy of all data, and that a back-up has zero impact on performance, a company can be more flexible and able to handle any of the problems of today. Only with this kind of backup can organizations be more in sync with the modern age.

The author

Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn is Technology Evangelist at Zerto.

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