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Backup technology has evolved over the years, but the time has come to take a completely fresh approach, says Avi Raichel. In this article Avi explains: Why backup is a CTO concern; What CTOs need to do to update the backup strategies in place; How CTOs can help the business become IT resilient.

It’s no secret that backup is one of the most important things that a business can invest in, and it’s because of this that the evolution of backup has been such a grand one. The very first computer backups were made on to large reels of magnetic tape (punch cards), and have consistently evolved – from tape, to spinning disk, and then on to flash. However, what hasn’t changed with backup is the central idea of creating ‘golden copies’ of data, to be used ‘just in case’.

This idea is now, arguably, archaic. These traditional backups that only provide a snapshot in time are no longer compatible with the modern times. In this age, businesses, particularly digital ones, need to be ‘always-on’ – 24/7, 365 days a year. Because of this, the requirement for recovery point objectives (RPOs) of seconds, and recovery time objectives (RTOs) of minutes is essential.

Essentially, a business needs to be able to recover as quickly as possible from the second it went down – not from a backup made the night before. This dependence on periodic backups, rather than continuous data protection, may be why nearly half of businesses have suffered an unrecoverable data event over the last three years according to the latest IDC State of IT Resilience report (1).

Backup should be a CTO concern

It may not seem like backup should be the CTO’s concern, but when the technology solutions and services that are sold to customers are the ones that are affected by data loss and disruption, that’s when the CTO should take notice. Disruption and data loss can cause a considerable amount of impacts to a business, however the two most significant – specifically in the eyes of a C-suite executive – are the direct costs and reputational damage.

This signifies that there is a real need for a new strategy of both backup and general IT resilience, when it comes to customer-facing IT solutions. Ideally, this should minimise downtime, data loss and disruption to keep services online, and customers happy.

After all, according to the above report, out of the organizations in the past two years that suffered a technology-related disruption, 42 percent had to hire in external consultants to help recover, and 37 percent could trace a direct loss in revenue to the disruption. Having to explain to customers why valuable data has been misplaced, or why the business is down is something that no CTO wants to do.

Additionally, with 20 percent of organizations that experienced an outage permanently losing customers as a result, and another 19 percent suffering direct damage to the company reputation, this is bad news for the CTO. Especially given how easy it is these days for a customer to compare companies online, and move elsewhere. Essentially, CTOs need to guarantee that the IT solutions customers rely on perform reliably, efficiently, and without losing data due to an inadequate backup strategy. Doing this ensured that the CTO is representing the business’ best interests and conserving the sales team’ customer relationships.

The modern day backup strategy

It’s important that CTOs look at building a strategy that accounts for both the risk and severity of these kinds of disruptions – however, this type of strategy needs to go beyond mere static backup. It needs to take into account how data can be protected and maintained continuously throughout its lifecycle in order to prevent data loss and disruption. Essentially, a modern backup strategy does three things:

  1. It makes it easy to restore in seconds when something does happen to go wrong;
  2. It protects data up to the last second across all different systems and environments;
  3. It makes backup become a key part of the design of new services.

The first step is to look into backup tools that work down to the latest second before a disruption, though a full backup and resilience strategy should go far beyond this.

However, with the State of IT Resilience report showing that almost all (94 percent) of surveyed organizations planning to spend more on resilience infrastructure in the future, it seems that many CTOs are already tackling the problem. But while it is a positive start that so many are recognising the need to invest, the challenge will be in making sure the investment is made in the best long-term solutions. This includes the right technology, processes and training to make sure that the resilience strategy is effective. 

Why backup strategies need a human influence

Additionally, CTOs should be looking beyond the IT solutions themselves, and at the organizational structures around technology and service delivery. Backup is part of a wider environment of technologies that enable IT resilience for service. This includes cloud migration, cyber security, data availability, disaster recovery and more.

For a backup to be an ultimate success, collaboration and communication between the different teams is essential in order to make sure the correct data is backed up from the correct environment, at the right frequency for different customer needs. The CIO and CTO should be collaborating in order to guarantee that both internal and external IT systems are designed to combine these elements, and overall deliver a more resilient infrastructure.

So, in order to deliver on customer expectations of reliable services, CTOs need to include a broad IT resilience approach into their backup strategies to help progress the business agenda. A modern backup strategy should see backup as a key part of the data infrastructure of new services – kept up to date to the latest second, across all sorts of systems and environments, and easy to restore from in seconds should something go wrong. Only then will organizations be able to win customer trust in reliable service delivery, without any tech-related disruptions.

The author

Avi Raichel is CIO at Zerto.



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