IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

It goes without saying that backing up data is one of the most important things a business can do, especially considering how data is now essentially the lifeblood of an organization. With this in mind, five IT industry professionals give their advice as to how business continuity professionals can keep up with the ever-evolving world of backup...

The era of ‘always-on’

In today’s business landscape, being ‘always-on’ is an essential. It can be demanding on an organization, especially when the pressure of having the most up-to-date backup technology is ever-present. As Rob Strechay, Senior Vice President of Product at Zerto comments, “From tape, to hard drive and now cloud, which is really tape in many cases, the target and management has changed, yet fundamentally it is still based on periodic snapshots of information. But in an ‘always-on’ business landscape, how can an organization feel protected with an antiquated backup strategy? The answer is it can’t.”

“Data is the primary currency and competitive differentiator, it should all be protected by continuous replication which ensures every change, update or added piece of data is always available,” Strechay continues. “Don’t settle for the status quo of backup, demand more. Demand continuous, with the reassurance that all data is protected up to a moment before anything disrupts it.”

Continually looking to upgrade your backup systems is something that Rod Harrison, VP of Engineering at StorCentric, parent company of Nexsan and Drobo, agrees with. He states, “In order to provide the utmost protection for your data, it is absolutely necessary in today’s corporate world to have the proper backup and data recovery system. Luckily, archive storage solutions are available to help eliminate data loss as well as provide added layers of security from tampering, corruption and ransomware. These archive storage solutions are additionally able to increase the efforts of driving cost and performance benefits by simply allowing for greater long-term retention of data. For a data backup strategy to reach its highest potential, the strategy should include data protection, enhanced security features and peak performance of storage.”

Plan for the future

A well-formulated backup strategy is critical to business continuity, and IT teams are under more pressure to ensure protection for the data of organizations. With this in mind, it’s important that business continuity teams look to the future and plan ahead. As Neil Barton, CTO, WhereScape advises, “Not only should organizations have a backup strategy, it is also extremely important for IT teams to test it regularly. The first time a business tests their backup tactics should not be during an emergency. Data needs to be easily recoverable and accessible when needed, as a data loss can have devastating effects on a company’s reputation.”

It can seem daunting putting a plan in place for what is essentially a disaster, but it can be the make and break when it comes to the real thing. Gregg Mearing, Head of Managed Services at Node4 recommends that when planning backups, business continuity teams need to consider:

  • Operational impact - carefully plan your backup windows to ensure there is no performance degradation for your systems and applications
  • Location - consider whether your backups are going to be stored locally or off-site. You will need to determine what is the best option for your business and take into consideration factors like bandwidth availability and thus the time taken to transmit the backup data, to meet your backup window targets.
  • RPO & RTO - to successfully build your strategy based on your desired RPO & RTO you’ll need to consider multiple factors, including the media you’re writing to, the backup location and the backup window available.

He also comments that it’s worth talking to a managed service provider to see how they could help take this off the IT team’s hands. “Sufficient security, capacity, recovery times and meeting compliance needs are all integral to success when backing up, but can be hard for internal teams to keep on top of,” he believes. “By working with a backup as a service (BaaS) provider businesses can have peace of mind that, whatever is backing up and wherever the data is stored, it is being efficiently managed and is available on request should the worst happen and a backup be required.”

While it’s true that backups should be an essential element of the business continuity strategy, as Robert Grigsby, Product Director – Cloud at Six Degrees Group believes, “the paradigm should be shifted a little away from the negative and towards the positive productivity benefits that an effective backup strategy can bring.”

“Today’s backup technology can protect as much or as little of your data as you need, as often as you need, and store it for as long as you need. And what’s more, you can restore anything from an individual file to an entire server,” he continues. “Think of the opportunities this presents to your organization when it comes to maintaining productivity and momentum. Whether your finance director has accidentally overwritten an important spreadsheet, or your HR manager needs to dig out a file on a former employee, these everyday requests can be facilitated in minutes, not hours or days. Backups aren't just for when the worst happens.”

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Business continuity can be defined as 'the processes, procedures, decisions and activities to ensure that an organization can continue to function through an operational interruption'. Read more about the basics of business continuity here.

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