One thing that’s certain in the world of computing – systems will fail. Computers and storage devices are mechanical and electronic machines. Components will wear out, electronics will cease to work properly, and software glitches will shut down applications or operating systems.
Cybercriminals or disgruntled employees may also intentionally make attempts to disrupt or damage business-critical data or components.
So the question is – when the inevitable happens, will you be ready? You may have redundant servers or storage devices, backup power supplies on instant standby, and everything that gives you a level of comfort that you can withstand anything a failure or natural disaster can throw at you.
But what about applications and data? Do you have a comprehensive backup and recovery plan?
What is a Backup Plan, and Why Do You Need One?
Have you ever misplaced a file or flash drive, or perhaps deleted a file that you found you needed later? If only you had created a copy of that information, so that you could recover the files that were lost.
The same issues are true for enterprise data. Applications and data are the lifeblood of business. There are many types of data that require special consideration for retention and security:
- Medical records that must be retained and secure for patient privacy and HIPAA compliance
- Financial records that are needed for tax purposes and stockholder reporting
- HR and payroll information for employees
- Contracts, customer information, and purchase orders
Data backup and the ability to recover files is essential for business continuity. It may mean the difference between “business as usual” and business failure. In fact, Inc. magazine reported that 60% of small and midsize businesses that are victims of cybercrime go out of business within 6 months.
Have a Backup Strategy
Regardless of whether your data resides on a central server, in an enterprise data center, or in the cloud, your backup strategy and ability to recover damaged or deleted files is critical to keeping your employees working, cash flowing, and the doors open to your customers.
For most businesses, a comprehensive backup plan includes:
Regular backup of servers and static files such as application programs, web pages, and documents – typically weekly or even monthly, depending on volatility of these files.
Incremental backups of this same data – backing up any items that have changed. This would be done daily, enabling technicians to totally recover these objects by recovering the regular backup, then applying the incremental backups to recover files in their entirety.
Database backup and recovery is even more critical, since the data is extremely volatile, making timing of backup processes critical to swift recovery for business restoration.
Another Approach to Backup and Recovery
It’s not uncommon today for cloud environments to implement continuous backup processing through data replication on multiple servers – perhaps even duplicating critical data in a second location that may be across the country, or even in another country.
This type of backup can provide data redundancy and nearly immediate failover in the event of system failures.
How Does Backup and Recovery Work?
Traditional backup processing has involved copying production data and applications from servers and mainframe computers to offline auxiliary storage media, such as magnetic tape. While that process is still very much in practice today, alternatives are becoming more available and cost-effective:
- Copying essential data to cloud storage for offsite retention
- Backup of servers to offsite storage arrays at another location
Such alternatives of course rely on high-speed network availability and capacity.
Who Provides Backup and Recovery Services?
Depending on your infrastructure, there are multiple vendors for backup and recovery products – data center services and cloud-based providers focused more on small to midsize companies.
Data Center Backup and Recovery
Gartner Group identifies several leaders in the large enterprise market:
- Dell EMC
- Veritas Technologies
Each company offers backup management services, software, and consulting to help customers develop and manage a comprehensive plan for backup and recovery.
Cloud Backup and Recovery
Most businesses with digital assets in the cloud can benefit from backup services provided by the vendor. A few leaders in this category include:
- Microsoft’s Azure Cloud
- Amazon Web Services S3
Most of these vendors also provide full cloud computing services, as well as backup and recovery offerings. Many also include customer-configurable backup processing, enabling subscribers to tailor backup processing to their specific needs.
Getting Started with a Cloud Backup and Recovery Plan
When considering development of your backup plan, there are several considerations besides technology and pricing that are critical to your due diligence in vendor selection:
- Will your data be encrypted in transition to the cloud, and when it’s stored there?
- Is the vendor certified for security compliance? This is essential for public companies or those who retain confidential information or data subject to regulatory requirements.
- Is data deduplication part of their process (avoids multiple instances of the same data, reducing storage requirements – and cost)
- Are there extra charges incurred for extracting data for specific purposes (such as extracts of archived financial data for audit reviews)?
Moving forward with a detailed plan for backup and recovery will provide peace of mind and assurance of business continuity.