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Data is the lifeblood of every business. The inability to access that data could result in damage that takes some organizations years to repair. In some cases, that lack of access may very well spell the end of the road.
Your future is only as promising as your business continuity plan, and your backup strategy is an integral cog in the machine. With that in mind, we have outlined a handful of fundamental strategies that will help make your business resilient in the face of any disaster.

  1. Protect Data at Every Level

Enterprise applications such as MySQL, Exchange Server, and Hyper-V function as their independent systems. They come complete with their user roles, access policies, and security features. They’re also responsible for generating and managing data that is probably as important as the data you protect on your operating system. Whether it’s handled with a native tool baked into the system or an all-in-one solution, that data should be included in your backup plan. Complete system protection must cover file data, configuration data, application data and beyond.

  1. Backup Your Backups

Most IT professionals are well aware of the 3-2-1 Rule. It’s a data protection principle that preaches a more reliable way to backup sensitive information. Here’s how it breaks down:

Whether it’s the result of a deteriorated DVD or broken flash drive, backups fail on a regular basis. A second copy provides some added assurance, but a third gives you peace of mind that comes from knowing your data can be recovered even if two backups happen to fail.

  1. Store Backups in Multiple Locations

The 1 component of the 3-2-1 rule stresses the importance of keeping your backups in different places.  Creating backups of your blog might protect you from attacks on the web server, but what happens when your local server is hit with malware or hardware failure? If that server houses all of your backups, having three copies won’t do you any good. Keeping one copy on your local NAS appliance, another at your backup site, and a third in the cloud is an example of how you can make sure your data is always available.

  1. Set Logical Recovery Goals

You want to rebound from a disaster as soon as possible. Instead of winging it and hoping for the best, map out that road to recovery by setting specific recovery goals. Recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) are essential to business continuity planning. While the names suggest a degree of commonality, they are two entirely different parameters that play an equally important role in devising a backup plan that best suits your business requirements.

RPO refers to the maximum period of time in which data is lost during a disruption. The best way to sum it up is an estimation of how much data you can afford to lose amid a disaster. This parameter is vital when it comes to determining how often you need to backup your data. If you set your RPO at eight hours, that means you have decided that you can lose eight hours worth of work and whatever data produce within that interval. To meet that objective, you would need to perform a backup at least once every eight hours. Anything less could hinder your ability to recover that data.

RTO refers to the target time designated to recover from an incident. In order words, it defines how long an organization can afford to be inoperable before a business is negatively affected. Let’s say you set your RTO at three hours. That means you essentially have three hours to get your servers, networking equipment, or telecommunications back up and running. It’s a pretty small window, so you would need to invest a lot of time and resources into disaster preparation to make sure that objective is achieved.

Whereas RPO is focused on backup frequency, RTO sets the tone for business continuity as a whole. Used correctly, both can provide a much-needed degree of measured guidance when responding to a disaster.

  1. Make Data Security a Priority

The same aspects that help increase business efficiency and agility have made us more vulnerable than ever. From cloud apps to mobile devices and everything in between, each piece of technology we implement is yet another attack vector for the bad guys to lock on. Data is always under fire. Organizations must make a concentrated effort to develop a business continuity strategy that protects against sophisticated outside attacks as well as the ever-looming threat of human error from within. A business continuity plan is not complete without a strong focus on data security.

Conclusion

Losing even the smallest amount of data can have game-changing ramifications for your business. To protect it, you need to be prepared for every possible disaster scenario. Although it’s merely one piece of the business continuity puzzle, an effective backup plan can make sure you retain as much of that data as possible.

View Comments

  • Thanks, Casey. This was a really interesting take on the NSA's new local data center. Despite the privacy concerns, I'm excited to see what this means for the state. Silicon Slopes is definitely filling up with some great names!

  • Rather than placing it somewhere that looks nice or aesthetically pleasing, make sure that it is located at a place that allows proper circulation of air.

  • Casey, congratulations on this blog post -- I could not agree more. I am the editor of the Varnex Insider magazine, and would like to talk with you about the possibility of publishing this blog in our next issue (with full credit to you and StorageCraft, of course). Please email me at the address I provided so we can talk about this. Thanks very much. -- John

  • Great post, thanks Casey Morgan for writing such an informative post. Every body knows the importance of backup but no one takes care of it. Thanks fro reminding and guiding for backups.

  • Hi there! I'm a little late responding to this post (business can get in the way of marketing, even when your business IS marketing ;-), but I wanted to jump in and mention that Thomma IS a real person. She was our company's content manager for a couple of years until she decided to devote all of her energies to her real love: fiction writing. She's a wonderful writer and researcher who did fantastic content work for our clients. You can find out more about her on her website: http://www.thommalyngrindstaff.com/.

    Hope that clears it up! Thanks for the link to our content!

    Kind regards,
    Marjorie R. Asturias
    President
    Blue Volcano Media

  • I've been using VMware since the late 1990's. VMware has the monolithic hypervisor in it's server class products (as you described), plus an approach similar to Microsoft's in it's workstation class product known as VMware Workstation. I've been using VMware Workstation installed on top of Microsoft Server OSs for several reasons. All my production-level servers are running as Guests on such a platform. Cost savings include availability of commodity priced utilities for backup, anti-malware and such...

    In my experience, since 1981 in the software and server-room domains, Microsoft's periodic and frequent changes to its entire architecture has forced me to re-install, re-code, re-invest time and money, just to stay current and operational. I'll stick with VMware for my virtualization platforms, as it has required less maintenance, cost and re-work.

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