Most businesses these days have some form of backup protecting their company’s livelihood as they understand the importance of their data and the ability to recover it. But because this is basically “insurance” against downtime for a business, how do you determine what is the best solution for you? There are 3 main solutions: backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. We’ll explore each so you can make an informed decision on whether your current backup is enough, or you could better prepare your business for minimal downtime.
Before we look at these solutions, let’s review how to assess what level of protection best fits your business requirements. There are two key items you need to identify. The first, Recovery Point Objective (RPO), represents how much data one is willing to lose if their production machine(s) were to fail. The second and more important metric is Recovery Time Objective (RTO), this is looking at how fast you can recover your systems and get data back into your company’s production. Depending on the type of business you are in will determine what that desired RTO should be. For example, a manufacturer can’t afford to have much downtime because each hour their systems are down, they are losing production time and money. So now that we understand what you need to assess for your own recovery, let’s review the different options.
Traditional Data Backup
Typically, this is the traditional form and most basic way of backing up your company data. Most of the time you will find start-ups or small businesses using this kind of solution as it is an inexpensive option. This is a file-based backup, it copies the files and data that exists on your computer or server with native Windows backup software or third-party software and saves it either to an external hard drive or a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. There are also Cloud services that will back up the data straight from your system to their datacenter for added protection in case of a complete disaster. You can easily achieve a good RPO since you can schedule the backups to run up to every hour with traditional backup. But if your system were to fail, you can expect for the recovery to take more time than the other solutions we’ll cover. Recovering an entire server with this type of backup can take days, or even longer. The reason is you are only backing up the files, not the entire server, apps, and operating system which contains all the configurations. A good rule of thumb is to assume it will take as long to recover the server as it did to initially build your server.
Companies that choose a Disaster Recovery solution (DR) tend to require faster recovery times and not only protection of their data from system failures, but all types of disaster scenarios. That includes local disasters, think of a fire in the office, to regional disasters, like an earthquake that are bigger in scale. You will find that organizations with multiple servers and line of business apps or database applications invest in this option to keep their business running. Typically, this solution employs an image-based backup. What
does that mean? Besides copying the file data like we explained above, it copies the entire operating system. It takes an image of the system state including the applications, configurations, policies and settings of that machine. This level of backup will include both onsite and Cloud backup as part of the overall solution. Because this is an image-based backup you can easily restore the system either on the local backup server or perform what is called a bare metal restore to new hardware. What you gain with this solution is much faster recovery times than traditional file-based backup since you can restore the entire server vs spending time first setting up new server, operating system, and then having to migrate the file data back. Depending on the complexity of the company’s servers, with a DR solution you can recover within minutes to hours, saving you from potentially crippling downtime.
One of the best options in the backup industry is a Business Continuity solution. Having this type of backup process gives you the best RTO you can have for a company. Enterprise class solutions can achieve RTO’s of under 60 seconds to bring recovery to their system if required. The main difference between Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity is that you have a specifically built device with integrated storage which provides onsite and offsite (Cloud) virtual failover. Imagine having two physical servers running in your office and someone accidentally set off the sprinklers in your office hosing those machines. But luckily your Business Continuity device was not affected. With this solution you could easily run both servers in a virtual environment on that device and get your business back online in no time. The same concept can translate to a larger disaster where say the entire building was demolished. You can failover to the offsite datacenter and work remotely until your primary office is operational again. Usually to manage this backup process you need to have an internal IT admin or work with a managed services provider who can design the solution and ensure you can easily recover.
A variant of this solution worth mentioning is Cloud Computing. Businesses that choose to move all their servers to the “Cloud” (datacenters) can benefit from built in business continuity. If they have internet access, they can work from any location and their physical office and locations are not reliant on the servers they once had in their office. The built in DR and business continuity alone can be a big factor of why some businesses decide to move their servers to the Cloud.
Each business must determine what data recovery solution fits best for them and what they are willing to invest for this protection. We’ve outlined how to gauge what solution you may need based on the desired RPO and RTO goals you set. Data loss or the inability to recover your systems can hugely impact the financial health of a company. It’s important to outline your own data recovery plan or have an IT services provider help assist your business so when a situation occurs you have the right recovery in place, and you minimize the potential risk or harm to your business.
About Zeta Sky
Zeta Sky offers a full range of business IT services and consulting. Our main expertise is in moving parts or all of your business IT needs to the Cloud.
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