What is backup and disaster recovery?
At some point, all computer hardware fails. It’s a fact of life. Truthfully, the best failsafe would be if the people running the organization had a crystal ball. But, unfortunately, there’s no way to predict the future. Hard drives malfunction unpredictably, cyber-attacks are on the rise, and natural disasters may strike with little to no warning.
Whether from time, malicious intent or accident, losing access to critical data is inevitable. When technology fails, it can cripple an organization, interrupt forward momentum toward goals and destroy profits in a second.
Fortunately, those times are exactly what backup and disaster recovery are for. An effective business continuity plan and backup & disaster recovery (BDR) solution are essential operational components in today’s modern world.
In an emergency, disaster recovery must happen quickly to minimize downtime when the unforeseeable happens. Thankfully, backup and disaster recovery solutions have come a long way, and as a managed service provider, we can help you safeguard your business. Long gone are the days of stacks of tapes, days of time and manual recovery methods.
Today’s BDR solutions provide secure, fast, monitored, continuous backup and rapid data restoration through premise and cloud-based architectures. Let’s look at the role each tool plays in protecting your critical processes.
Key Terms You (and your Provider) Should Know
It’s important to note that data backup and disaster recovery are not the same, but both are necessary for long-term business continuity. The main difference between the two is that a backup is a basically a copy made in order to be ready to restore data after a catastrophe, breach, or another adverse impact event has occurred. On the other hand, data recovery is the act of restoring lost or damaged data to its original, pre-event state.
What backup and disaster recovery is, by definition, is a combination of data solutions that work cohesively to ensure a company’s business continuity. There are many components and metrics to consider when discussing BDR with your provider. Here is a glossary of terms that Cynergy Technology can help you fully understand and execute:
is the process of making multiple copies of the data your organization collects or produces, verifying the accuracy of those copies and storing them securely. Your organization will require backup and disaster recovery services that can support your company’s data protection policies and business service levels.
The timeframe within which backups are scheduled to run on a given system. These are often planned during times of minimal usage (i.e., after hours).
Recovery time service level agreement (SLA)
A benchmark indicating how quickly data must be recovered to ensure business continuity following a disaster or unplanned downtime.
The area of security planning that deals with protecting an organization from the effects of significant adverse events. Significant negative events, in this context, can include anything that puts an organization’s operations at risk. Examples include cyber-attacks, equipment failures, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
Premise disaster recovery
A component of a disaster recovery plan that involves maintaining copies of enterprise data in an on-location storage environment as a primary security measure. Premise disaster recovery should always be coupled with Cloud disaster recovery to fully safeguard organizational resources.
Cloud disaster recovery
A component of a disaster recovery plan that involves maintaining copies of enterprise data in a cloud storage environment as an additional security measure. In some cases, cloud recovery is used as the primary security measure.
Encompasses a loosely defined set of planning, preparatory, and related activities intended to ensure that an organization’s critical business functions will either continue to operate – or be recovered — despite serious incidents or disasters that might otherwise have interrupted them.
Types of Backup
As a managed services provider, we are tasked with serving the data needs of a wide variety of SMBs and public/private sector organizations. No two businesses are alike in their size, network needs, or the way they use their data.
Fortunately, we have a variety of backup and disaster recovery methods at our disposal. We use a combination of the types of backup methods listed below, based on your specific business requirements:
A method where all the files and folders selected (or even an entire machine) will be backed up in their entirety. It’s commonly used as a first backup and is then followed up with subsequent incremental or differential backups.
When we perform a full backup, it contains a complete backup of all selected data. When the next backup is scheduled to run, the entire list of files and folders will be copied again (regardless of whether any changes have been made). This simplifies the restore process, as the complete dataset lives in each backup task. However, this method consumes the most storage space and can cause backups to take quite a bit of time to complete.
A process that begins with one full backup and then subsequently backs up all changes that have been made since the previous full backup. This allows for much faster backups (but slower restores) and makes more efficient use of storage capacity.
Any backup where the storage medium is kept on-site. Typically, storage is plugged in directly to the source computer being backed up or connected to the source through a local area network (LAN). This is what backup and disaster recovery is in its most basic form. The challenge, however, is this method contains several inherent disaster-related risks as there is no off-site redundancy or cloud component.
Cloud or remote backup
A type of off-site backup that allows users to access, restore, or administer backups at the source location or off-site. Data here is backed up in the cloud (either directly or via a local appliance). This type of backup provides some of the strongest available protection against natural disasters and unplanned downtime.
Hybrid backup combines both cloud and local backup, where the local backup is typically a purpose-built backup appliance couples with an offsite, cloud-based copy of the data on a same or similar schedule. Hybrid cloud data recovery backs up each production server as a virtual machine image, either by copying the current VM or converting physical servers to VM images (a process referred to as physical to virtual, or P2V) as part of the backup process.
The local appliance stores these images just like it does regular file backups but also provides a platform on which they can be restarted if the primary server goes down. In this way, a single appliance can act as a local standby server for multiple primary servers and VMs.
The failover isn’t totally automatic, but we can provide what’s essentially high availability (HA) to the production server environments as part of their backup infrastructure. The final step is to move these VM images to the cloud provider’s data center, which has enough compute resources to restart any of them in the event of a disaster at the client’s site.
Why do businesses need BDR?
- Backup software can fail
There are numerous examples where an unjustified faith in data backup disaster and recovery software left an organization hanging after a disruption. Take the case of a civil district court in New Orleans. What seemed like a routine recovery of the county’s conveyance and mortgage records database after a server crash turned into a bigger headache than a Mardi Gras night in the French Quarter. Without conducting a full restoration test, the installation of an upgraded version of backup software actually failed and went undiscovered, despite an indication that the upgrade had been successful. For nearly a year, new records that were thought to be backed up were not, all while old copies were purged every 30 days. Once discovered, it was too late to recover the files once staff realized they weren’t backed up.
- You have to backup with recovery in mind
Steven Covey states it best in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Begin with the end in mind.” The same goes for data backup and disaster recovery. You have to back up your data as if you will need to get it back one day.
Here’s an example of why this is so critical.
- Data backup is only the first chapter
Having a secure copy of your data backed up at an off-site location is only chapter one of what backup and disaster recovery is. Chapter two is having the right recovery systems connected to your data, meaning you need to have the right servers, storage, hypervisors, and operating systems for your recovery environment.
Your recovery environment needs to reflect your production environment. This is not an easy step as there are many daily changes in a production environment that IT staff are frequently too busy to capture.
Supposing you do have the right recovery environment, chapter three then becomes having the right people, processes, and tools needed to recover when you need them. We see this problem all the time: the database person is not available, the Windows guy was not willing to travel, the operating system patches were outdated or based on the older operating system, etc. Your backup and DR provider needs to be on the same page about having the right recovery mindset, which means:
a) Backing up data according to your recovery strategy;
b) Connecting the right recovery systems to the properly backed-up data; and
c) Creating a programmatic approach to recovery by arming you with the right people, processes, and tools and making sure they’re all available at the right time.
Keeping You Prepared
Now that you’ve seen how important disaster and recovery is to your organization and what our tools are capable of doing on your behalf, we hope you better understand why we are so passionate about securing your data resources. As an MSP, it’s our job to maintain your peace of mind and make sure your data worries are a thing of the past.