Investing in data backup strategy requires more than just capital investment. Enterprises must carefully consider the unique specifications of their networks in order to find the most suitable — and most cost-efficient — solution for their business.
In today’s highly-connected era, data loss is more likely than ever to spell disaster for enterprises. 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more during a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year after the incident, and 43% of those companies shut their doors for good. Simply put, a well-designed data backup plan is one of the most important investments a business can make.
But many businesses have difficulty just identifying what they need, never mind figuring out how to implement a solution that meets those needs. What’s more, the increasingly sophisticated and rapidly evolving data management landscape makes knowing where to start an even greater challenge. There are, however, a few general guidelines that businesses can — and should — follow in order to ensure they choose the data backup strategy that best suits their needs.
When developing a data backup plan for your enterprise, begin by considering which of your data demand a higher (or different) degree of protection. Any incident of permanent data loss should be avoided, but some will be more detrimental to your organization than others. Prioritize the protection of your mission-critical data first and foremost — the assets without which your organization cannot function. That means backing up your apps, network configuration, and operating systems too. Just because cloud-based Virtual Machines and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions provide data redundancy doesn’t mean you don’t need to back them up.
Of all the important decisions you’ll make when designing your data backup strategy, none are more fundamental than your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). Recovery Point Objective refers to the maximum allowable amount of data you’re willing to lose in the event of an incident. If losing 8 hour’s worth of data would prove ruinous to your operation, then you’ll want to back up every 4 hours. In other words, RPO determines how often you’ll back up your data. RTO, on the other hand, determines how long it will take to restore your data if (and when) a data loss incident occurs.
The solutions you design will need to meet (or exceed) those requirements. As a general rule, a more comprehensive data plan will help you get back in business faster, but the cost needs to be weighed against your company’s budget and risks. There may be some data that you can afford not to restore immediately, but if you have access to especially sensitive data or may be at particular risk of data loss, you’ll want to ensure those data are backed up often, and can be restored as quickly as possible.
As the volumes and varieties of data continue to skyrocket, data storage solutions have seen in-kind growth in terms of their complexity and diversity. However the majority can typically be sorted into three categories: on-site hardware backups, software solutions, cloud services, and hybrid solutions.
Hardware backups are typically on-site wall-mounted servers that can be easily attached to a network. Unfortunately, if a hardware backup fails, you’ll be out of luck. That’s why most companies that use hardware backups also use another backup system, such as a cloud solution.
Software solutions tend to be less expensive than hardware solutions, and can be easily integrated into your existing network. Software may be a particularly good choice if your network infrastructure changes frequently.
On the other hand, cloud — or Backup as a Service (BaaS) — solutions enable you to back your data up to a vendor’s cloud. Cloud services are typically more affordable and are generally secure, but companies with sensitive data or that are subject to regulations may not be able to store all of their data in the cloud. For these enterprises, hybrid solutions are very popular, as they combine software, hardware, and cloud backup solutions to protect a variety of data.
Some data backup solutions are more expensive than others, however no solution is as costly as permanent data loss. Hardware tends to be the most expensive and takes the longest to install, while cloud-based and software solutions are quicker and more affordable. Implementing a BaaS solution usually means paying on a monthly basis instead of a larger upfront investment.
When determining a budget, weigh the potential loss if your data becomes inaccessible for any amount of time. Every enterprise wants short RPOs and RTOs, but not all will be able to accept the associated costs. You will also need to consider the cost of training employees to use the solution, especially if you’re not using a BaaS provider. But ultimately, you should think about your overall data backup budget in terms of what you stand to lose. Because backup, like insurance, is something that you don’t need until you really need it, some companies are tempted to underspend — don’t be one of them.
Some backup solution vendors may have estimated timeframes for implementation, but it’s still wise to create your own timetable. Consider what you need to do before the vendor can begin to install your data backup solution, such as creating a master backup of existing data, or designating a team to oversee the process. Use your vendor’s timeline as guidance, but build extra time into your own schedule so that a vendor delay won’t throw you off track.
It’s also important to note that the installation may interrupt “business as usual.” In such cases, it may be possible to perform installations during non-working hours, which can help shield clients and customers from inconveniences or delays.
The most effective way to ensure your data is adequately backed up is to partner with an experienced networking and data management expert who can provide a thorough analysis of your network, and recommend solutions for the specific requirements of your business.
A network security audit can help your IT team assess the effectiveness of your current data backup and recovery protocols, and make recommendations as to how these protocols can be streamlined.
Turn-key Technologies (TTI) has decades of experience designing, developing, and implementing data backup strategies and recovery solutions. With 24/7 managed services from TTI, you can rest assured your data is safe and secure at all times.
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