Companies run on information. They need data on their customers and products in order to make sound decisions and lead the company on the right path.
Protecting this data is of paramount importance, so companies should put in place sound data backup procedures to ensure any data loss doesn’t cripple or even slow down the business.
A first step before creating a back-up strategy is to create a formal data protection and management plan. Detailed written plans should serve as roadmaps for what kinds of data the company holds, who is responsible for managing the data, and how it should be used.
Responsibilities for data back-up should be outlined, so there’s no chance for people to “pass the buck” or inadvertently expose company data to risk.
A crucial part of the plan is deciding where to back up the data, and how to manage the access/login controls to that data. Here are three options.
1. To the clouds
As the costs of the cloud fall, companies are flocking to cloud environments to serve as data back-ups. Doing a ‘pure cloud’ back-up removes a time-consuming task from the IT department, giving them more time to focus on revenue-generating projects.
Productivity gains can also be realised when IT no longer needs to perform or coordinate nightly backup operations. And companies with budgetary constraints can obtain large amounts of storage space for nominal cost.
The cloud brings several other benefits for companies that need a back-up solution. Physical servers take up space, so smaller offices can free up room for additional staff or equipment by eliminating server rooms.
Equipment failures are also no longer a concern – there’s nothing in the office to break. So the risk of data loss from hard drive failures is eliminated.
A final benefit of cloud services is access to immediate scaling, whether it’s more or less capacity. There’s no need to provision for more on-site storage, you simply work with the provider to increase capacity.
Downsides to the cloud
Using the cloud isn’t bulletproof, and comes with some distinct downsides. One is who is responsible in the case of data loss. In most cases, the provider is not responsible, so the client does not have much recourse if something goes wrong on the provider’s end.
Bandwidth issues can also occur, especially if you are working with large files that need to be restored. You should watch productivity losses that can come when staff are waiting on downloading cloud-based files
Security and regulation concerns are also pertinent. It’s difficult to ensure 100% data security when it is out of your physical control, so there are still some security risks with the public cloud. And, some data sets are governed by regulations such as HIPAA or other personally identifiable information (PII) rules that prevent the use of public clouds.
2. The appeal of hybrid options
Cloud-based storage is cheap, so companies are advised to redundantly back-up their files to more than one cloud service. An option for companies is the “hybrid cloud” which blends an on-premise component that might be virtualised or physical, and a virtual cloud component.
This type of arrangement reduces the bandwidth requirements of a cloud-only approach, and provides more continuity to the business. Applications and data are stored safely offsite, so events such as fire or storms won’t pose a risk. And they enable data to be pulled from any failover location, with these systems running on on-premise hardware.
So depending on the type of problem affecting the company, they can rest assured data can be pulled from either a local machine or virtually from the cloud.
Consider using a mix of public and private clouds. The public cloud is ideal for less sensitive data, and the most important or confidential data can reside within a private cloud inside your own organisation. You can also spread the risk of the public cloud by sending data to several providers, many of whom offer a significant amount of free space.
Another hybrid-style option is to use a physical external hard drive that also automatically syncs data to the cloud, for example the Western Digital line of My Cloud devices.
3. Physical storage
Physically storing your data on-site on hard drives is still a viable backup option for many companies. The stability and security of the information are two core benefits – where you control the storage and ownership of the company’s most sensitive data. For companies that are governed by regulatory rules, this can be a simpler way to avoid some of the risks of internet-connected storage.
With physical storage, the equipment costs are depreciable and the expense of physical storage continues to fall relative to the amount of storage available. Redundancy is also simplified – companies just need to purchase more hard drives and keep them safe and organised.
Security from hacking is not a concern when physical hard drives are disconnected from computers and the internet. These devices can still be lost or stolen, which does expose them to risk.
There are of course several limitations to physical storage. It can’t be accessed remotely, information cannot be shared easily with other partners, and physical equipment itself can be damaged and data lost.
It’s the lack of accessibility that is the big concern, so many firms utilize physical storage as true back-ups, where perhaps copies of their proprietary data are kept but not actually utilized.
For most companies, choosing the right type of back-up option will depend on costs, the type of data being stored, and the industry that it operates within.
Sourced from David Zimmerman, CEO, LC Technology