Are businesses still taking risks with backup?

Although technology is more reliable than ever, failing to back-up important data is still a risk. Backing up, however, takes time. But while for consumers, failing to back-up risks the loss of tax returns and precious holiday snaps, businesses that fail to back-up critical data risk far more damage.

Data loss can impact brand credibility, damage consumer trust, and in some industries, lead to heavy financial penalties from regulators. With so much at stake, it might seem strange that any business would risk damage in the long run to achieve short term cost saving.

Cloud is the obvious choice

A business that is taking this risk might point to the difficulties in managing separate on-site back-up facilities. These can be expensive, time consuming and space-hungry.

However, while companies are enjoying the flexibility and scalability of cloud in many areas of business, Jake Madders, director at Hyve Managed Hosting, believes that not enough businesses are utilising the technology for backup.

>See also: Winter is coming: is your disaster recovery ready?

Madders says that companies no longer have to worry about having the physical space to establish a backup location for data, as using cloud servers and storage enables off-site backups that are protected from many issues that can arise on-premises.

He explains, “Company data is one of the most valuable parts of a business, but unfortunately loss of or damage to data can happen at any time. Investing in backup and replication from the production environment to a secure cloud-computing environment should be a priority for every business. World Backup Day serves as a reminder that if it isn’t backed up, there is a huge opportunity for loss and that can have serious business repercussions.”

The flexibility of the cloud is often favoured by startups and fast growth companies, which need support for rapid growth in data volumes. Chris Plant, VP of EMEA, Atlantis Computing, believes that flexibility is the key to a successful business back-up strategy. He believes companies should look to software-based policies to implement a more robust disaster recovery plan.

He says, “A multiple software-based strategy with software-defined and hyperconverged storage infrastructure is the most effective route for a flexible backup plan. With this tactic, snapshots, replication and stretched clusters can help protect data, whether in a local data centre cluster, across data centres or across the cloud. IT teams rely on these software-based policies as the backbone of their disaster recovery implementations as the human element is removed.”

Plant explains that this is possible as “the software-based strategy dictates that all virtual machines are accurately, automatically and consistently replicated to the DR sites.

Through this automatic and transparent approach, no administrator action is required, saving employees time, money and providing peace of mind that business can carry on despite any outage.”

Managing unstructured data

One of the main difficulties for businesses in managing the huge volume of data is that it is often unstructured. When looking at the growth of unstructured data, the industry is bursting at the seams.

IDC Research predicts there will be a massive 44 zettabytes (or 44 trillion GB) of data by 2020. Cloudian CMO Jon Toor believes that companies faced with managing and storing large volumes of unstructured data will look to object storage as a potential solution.

“We have more than 200 million surveillance cameras around the world generating 18.4 billion gigabytes of storage every two weeks. Organisations around the world are pondering where to keep it, how to keep it and how to quickly access it when they needed it. This is why the object storage industry is about to explode,” says Toor.

>See also: Six data trends for 2017

There are a range of effective back-up technologies businesses can use that will not only minimise the risk of losing important data, but make a disaster recovery plan more effective if data loss does occur.

Geoff Barrall, COO at Nexsan, believes there are several key areas business should be focusing on. He says, “Data is one of the most valuable business assets and when it comes to data protection chief among its IT challenges is the ever-growing rate of data and the associated vulnerability. Backup needs to be reliable, fast and cost efficient. Organisations are on the defensive after a disaster and being able to recover critical data within minutes is crucial.”

Barrall explains that by using a secure archiving platform, companies can create a more comprehensive recovery plan. “Breakthroughs in disk technologies and pricing have led to very dense arrays that are power, cost and performance efficient. Backup has been revolutionised and organisations need to ensure they are safeguarding their most valuable commodity – not just now but for the long term. Secure archive platforms are complementary and create a complete recovery strategy.”

Back up beyond data

But is World Back Up Day all about the data? While data loss is can be damaging to a business, losing access to the network itself can have a severe impact. Gartner cites the average cost of IT downtime is $300k for every hour the network is down, while Avaya estimates the cost can be up to $540K per hour. Hubert Da Costa, VP EMEA at enterprise WAN specialist Cradlepoint, says that despite this risk, a back-up plan for the network is often given less thought.

>See also: IT disaster recovery: flooding lessons learned

Da Costa explains, “No wired connection can deliver 100% uptime. The question is not whether your business will lose Internet connectivity, but when. So how do you protect your organisation from loss and disruption when it happens? When your wired Internet connectivity experiences a service disruption (in some areas this happens several times a month) your business is exposed to risks of lost revenue, productivity and customer experience issues.”

A 4G LTE failover network, according to Da Costa, is the most cost-effective way for businesses to back-up their primary network. He says, “Upgrading to a more robust wired connection is one possible solution – but it’s expensive and is still susceptible to outages and service disruption. An alternative option is to bridge the inevitable gap with wireless WAN failover. This option is quick and easy to deploy.”

There will always be a risk failed connections, network downtime and data loss, but planning for these risks and implementing robust solutions in advance can minimise potential damage. While investment now must be balanced against future risk, in Da Costa’s experience, “there are few businesses that can afford to take that risk.”

Avatar photo

Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...