Tips for Near-Instant Business Continuity in Data-Loss Events
The foremost concern of any business in the event of a disaster is how quickly their critical applications can be restored to resume Business Continuity (BC). Data loss events like hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, and tornados – although rare – are a fact of life and require meticulous BC planning. These events destroy buildings, annihilate infrastructure, and devastate entire regions rendering businesses inoperative for extended periods.
The foremost concern of any business in the event of a disaster is how quickly its critical applications can be restored to resume business continuity (BC). Data loss events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires and tornados—although rare—are a fact of life and require meticulous BC planning. These events destroy buildings, annihilate infrastructure and devastate entire regions, rendering businesses inoperative for extended periods.
Enterprises constantly are searching for rapid recovery from data loss events, to resume business operations as quickly as possible, because their survival is dependent on rapid BC. Failure to do so can result in productivity loss, lost customers, lost revenue and poor customer satisfaction/sales/reputation/stock price.
A critical disaster recovery (DR) planning criterion is the stipulation of the order and time required to recover each application within the DR plan. These recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) must be stated clearly in the DR and BC plan, which is the corporate mantra of post-disaster business resumption. The DR and BC plan must factor in hardware procurement times, the alternate data center site for BC, the resources needed for BC and the time it would take to render the recovered data usable.
Cloud backup was designed initially for safe and efficient storage and archiving of operational and compliance data. Therefore, data backed up offsite to the cloud or the DR site is deduplicated, compressed and oftentimes encrypted. It is then stored in the data vault, in that format, to maximize storage efficiencies. In the event of a disaster, this data needs to be recovered and retrieved and groomed to resume BC. Depending of the size of the data, it could take several days to restore this data to its usable form. Hence, data restore and data recovery to resume BC are related but disparate concepts. Cloud data backup and restore does not warrant immediate application availability required for BC.
Although natural disasters account for most of the headlines, they comprise of a small percentage of IT downtime. Accidents, sabotage and technical failures cause majority of IT outages. Plus, most data-loss events and outages are due to single hard disk drive, machine or server failure.
To recover quickly from these data-loss events, enterprises should store a local copy of their data, in addition to sending a copy offsite, for LAN-speed as well as cloud-powered instant recovery.
In reality, the hardware procurement times in the event of a disaster can be upwards of three months. The DR plan must stipulate the means of accessing restored applications.
It is important to point out that there is no instant recovery available from service providers including Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. I have witnessed customer frustration more than a few times when the response from the managed service provider (MSP) during an outage is slower than customer expectation because the service provider has to abide by its standard workflows. These response times, however, conform to the service level agreements (SLAs) in place. The multi-tenant nature of the collocation renders slower tracking and reacting during an outage from the collocation provider.
Therefore, scrupulous DR/BC planning can be the key to staying in business and maintaining competitive advantage. Finally, cloud-powered virtual BC can enable near-instantaneous resumption of business operations quickly, using an Internet connection, to resume business operations following a data-loss event and should be a key pillar of every organizational data protection strategy.
Ashar Baig is president, principal analyst and consultant at Analyst Connection, an analyst firm focused on cloud computing, IT products and services and managed service providers. He has more than 18 years of high-tech industry experience. Baig also is founder and manager of the LinkedIn Cloud Backup group.