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Can Your Backup Plan Weather A Hurricane?

In disaster preparedness, the importance of staying ready for a hurricane or any other disaster cannot be understated, because you really never know when one may strike. Blaine Raddon, of Acronis, writes that it’s becoming more important than ever for businesses to feel confident that they know where their critical data is backed up and how to recover it to get business running again.

Blaine Raddon is general manager, Americas, for Acronis.


“Here comes the story of the hurricane.” This famous Bob Dylan song lyric opens our tale of a company that was doing quite well for itself. It was profitable, expanding and experiencing increasing demand from customers and prospects alike. All was sunny on the company’s horizon... that is, until, one day, a category-five hurricane struck the town where the company’s headquarters was located. It was at this point, that the company discovered that its backup provisions were inadequate against a devastating loss and the company lost critical finance data, IP, customer records, etc. The company tried to recover, but even after months of struggling to put the pieces back together, it hadn’t regained its former pace.

While obviously a worst case scenario, this story shows the importance of staying prepared for a hurricane or any other disaster, because you really never know when one may strike. And, with this year’s hurricane forecast predicting 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two category-three hurricanes or higher, it’s becoming more important than ever for businesses to feel confident that they know where their critical data is backed up and how to recover it to get business running again.

According to our 2012 Disaster Recovery Index, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, nearly 50 percent of the 600 U.S. companies surveyed still fear substantial downtime in the event of a disaster. With almost 20 major storms anticipated this hurricane season, combined with the fact that businesses worldwide lose approximately $366,363 each year because of unplanned IT downtime, companies need to drastically improve their disaster recovery preparedness or risk losing critical data and suffering revenue-impacting downtime, like the company in our story.

Virtual Machines Need Protecting, Too

When a disaster strikes, having a backup and recovery solution that only protects physical IT environments simply won’t cut it. It’s important to have a backup solution and plan that addresses all types of environments, especially since nearly 80 percent of companies have been found to already have some form of virtualized infrastructure in place.

To achieve successful backup and disaster recovery across virtual environments, however, a common misconception needs to be dispelled when it comes to backing up virtual environments. Virtual machines need protecting, too. While 62 percent of U.S. respondents in the 2012 Disaster Recovery Index believe the migration to a virtualized environment will make it easier to ensure that their backup and disaster recovery operations are efficiently managed, an overwhelming 44 percent still don’t back up their virtual machines as often as their physical ones.

Let there be no mistake: when a hurricane comes knocking, virtual machines can be just as at risk as physical ones. Therefore, having a backup technology solution and disaster recovery plan in place that addresses the needs of both kinds of IT environments is paramount to protecting companies’ critical data.

To the Cloud

Beyond physical and virtual environments, companies are increasingly using cloud computing for their offsite backup and disaster recovery needs. According to a Taneja Group study, 29 percent of respondents are already protecting their data in the cloud and 58 percent plan on moving their data protection to the cloud within just six to 24 months.

It’s true that the cloud presents an effective backup and recovery solution when hurricanes or other natural disasters take out on-premise backups. But, why haven’t more companies started to use the cloud for data backups? According to the 2012 Disaster Recovery Index, data recovery (68 percent) and security risks (45 percent) were the top reasons U.S. companies avoid using the cloud for backup and disaster recovery.

Despite these concerns, the cloud still shows promise for data backup purposes and many agree the cloud is equally as safe, if not more so, than on-premise backups. Indeed, the same index found that 40 percent of U.S. companies believe migrating to a cloud environment would help ensure their backup and recovery procedures run more smoothly. And, what’s more, 53 percent believe the cloud will help lower their overall IT operating costs – a win win!

So, when faced with unpredictable and violent weather capable of demolishing physical assets and limiting access to the corporate office, more companies may start turning to the cloud. The cloud makes it possible for businesses to be back up and running almost instantaneously, providing data access for employees from anywhere – a distinct advantage over on-premise or physical backup solutions.

Mother Nature Bytes

Amidst Mother Nature’s wrath, whether companies are trying to safely backup and recover terabytes, or even petabytes, of data from physical, virtual or cloud environments, the most important thing is to have a plan in place. A detailed backup and disaster recovery plan that is regularly tested and updated as the network evolves is the surest way to ensure your data can weather any storm.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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