George Bedocs is the vice president of infrastructure engineering for Datto.
Every enterprise IT team carries some version of “The Worst Case Scenario Handbook” in its collective psyche. In the data center, that mental handbook includes envisioning what might happen if a storm takes out your power or – worse – an employee makes a serious error that yields Mother Nature-level repercussions.
Without adequate backup, downtime can translate into tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or more per incident. But, as we all know, traditional backup is not the same as true business continuity.
When seeking business continuity, sometimes the best resource is a knowledgeable channel partner with a long resume of handling backup solutions for its partners. Channel partners can draw on this experience to help businesses move past traditional backup methods and toward modern data protection solutions.
Traditional Backup Versus Business Continuity
There are a few different strategies enterprises employ to back up their data. The first, unfortunately, is to take the data center copy of “The Worst Case Scenario Handbook” and hide it behind the bookshelf. Maybe the team decides the enterprise is in a “safe zone,” far from hurricane, tornado or earthquake-prone regions. The unpredictability of natural disasters aside, the "it-won’t-happen-to-us" approach ignores the fact that network outages, human error and equipment failures are far more likely to cause downtime than any other factors.
The second backup strategy is better, but not by much. It relies on a traditional approach that goes back more than 40 years. And yes, can you believe we’re still talking about tape backup? These businesses save their data to tape and ship it to remote locations from which they can retrieve it when disaster occurs. With legacy backup technologies such as tape, downtime can stretch into days or even weeks. Further, traditional approaches rely on manual processes, which increase the risk of human error, and they’re difficult to test to ensure reliability.
Enterprises that bring in channel partners to help them move beyond the above limitations quickly learn that business continuity, not just backup, should have been the focus from the start. In terms of recovery time, avoiding human error, verifying systems, achieving faster backup times, improving security, complying with regulations and more, smarter business continuity solutions are far better equipped to not only back up the data, but make sure it is accessible and always up to date.
The Cost of Backup-Only Plans
Downtime is expensive, both in terms of productivity and data loss. The details depend on the size of your company, but in general, a mid-size company loses $215,638 per hour of downtime, while an enterprise loses $686,250 per hour, according to the Aberdeen Group. That price goes up quickly when businesses are ill-equipped to retrieve their data after a disaster and return to business as usual. The span of time between a typical data loss incident and resumption of normal business operations is seven hours, according to IDC research, but the firm says 18 percent of IT managers report it takes them much longer to get back to business – between 11 and 24 hours, or even more.
Data backup is important, but it doesn’t ensure business continuity, which is essential to keeping costs down after a disaster. A channel partner can help you determine what lost data would actually cost you, and then set the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) targets that are within your company’s acceptable threshold for downtime.
Hybrid, Image-Based Backup Keeps Business Running
Hybrid, image-based backup is at the core of successful business continuity solutions today. A hybrid solution combines the quick restoration benefits of local backup with the off-site, economic advantages of a cloud resource. Data is first copied and stored on a local device, so that enterprises can do fast and easy restores from that device. At the same time, the data is replicated in the cloud, creating off-site copies that don’t have to be moved physically.
Channel partners are also helping enterprises make a critical shift from file-based backup to image-based. With file-based backup, the IT team chooses which files to back up, and only those files are saved. If the team overlooks an essential file and a disaster occurs, that file is gone. With image-based backup, the enterprise can capture an image of the data in its environment. You can get exact replications of what is stored on a server — including the operating system, configurations and settings, and preferences. Make sure to look for a solution that automatically saves each image-based backup as a virtual machine disk (VMDK), both in the local device and the cloud. This will ensure a faster virtualization process. If a server goes down, the team can restore it in seconds or minutes, rather than spending hours or days to requisition a new server, and install and configure the operating system.
This is the difference between traditional backup and business continuity. In the event of the worst case scenarios, which happen far more often than most enterprises would like to imagine, the ability to keep your business running has immeasurable value.
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