Testing Your Data Recovery Plan

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Whether it is human error, a weather event or a technical issue, a disaster is likely within the lifetime of your systems and data. Being prepared for disaster recovery is important to ensure your data and operations are protected and that downtime is minimal.  Backup and recovery is not just about having a plan on paper or a phone tree of contacts or a script for customers.  Preparedness comes from frequent testing of your backup and recovery solutions.

How often should tests be conducted? The answer to this question depends on your industry, regulations, compliance standards and the nature of your data and processes.  Think through these factors and plug in business leaders to determine the appropriate testing plan.

Quality is important. Each backup and recovery test should be treated as the real thing. Formal recovery procedures should be followed and proper documentation should be part of each test.  Be sure to review your testing plan against industry best practices or work with a trusted business partner to develop a solid test plan. After each test, a review should be conducted on the results of the test and what worked well and what did not.

Understand the environment. As part of your backup and recovery plan think through which business or IT situations put company data at risk for a disaster.  This will allow your team to conduct more real-life testing scenarios.  This exercise can also help you better understand periods in the year when risk may be at its greatest and the types of business functions, IT processes and customer interactions that open data up to risk.

Practice makes perfect. One of the biggest benefits of frequent testing is that your team gains a level of experience and confidence with your backup and recovery plan. By practicing they can react more quickly in an actual disaster event.

Backup and recovery planning is an ever-evolving function of the business. As your business changes so does your data backup and recovery needs. Make this critical function a key part of your team’s agenda.

Protecting Your Data – Cloud SAFE Backup

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Data protection has become a core part of IT, but as a small or mid-sized company you may not have the in-house expertise (or the budget!) to stay on top of the latest and greatest.   Also as our computing environments become more and more complicated, data begins to fragment, and it can easily become unclear which data is backed up and recoverable and which is not.

Here are some facts and figures we shared during a recent Cloud SAFE Backup webinar on the importance of having a solid data protection plan:

  • 60% of businesses do not have a fully documented or tested data recovery plan
  • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster
  • 23% of companies have never tested a disaster recovery plan
  • 40% do not believe the data recovery plan they have is adequate for business needs or regulations

And finally, $50,000 to $5 million is the range in dollar losses experienced by companies due to a data loss incident.  The numbers are telling but there is a way forward for any-sized business to gain the data protection they need. The cloud offers an opportunity to gain access to affordable yet powerful data backup and recovery.

What do we need to keep in mind when looking for a cloud backup solution?  Below is what we like to call “The Pillars of Successful Cloud Backups.”

Successful Cloud Backup

Take note of the SAFE Backup data principles:

  • Secure – encryption and reporting of where all backup data is located
  • Accessible/Available – local cache allows for high performance of both backups and restores
  • Foundational – seamlessly fits into existing backup operations by becoming a disk storage unit (CIFS or NFS)
  • Efficient – allows for use of low cost cloud object storage for long term backup and archive requirements

Cloud SAFE backup solutions can offer the protection your business needs with less complication and even less cost.

If you would like to learn more, we invite you to attend our SAFE Backups in the Cloud seminar on March 24th at 6:30 pm in St. Louis Park.  Learn more about backups in the cloud and watch the premiere of Batman v. Superman before opening night!

Back up with Brains

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Joe Garber walks through four types of analysis that can be applied to backup and disaster recovery (DR) in a recent article for NetworkWorld.  He writes, “Data is the DNA of the modern organization and found in the cloud, behind four walls and at the network’s edge.  Data is also growing at a greater speed than ever before.  This unique combination of growing data complexity, sprawl and volume is forcing IT to rethink traditional approaches to backup and recovery.”

Today let’s take a look at the four types of analysis that he describes as giving back up and disaster recovery “brains”. The analysis types include:

  • Environmental
  • Retrospective
  • Predictive
  • Prescriptive

Each provide a different look into your network and when combined Mr. Garber writes, “they allow enterprises to be proactive in prioritizing data, predicting resource utilization, mitigating risk and optimizing infrastructure in order to reduce the burden on resources and manage the costs.”  Here are the definitions of each:

Environmental – with data spread inside and outside of the company environmental analysis allows IT to determine how to manage back up and delivery of information.

Retrospective – this analysis takes into account historical back up and recovery success and failures. It also can be used to determine how resources are best utilized and used to prioritize data so back up can be optimized to meet service levels.

Predictive  – as the name implies, this type of analysis can help IT plan for future capacity needs. Using historical patterns it can also help to identify potential back up and DR  crunch points that need to be resolved.

Prescriptive – this analysis looks at what is happening now and provides steps to solve problems when they occur.

In closing Mr. Garber adds, “As organizations adjust to the reality of a changing IT world — with increasing volume, variety, and velocity of information sources, which have expanded beyond the four corporate walls — they must also expand their information management practices to keep pace with the increasing demands.  In short, they need to move from defense to offense.”

Share how your DR is moving from defense to offense this year.