Small Businesses' Secret Elixir for Data Protection

Date:   Thursday , April 14, 2016

Headquartered in Minnesota, Arcserve is a global leader in proving data protection and recovery software to multi-national organisations, thus enabling them to recover their data and applications when needed

Due to affordability, cloud-based disaster recovery is enabling small and medium-sized businesses to upgrade their data protection to rival that of enterprise level organizations for the first time. And small businesses are eating it up, adopting cloud based data storage and recovery faster than their mid and large-sized peers.

All organizations, big or small, are vulnerable in terms to data loss and disaster. Threats come in various forms: power failure, weather, computer viruses, data corruption, and the most unpredictable - human error. IT life is full of small disasters! Downtime after a data loss or disaster event can be kryptonite to business continuity, so it\'s critical for companies to restore full operations and recover their data as quickly as possible.

We often follow the convenient policy of \'if it isn\'t broke, don\'t worry about it\' and unfortunately SMBs can be at even a larger risk for damages that pop up from extended recovery times. Immature infrastructure, limited IT budgets and fewer personnel can prevent SMBs from having a holistic backup and data recovery strategies and IT solutions in the first place. It results in extended downtime and unrepairable financial and reputational damages to the company.

That said, there are a few critical steps that should be taken in order to have a complete data protection strategy.

1. Knowledge & understanding of the Holistic data protection strategy and its different solutions: Do your research. If you are new to the world of cloud-based data backup and recovery, there is much to learn. You can tap into excellent online resources, but a simple candid conversation with an IT colleague about their experiences with cloud-based data protection and a discussion on different deployment models (software, cloud, appliance or a combination) will go a long way to providing an insight as to how easy was it to deploy and manage. You can inquire about what level of recovery and performance you can expect and ask what (if any) were hidden \'gotchas\'. Better to learn from the mistakes of others than you making it yourself!

2. Disaster recovery \'triad\': The disaster recovery \'triad\' involves technology, processes and people. IT administrators are known to make the mistake of spending majority of their time on the technological aspect of the triad, when all the facets need attention. For a successful and efficient disaster recovery, all processes must be developed and step-by-step instructions must be documented on how to recover applications. A disaster recovery plan is only as good as the people responsible for its execution. Hence, the key to success is regular training. A thorough and well tested plan takes a large amount of preparation and testing and a careful combination of backup technologies. Understanding the details can mean the difference between a company leveraging emerging solutions to achieve complete protection.

3. Beware of the \'gotchas\': The \'gotchas\' come in many forms and are not easy to avoid (which is why they\'re called \'gotchas\'). But with careful preparation and planning, you can avoid as many as possible. Consider the technology you plan to deploy and ask questions such as:

• Have you consulted with reference customers to gain their experience?

• Have you considered all of the necessary SKUs for purchase?

• Is there any hidden cost?

• What service or support options should you pick?

• What are the charges if you want to discontinue the service?

• What happens if your vendor is acquired or goes out of business?

Storing your valuable information in the cloud is a big responsibility, so be prepared to ask your vendor all of the tough questions.

4. Preparing a disaster recovery plan book listing all of the steps critical for recovery: Preparing a thorough disaster recovery planning book is so critical to a successful backup and recovery deployment that it\'s worth mentioning again. Consider that a typical disaster recovery deployment is a combination of technology and processes, where a vendor can provide the technology to spin up your virtual machines in the cloud, but you must identify which machines to start. In what order should the machines start? Which network resources (i.e. load balancers, firewalls, DNS, directory/authentication servers) do they access for startup information? These questions must be carefully considered and documented if you want your disaster recovery plan to succeed. Consider working with a Managed Service Provider who can help you greatly in making your plan to work, and protecting your data on a daily basis.

5. Evaluate adding a cloud-based solution: Cloud adoption grew and became a more widely accepted and established method of data protection and disaster recovery last year. Significant advancements in network bandwidth and lower costs made it a realistic data protection option for organizations of all size. It promises to deliver disaster readiness for organizations of all sizes. Cloud related solutions have in a way \'democratized\' Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. The benefits are plenty:

• No requirement to hire personnel to rack and configure servers and storage as all of it is in the cloud

• Simple subscription based pricing puts resources at your fingertips

• Options range from file to folder copy, to back up in the cloud and to disaster Recovery in the cloud

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) can provide a fantastic option to leverage a co-located recovery resource out of region without having to provide the upfront capital one would require to build a secondary location or data center. Depending on your needs, different cloud-based disaster recovery solutions are available, however you\'ll want to ask yourself:

• Is your goal to completely replace your on premise data protection solution with a cloud-based solution?

• Do you want to complement your on premise backup solution with a cloud copy and discontinue your offsite tape storage practice?

• Do you want to be capable of running your critical business applications in the cloud in the event of a disaster?

The devil is in the details when it comes to cloud-based backup and recovery. While cloud solutions make enterprise-level data recovery possible for SMBs for the first time, there are a lot else to address in order to have a comprehensive protection in place as a contingency.

A recent examination of the leading trends which will impact the Indian SMB growth include transitioning to the cloud with participation in remote managed services and SaaS remaining high. They are slowly becoming aware that losing client data can cost the company market credibility and customer relationship.

Now more than ever, SMBs are in a great position to significantly improve their data protection and disaster recovery capabilities with a variety of deployment modes and levels of capital investment. The infamous Murphy\'s Law will happen: preparedness and planning is the best way to mitigate its consequences. With today\'s wide array of solutions, every business can benefit from enterprise-class Disaster Recovery rather than launch into a tailspin of losing valuable data.