What would you do if your business lost all its data or if all your systems were inaccessible? Could you afford to be offline for more than an hour, or more than a day?
Most businesses don’t know the exact answer to those questions. But some 53 per cent of organizations say they can tolerate less than an hour of downtime before they experience significant revenue loss or other adverse impacts, according to a study by Enterprise Strategy Group.
While no one wants to lose revenue, there are also intangibles to consider: loss of employee productivity, loss of customer confidence and damage to your brand’s reputation — something much harder to put a price on. Plus, if you’re in an industry with regulatory and compliance requirements, data loss could result in stiff penalties and legal repercussions.
Making data protection an IT priority
Despite this, backup and disaster recovery haven’t exactly been high on the list of IT priorities for many smaller organizations — until now. If anything good has come out of the rise of ransomware, it’s an increased focus on the need for backup and disaster recovery.
Cyber-attackers are increasingly targeting hospitals, schools and government departments, as well as smaller businesses (since they tend to have lax security compared to larger enterprises). And old-school backup — in the form of tapes and disk drives — is no longer sufficient.
These days, there’s a lot more interest in data protection solutions because of threats like ransomware and DDoS attacks that can paralyze a business, says Sherry Ruddock, Cloud Solutions Specialist at Epic, an MTS Company that specializes in IT services. Most businesses are already backing up their data — what’s lacking, she says, is a quick turnaround in recovering that data or entire business systems.
Backup and disaster recovery solutions involve making a copy of data or business systems so if something goes wrong — equipment fails, a laptop is stolen, or you’re the victim of a physical break-in or cyber-attack — you have a way to restore.
“If your tapes are offsite and your building burns down, or you’re attacked by Crypto, think of the steps you currently would need to take to get your systems back up and running,” says Ruddock. If it takes days or weeks, that’s going to be a problem.
“We often ask companies to determine what their RTO (recovery time objective) and RPO (recovery point objective) is,” she says. “Is it 15 minutes or is it several days? How much data can you lose and still resume business? How long can your systems be inaccessible before your business starts to suffer?”
If you only backup nightly, you could lose up to 24 hours of data. For some organizations that’s okay, but for others that would spell disaster.
Related: “The 3-2-1 rule can rescue your business data”
Data protection services in the cloud
Traditional methods of backup, such as copying data to backup tapes or disk drives, were at one time the best (and only) option for small and mid-sized businesses. These methods tended to be cost-effective and addressed regulatory requirements to maintain archival backup — but it’s no longer consistent with current best practices.
If you’re storing backup tapes or disk drives on-site, your data isn’t protected from break-ins or natural disasters. If you’re moving storage devices to an offsite location, not only is this a manual process and prone to human error, but you’re also introducing the risk of loss or theft.
With advances in cloud computing, SMBs now have the option of not only backing up their data in the cloud, but also to replicate their entire production environment to the cloud. That allows you to access your data even if your physical location is compromised. How?
Cloud takes a different approach to backup and disaster recovery; it’s not reliant on standby hardware. Since you don’t have to reload each component on the server, you can reduce recovery times dramatically compared to traditional recovery approaches (such as tape) that could take days or even weeks.
It’s also far more cost-effective, even for smaller businesses. Just like other cloud services, data protection can be tailored to meet your needs — maybe you only need to backup or replicate your data once a day; maybe you need to do it more frequently. A cloud services provider can make recommendations on the best backup services for your organization and work out details around frequency and latency (how quickly you can retrieve your data if necessary).
Recovery time is essential
If you’re considering an investment in cloud data protection services and wondering how it stacks up against traditional methods such as tape, Ruddock suggests that your true ROI can be found in recovery times. “How do you measure that in value?” she says.
Using Veeam, Epic’s disaster-recovery-as-a-service option, organizations can be back up and running in 15 minutes — or less.
Cloud data protection services — part of a disaster recovery and business continuity plan — helps provide a roadmap for getting your business back up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible, so you’re prepared when the unexpected happens.
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