By: Tyler Cairns |

In the modern era of consumerism, where end users want all the information and resources available to them when they want it and in real time, it’s surprising to see how many organizations are not prepared for the worst case scenario.  Backing up your data and having a disaster recovery plan are essential in today’s business.

Commonly, this topic is more about the fact that “people don’t know what they don’t know”, than the understanding of the threat.  Business and IT leaders know that their data needs to be protected and at the ready, for internal and external use at any moment in time.  What not all of those leaders know is how their organization is currently set up to handle natural disasters or unforeseen equipment failure.

Anyone who’s been in business long enough has heard the horror stories – servers dying during an online purchasing burst, malfunctioning air conditioning thereby creating a sauna in the server room, and water pipes bursting and destroying the production and backup servers.  Yet, there are companies out there that still put their businesses at risk. Still not sure if your organization needs help with their backup and recovery plans? Read on to find out if this is you.

Still Using Disks or Backup is Onsite
While daily or weekly backup disks that are shipped offsite at the end of any given day are still a widely used practice in the small to medium size business space, this is equivalent to using a Walkman for music while exercising.

The main reasons that this approach is still in practice is because of it’s perceived safety (because you physically touch the disks) and it’s cheaper than changing to something new, although this is no longer the case.  In addition, having a backup server on site is still common practise but this is generally because of cost restrictions, reluctance to change, and the leadership team being unaware that their company has a single point of failure.

With the number of Cloud backup offerings available today, the process of having a live backup updated to a remote offsite location in the cloud is minimal in cost, easily deployed and has additional benefits, such as increases in storage resources.

In addition, the security provided by these service providers is, generally, greater than any personal security that can be provided by a small organization because protecting the sensitivity and security of your information is the livelihood of the business for those providers.  If they’re unable to protect your information and keep it safe from a disaster, then those organizations will be out of business.  Plus, those providing backup and recovery services need to be up to date on the latest technology and security requirements to keep your information safe, something that is quite costly to do on your own.

Backup is a “Daily Practice” Instead of a “Business Strategy”
Some organizations conduct backups because they need to as part of their day-to-day. There’s no recovery testing, there’s no backup testing and there is no connection to the potential damage it could have on the business if a disaster were to strike the company.  In today’s businesses you have to consider your backup and disaster recovery plans as strategy initiatives that are there in case the worst happens.  Essentially, these functions are your company’s insurance policies.

A proper backup and disaster recovery plan is designed off an understanding of your organization’s critical data and application needs.  It takes into account the required storage, scalability, recovery timeline and the acceptable period of time since the last backup.  These requirements will alter the cost of the offerings and will require that there is a candid business discussion and a true understanding of the organizations service catalog, as it sits today and where you want it to be.

You Believe Disaster Recover is Complicated
This is the most common fear and excuse when doing a self-assessment of your organization’s backup and recovery plans.  The fact is that you are right, the proper backup plan and disaster recovery is complicated, however, it doesn’t have to be complicated for the customer.  The service providers in the market should be making this process easy for you.  If you haven’t sat down with an IT-as-a-Service provider to understand how they can provide a proper offsite backup and disaster recovery plan, which can be in the cloud or not, then you should.  You’d be surprised at how simple these providers can make the process and how cost effective the solutions can be.

The best providers will walk you through an assessment of your current environment, understand your end goal, your budget and then make a recommendation on how they can fit the criteria.  An amazing provider will even let you know if you are going to put your business in the way of danger and refuse to do a requested deployment if it means the plan will put your organization at an unwarranted risk.

Initial Questions to ask the Service Provider:
There are some things you would want to ask when considering an organization that is providing offsite backup and recovery services and here are some to help you get started:

Is the offsite location far enough away, is it outside of a seismic 6 area?
If your company is recovering from a flood, an earthquake, a fire or other natural disasters that can hit, and if you want the company to be able to run without additional hiccups, then the backup or recovery servers should be outside of that same region.

Where is the physical Location of the Data?
Is it in a secure data centre or is it in a closet or basement of an office building?
Is it in Canada, the US or another country?

Security of Data Transfer
Is the data transfer happening through a secure protocol from site to site?
Is the infrastructure redundant?

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