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Data center backup strategies

How to protect a company’s most important assets

June 10, 2019

The data center is the backbone and nerve center of an organization, the place where its most critical assets—the data it depends on—are stored and processed. Loss or compromise of that data can do serious damage or be fatal to a business. The average cost of a data breach is about $7 million—and an estimated 60% of companies that experience data loss close within six months of the incident. Even if a company manages to survive a data loss, it can be incredibly costly—to the tune of $7 million on average per incident.    
 
Needless to say, having a consistent backup and data recovery plan in place is essential for survival.  
 
Key factors to consider in developing a backup strategy
  • Every organization should designate a backup administrator, a person to spearhead the entire backup operation and determine what files and databases require backup. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to back up all critical data and assets—operating systems, applications and configurations—and do it often. If a data center uses virtualization, the host and management console need to be backed up as well as virtual machines. Mobile devices shouldn’t be overlooked either.
     
  • The next critical decision is to determine the backup schedule, including the recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO).  

    RPO refers to the maximum amount of time an organization is willing to lose data and how much data it can stand to lose. The shorter the RPO, the more backup is required—which means more resources are required to implement it. SMBs usually have an RPO of 24 hours, which requires a backup at least once a day. Tiered RPOs—shorter RPOs for critical systems and longer RPOs for secondary systems—are also common in small and midsize organizations.

    RTO refers to how fast an organization can recover from a data incident and return to normal operations. Those companies that want a shorter RTO (a few hours at the maximum) require faster and more expensive storage and network technology.
     
  • Once scheduling has been determined, another important decision is the method of backup: hardware appliances, software, cloud or a combination.
Data backup solutions
The following are the most commonly used resources for data backup. The choice of which solution to use will depend on a number of variables, including RTO/RPO, the cost of the solution and the nature of the IT infrastructure.
  • Hardware appliances are easy to install and configure. Storage is usually included and comes as a rack-mounted device that can be connected to the network.
  • Software backup can be installed on existing systems, including virtual machines. However, some software solutions may require a dedicated server be used exclusively for backup purposes.
  • Backup as a service (BaaS) is a cloud-based offering that allows organizations to provision and run their backup from a provider’s cloud infrastructure. This is the simplest option of all because no hardware has to be provisioned and configured.
  • Hybrid backup solutions provide the best of worlds, allowing an organization to have some control over backup in-house and to use cloud resources when appropriate.
Deciding where to store the backups
Common options include local or USB disks (best for backing up individual files and hardware), network attached storage (NAS) and storage area networks (SAN), tape backup and the cloud. Once again, choosing the right option will depend on a number of variables, including cost and infrastructure.
 
There are no right or wrong choices when it comes to data backup strategy. Except, of course, not having one at all.

To learn more about data center backup strategies and how to help your customer implement one, contact our data center expert, Nick Vermiglio.