When they think of protecting their digital infrastructure and intellectual property, most corporate executives think in terms of “data backup.” The more forward-looking of these senior managers might ask for “cloud backup,” because they understand the drawbacks of trying to back up their mission-critical digital assets entirely onsite.
But is a backup solution—even a 100% reliable one—actually sufficient to get a business up and running immediately after a disaster? Not even close. Let’s review a few definitions to understand why backup falls far short of a true corporate data-protection strategy.
Backup refers to the process of creating and storing additional copies of data. Some businesses maintain these copies on-prem—for example, on tapes, disks, external hard drives, or backup servers. Other businesses choose to send their data backups to the cloud—meaning one or more external data centers—to add a layer of redundancy in the event of, say, a power outage or flood at the company’s location.
Backup is just one piece of the data-protection puzzle
Now, let’s say your company experiences some type of data emergency: a natural disaster at your headquarters, a ransomware attack that locks your staff out of your networks, an employee’s accidental deletion of mission-critical files or folders, etc.
What plan do you have in place for resuming normal business operations—without losing productivity, losing revenue, upsetting customers, falling out of compliance with data-privacy laws, and jeopardizing your company’s reputation?
Although backup is a mission-critical component of your company’s data-protection strategy, it is just one component. Your backup solution itself has nothing to say about how you’ll access or restore your digital infrastructure in the event of a disaster. A comprehensive strategy demands more.
You need a disaster recovery solution
Disaster recovery describes a company’s process for accessing its mission-critical data and systems after a data disaster. In other words, DR picks up where backup leaves off, enabling the business’s employees to regain access to their digital assets—data, apps, etc.—from a secondary data center until the primary center is restored.
Moreover, an effective DR solution must be tailored to your company’s circumstances and needs. You will need to establish a plan, for example, to ensure you’ll be able to retrieve precisely the data your team needs, and to resume normal operations in the timeframe your business needs.
You need RTOs and RPOs
A recovery time objective (RTO) refers to the time your business would need to regain access to data and systems you first experience a disaster. When creating your DR plan, you might set RTOs for your less-important digital assets for several hours, but minutes for your mission-critical data.
A recovery point objective (RPO) refers to how far back in time your business would need to go to retrieve data for use after a disaster. Another way to think of this is how much data your company could afford to lose permanently (in terms of previous backup versions) before it caused real harm to your business. Like RTOs, you’ll want to establish your own RPOs based on your business’s need—and loss tolerance—for various types of data.
As you can see, we’re getting far from a simple “data backup” solution here. But these additional tools and processes are necessary for keeping your business functional during a disaster.
Which brings us to a final solution that you’ll need to build out a comprehensive data-protection strategy that will see your business through any disaster.
You need an expert DRaaS partner
Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) describes a fully managed and monitored approach to disaster recovery. The expert cloud vendors who offer DRaaS solutions can help you create a digital infrastructure that will help your business right itself almost immediately following a data emergency.
As Dan Timko, CTO of OffsiteDataSync’s parent company j2 Cloud Services, explained in a TechTarget article: “A DRaaS provider is going to have equipment that is modern and is performing better when you do need to recover.”
And in addition to providing you better equipment to recover from any data disaster, a DRaaS partner will also help your company prepare for those disasters in many ways, including:
- Help you set up a custom backup and DR infrastructure tailored to your needs
- Help you establish the right RTOs and RPOs for your business
- Proactively monitor your data and systems, and alert you of any issues
- Conduct regular DR testing to identify any technical gaps or issues
- Be there for your team 24/7 in case you ever need help with a data emergency