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By: Chad Menard, Director of Managed Services, Aspiring Blogger

In today’s modern business world you should be investing in a business continuity offering. You may say, “I already have a backup solution in place.” What is the difference and what should you be considering to protect operations?

Backup’s solutions are a solution of the past. They do not offer the insurance that your data is easily accessible and allows fast restore availability. A backup solution will simply ensure your data is on external media and readily available for emergency situations.

Business Continuity offers the assurance that your business and operations will survive at almost any given situation. Whether that be caused by human interaction or natural disasters. Business Continuity (BC) is not just technical but it is also about the planning and periodic testing of that plan.

What do I need to ask?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a business continuity solution.

  1. What is your Recovery Point Object (RPO). How often does your data need to back up? Can the solution offer scheduling? Can that schedule vary across servers or applications?
  2. How much data can you lose?
  3. What is your most critical data? How often does that data change?
  4. How long can operations live without access to your data?
  5. How often is your current backup solution tested?
  6. Is your data replicated offsite and where is that located?
  7. How much data do I need locally?
  8. How much data do I need offsite?

A reliable business continuity solution should provide you with options for all of the above questions. If you have multiple servers but do not need them to be backed up every hour, it’s important to have a solution that allows you the granularity to configure these schedules across your infrastructure. It will maximize your investment and keep you from adding additional costs.

Protect what is valuable

Your BC solution should be expandable. If you cannot add storage locally or offsite you will be constantly spending dollars. The BC solution should give you options to grow into.  As your company grows your data will grow. The more data you have the larger your protected space is.

Most of the companies that invest in backups don’t test the solution. Your provider should be scheduling a full Business Continuity test. At the minimum an annual test is recommended. It is recommended that you be involved in verifying the data is accurate. After the test is complete, they should have written documentation. This will cover any issues and the base configuration to connect your location to the offsite data center. Every BC solution needs to be tested.

When considering sending your data offsite. Identify where the data center is located. I do not recommend replicating to a data center in the same state as your company.  It is recommended to replicate to a different time zone.  That way in the event of a natural disaster your offsite data is not compromised

Data in the Bank

When considering the decision of how much data should I keep onsite vs offsite? The best analogy I have been told is to think of your offsite location as a bank and your local storage as a wallet. You always want more money in the bank than you do your wallet. That said, the concern is cost. Over the past 5 years, the cost of storage has reduced itself to be more affordable.  Most offering are under .50 per Gb of data transferred. There are other solutions out there that don’t bill per Gb, instead its retention based storage. This means your costs are dependent on how long you want to keep your data. The decision there is do you have any compliance requiring you to keep data for more than a year?

Data Restoration Technology

Every solution should have the most common types of restore capabilities.

  1. File
  2. Folder
  3. Bare Metal

As business continuity technology advances, some providers offer solutions that give you instant access, not just your data but the capability to take a backup image and boot to it. The questions there are:

  1. How long does that process take?
  2. Is it instant or require an export?
  3. How do you get the data back to the original sever once restored?
  4. Is this done locally or offsite? Maybe both.

I would also recommend a solution that allows you to export your data to a hypervisor such as VMware or Hyper V. These are the two most predominate in the market today for virtual platforms amongst SMB.

If you depend on your data to keep operations in motion,  I recommend you take the time and investment with a business continuity solution. Just having backups in place is not enough to protect your organization. In the event of a disaster you be grateful you have invested in a hero to save the day.

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