Daren Howell considers why now is not the time to be complacent about how your organisation handles its data … Data is power....
Disaster can strike no matter how well prepared a business is and so it’s important for companies to have well-thought out recovery plans. The cloud has had a huge impact on data recovery, making it a much smoother and more streamlined process. With so much information stored digitally today, having an effective cloud data recovery plan in place is of the upmost importance.
Before the days of cloud computing, backup data had to be stored on drives that would be managed and updated by businesses via a lengthy process. Then they had be transported to another location for security purposes and stored. This was not only time-consuming but also costly as a result of the security and transportation of the physical backups. What’s more, every time a business needed to update its recovery data, the process needed to be repeated, wasting more resources.
Thankfully, cloud recovery plans are a very different proposition. Firstly, the process is a lot less disruptive. Data can now be transferred quickly and reliably over a network connection, meaning that backing up data and moving it to, say, a data centre takes far less time. Businesses can also choose which computer resources to back up externally, leaving less critical processes on-premise if they wish.
However, data recovery is about more than just backup storage. It also defines a company’s ability to react to technical issues and other interruptions. With a well-implemented data recovery plan businesses can limit downtime and gain a reputation as a reliable service provider. For example, if a natural disaster were to occur, companies may have to worry about more than retrieving important files. Their entire IT infrastructure may be down, but if it is hosted by an external cloud provider it can be restored to a point in time before the interruption occurred.
The cloud is being used to deliver more and more business services and as such, a strong data recovery plan can allow businesses to access their files, operating system and entire infrastructure remotely. Desktop virtualisation, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) are examples that more and more business processes are being hosted in the cloud. This means that if there is a hardware failure or software disruption to your on-premise resources, returning to service should be straightforward using cloud-based resources.
However, in order to get the most out of your cloud data recovery plan, it’s worth keeping in mind some best practices. First of all, businesses must create a clearly defined data recovery strategy. All employees should be aware of their particular role in the event of service disruption and what they can do to speed up the recovery process. Businesses should also have a schedule agreed with their cloud provider regarding how often backups occur and have a contingency plan in the event of data being lost.
It is also crucial that businesses are aware of any data governance regulations regarding the storage of their applications and data. Some types of sensitive information must be stored within its country of origin, for example, and this ruling also extends to backup versions. As such, companies must check that they and their cloud recovery provider are compliant with existing regulations. However, the flexibility that the cloud offers means that businesses can often meet legal requirements by spreading their recovery service across multiple data centres. Consumer data could be stored locally, for example, while recovery infrastructure and applications could be hosted elsewhere.
When it comes to implementing an effective cloud data recovery plan, choosing the right supplier is crucial. Sungard AS replicates your business processes in real-time across its secure data centres, keeping a constantly updated record of any data changes. This means that businesses can issue a complete restoration in the event of an unexpected mishap. Sungard AS also offers regular testing of your recovery plan to ensure that you are prepared in the event of a genuine disaster. Businesses should check what service level agreement (SLA) and recovery point objective (RPO) their cloud providers are offering to gain a better understanding of how long their critical processes are likely to be affected following a disruptive event.
Cloud computing has revolutionised data recovery plans, making them much smoother, quicker and affordable. For businesses unsure of whether or not to invest in a robust plan, it is worth imagining the financial and reputational cost if some or all of your critical business process were disrupted over a long period of time. Disruptive events cannot be completely eradicated, but an effective data recovery plan can help your business mitigate any damage caused.