It is important to consider as many risks as possible when addressing data backup.

Nature of backup and recovery changing

Stephen Perkins

It can be difficult to justify strategies for things that have yet to happen. According to Computing's John Leonard, data backup and disaster recovery are singularly considered the "Cinderella of the IT world" - while they are important areas for businesses to focus on, they often lose out in funding to other considerations. This is often because organizations do not consider all possible outcomes of what can happen. In an age where, according to InfoStor contributor Christine Taylor, the nature of data back up is changing, this can be risky behavior.

Many new variables have cropped up around traditional considerations like fire and water damage. Exponentially, there have also been new developments in backup technology that allow for alternative solutions to possible hazards. It is important to examine both potential disasters and methods which can mitigate their effects.

Efforts must be made in quantification
As stated, one of the biggest problems with modern disaster recovery is that it is difficult to determine every conceivable scenario. According to Leonard, a survey conducted by Computing found that many IT professionals considered things like flooding and power loss, but "complex, multi-layered scenarios" were rarely taken into account in terms of server backup.

"From a pack of kippers left in a duct by a vengeful air con supplier to an operator vomiting over a rack of switches and bringing down an entire network as a result of finding a decomposing and very smelly hedgehog in the works, bad smells are something unlikely to feature in many disaster recovery plans," he said.

Leonard said that these issues are hard to quantify unless they have happened within the organization before. Human error, specifically, is unpredictable. But for companies to truly have an effective protocol in place, assets must be inventoried and categorized by importance across the enterprise as a whole. This can be costly and time consuming, but some semblance of it must occur in order to cover as many bases as possible – as the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Even if these issues never arise while the current staff is in place, the long-term success of a business's backup solution will depend on this.

How data backup is changing
It used to be that a proper protection plan consisted of an external drive that got backed up at the end of the day, or even just a small budget consideration to replace anything lost or destroyed. According to Taylor, this is no longer the case. Data environments are – and have been – changing at a rapid rate. Older solutions are not able to keep up with cloud infrastructures or virtualization.

Taylor said that, in order for businesses to put effective data protection plans into play, a deep, thorough understanding of enterprise systems and backup services are going to be required. While deep, "true" cost-benefit analysis might not be possible to pursue in these situations, Leonard said that it is essential to try coming as close as possible when dealing with online data backup.

"Failure to put any numbers at all on key resources will certainly make the job of selling a strategic approach to the board all the more difficult," he said.

Categories: Cloud Backup, Data Protection, Disaster Recovery, Online Backup, Server Backup