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Backup and Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery
Martin Collier

By Martin Collier Consulant, Updated 17 May 2017

Business continuity in the digital age is reliant on ensuring that mission-critical data is backed up regularly enough to prevent unplanned outages, hardware failures and other dilemmas from impacting on your organisation’s ability to operate as usual. This means that disaster recovery planning has to factor in the need for a consistent, resilient backup solution in order to be effective.


Furthermore, the threats to continuity are ever-evolving, with direct damage to systems, faults with the infrastructure, issues with connectivity, human error and direct cyber attacks all ranking high on the list of potential disruptions. So if the primary versions of data have not been replicated and protected, restoration will be impossible.

Virtualization Complications

Another factor that modern organisations have to consider when planning for disasters is that in most cases, the act of restoring vital data will not be enough on its own to allow things to get back to normal. This is because entire working environments, including software apps, operating systems and the settings that alter how these behave, will also need to be backed up and restored alongside the information itself.

By using virtual machines, rather than relying on distinct workstations on which software is locally installed and to which access is limited, businesses free up employees to embrace hot-desking, remote working and BYOD. Because of this, backing up data, along with the entire ecosystem within which it is accessible, is a necessity.

In theory, the use of a cloud-based infrastructure can both streamline the backup process and allow for a quicker recovery in the event of a disaster. In practice however, it is necessary to consider the different platforms, packages and vendors that are involved, in order to create an effective continuity plan.

Potential Advantages

In spite of the obstacles that organisations need to overcome in a virtualized ecosystem, backing up data and working environments should be more cost-effective and less convoluted in the long term, if enough testing is done in the early stages of deployment.

Making use of the solutions offered by vendors that base their platforms in the cloud, rather than relying on in-house servers owned and operated by your organisation on its own, can be the best option. Many vendors offer disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), which ties in the ability to backup and restore information, apps and settings at a moment’s notice.

Some services will take regular snapshots of virtual machines, resulting in brief pauses as the backup is created. Other vendors have found a way to work around this and provide continuous data protection without interruptions.

There are so many different platforms designed to aid organisations with backup and disaster recovery out there, some of which are holistic and offer compatibility with a range of other solutions, while others are more tightly targeted at a specific product. Because of this, careful comparison is crucial.

Businesses with a number of legacy systems which they may need to migrate to the cloud, or to incorporate as part of a hybrid physical and virtual environment, may need to look at the packages offered by established vendors. These packages can help to bridge this gap as efficiently as possible, avoiding conflicts in the process.

Smaller firms and start-ups that have less developed IT infrastructures in place may be in a better position to fully adopt a cloud-first stance on procurement. Ideally they will be able to set up a disaster recovery plan which has been scaled to fit their budget so that their organisation’s data protection and preservation efforts are not going to leave their resources overstretched. In short these essential elements of their business need not be neglected due to cost.

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