Every business today relies on data. Indeed, it is now said by some that data has replaced oil as the world's most valuable commodity. So if you lose it, the consequences can be severe.
Recent ransomware attacks on large organizations such as the NHS have demonstrated just how crippling it can be to lose access to critical enterprise data, but this is just one of many risks facing enterprises today. Equipment failure, human error or natural disaster can all have a catastrophic impact on a large business, which could end up costing millions of dollars.
Therefore, it is essential that large enterprises have a comprehensive backup and recovery strategy in place in order to minimize downtime and ensure business continuity. But with the huge volume and variety of data today's large enterprises possess, and the increasingly complex network of suppliers and partners that depend on this information, this is far from a simple process.
So what should enterprises be doing to ensure their efforts are successful? Here are six key steps that need to be part of every business' strategy.
1. Determine where to prioritize your efforts
A first step must be to thoroughly evaluate what data and applications businesses have in their ecosystem and determine how crucial it is to the effective running of the business. There are two typical approaches when it comes to backing up data - either save everything, or restrict operations to only the most business-critical files.
For large enterprises, it may not be practical to conduct full backups all the time. Therefore, the key question businesses should ask is what data would be required to restart operations from scratch. They can then focus their efforts on this critical data.
2. Audit your current policies and processes
When developing a backup plan, understanding the current infrastructure environment and future capacity requirements will be crucial. Without this information, it will be impossible to ensure that backup operations will be completed successfully and quickly.
Many large enterprises will have multiple data centers spread across geographically diverse locations, so it is essential that companies are able to gain a complete, global view of this.
3. Identify where backups should lie
Determining the location of your backups is also essential. Smaller firms may be able to use on-site servers at a secondary location to remove the risk of power failures or natural disasters, but for large enterprises, this is likely to be inadequate.
One increasingly popular solution is cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions, which use public cloud solutions to backup and recover data. Such tools are particularly valuable for their ability to scale up in response to increased capacity demands.
4. Create a comprehensive plan
All the above should feed into the creation of a comprehensive backup and recovery plan which spells out the processes and objectives for the strategy, including where and when data is backed up, goals for recovery times in the event of downtime or data loss and who is responsible for managing the process.
This stage should also define how often backups should occur, with more mission-critical data being backed up more frequently. For example, a plan may specify a complete backup of a system on a weekly basis, with certain areas done daily, or even hourly.
5. Have the right recovery tools
Backing up data will be of no use, however, if businesses aren't able to retrieve it quickly when needed. Therefore, effective tools for the management and recovery of this data is another factor that must not be overlooked.
Questions IT leaders must ask include;
- How easy it is to recover key files, folders and volumes?
- Who will have access to this critical information - the ability to control user access and privilege levels is a must-have.
Being able to view snapshots of possible rollbacks also helps enterprises recover data to the most appropriate time.
6. Ensure you're conducting ongoing assessments
Finally, it's important that businesses don't treat these backup plans as something to be drawn up and then left alone. Especially in large enterprises, the IT environment is constantly evolving, and this will impact the backup strategy.
If you do not keep up with this, it may be the case that changing circumstances mean some data is not backed up as frequently as you expect. As well as ongoing monitoring of the strategy, you should also undergo frequent testing of your recovery processes, which should highlight any gaps, delays or other issues that need to be addressed.