Every business owner should know and understand the backup strategy that protects critical data that, if lost, could affect their bottom line. Business owners face unique challenges within their specific industries, whether they work in retail or manufacturing, energy or financial services. However, every business faces similar challenges when dealing with data protection and data security. When I discuss backups with a new or prospective client there’s often at least one part of their configuration that is weak enough to impact the integrity of the entire solution.
Today’s CIO needs a backup strategy that addresses hybrid cloud environments and distributed storage, and solutions should be carefully assessed as computing requirements evolve. But what about smaller businesses that don’t have a CIO? In these situations, IT-related tasks are often delegated to an employee who already has a primary job. The term “backup” is sometimes used interchangeably with an incorrect solution or feature like cloud storage, RAID or Disaster Recovery, and is often the most under-scrutinized part of a business’s IT environment.
As a sales consultant for a national IT Managed Solutions Provider, I’m proud to say our managed backup services work. Time and time again, our services have proved to be compliant, secure and monitored. We offer high-value/low-cost solutions in two levels: Backup Lite and Backup Pro. Backup Lite is appropriate for most small to medium businesses, and Backup Pro is capable of more robust features.
In an ideal world, every business owner would have a basic understanding of the role backup plays in their business. Although it’s much easier to simply place the ownership on a third party, business owners need to understand the basics like retention, security and your rights under the agreement. This ensures that when (not IF) you need to use your backup, you’ll be prepared for what’s next.
What should be backed up?
A backup solution needs to protect any data that would impact the business if lost. Paperless databases, proprietary information, trade secrets, email, client info, etc. should be kept secure and protected. This data should already be a global share where employees can save items, so managing the backup source is simplified. Various solutions can perform backup jobs on folders or entire machines, so business owners need to understand what the solution is protecting, and what they’re paying for. It’s generally more expensive to protect entire partitions or machines because of the data volume protected and the fact that this type will get you up and running much faster. In a virtualized environment protecting virtual machines (VMs) makes the most sense.
If protecting VMs or partitions is not in the budget, then only the critical data share should be the focus of your file-level backup solution. In the event of total loss, this option will have a longer recovery time. At this option, you’re not backing up the machine’s operating system or settings.
The True Cost of Downtime
There are two things every business owner must know about data backup and recovery:
- Recovery-Point-Objective (RPO): How much can you stand to lose? Can you afford to lose 24 hours of data, or just 15 minutes?
- Recovery-Time-Objective (RTO): How long can you be down? How much does it cost your business to be out-of-service for 1 hour? How about 24 hours?
The closer your RPO and RTO numbers get to 0 minutes, the more expensive and complex the solution becomes. This is where a Managed Solutions Provider (MSP) can tailor a data backup and recovery solution to your needs and capabilities, where “needs” translates to what lost data would lead to closing the business, and “capabilities” translates to the budget and other connectivity factors at your site.
Understanding the true cost of downtime should affect how you select RPO and RTO. You should have a basic idea of the true cost of an outage in your business to try and prevent loss of revenue. Delta Airlines lost $150 million in income and operational costs from a technology outage in 2016, not to mention other assumed investment losses on Wall Street. The scale may be smaller for your business, but when you consider overhead with labor, indirect emergency costs and lost income, you start to see the value in a tailored backup solution. Wondering what to do next? Check out our Data Security FAQ blog post for additional insight.
No matter where your data resides, there’s an appropriate backup solution that can be tailored to your specific needs – and Compudyne can help you find the right solution.