Backups And Disaster Recovery Are Not The Same Thing

Ed Dryer

Backups And Disaster Recovery

Most business owners are aware of the consequences of losing data. Much of the value of a modern business is in its data: customer records, analytics, marketing data, product catalogs, bookkeeping and accounting data, emails and other communication data — the full list would consume several paragraphs. Serious data loss incidents cost businesses millions of dollars per year and some businesses don’t survive the loss.

The case for backups is clear. The chances of permanent data loss are significantly reduced if a business has secure, up-to-date, offsite backups. Backups are a necessary component of risk reduction, but backups aren’t the whole story. To be useful, data requires infrastructure.

What Is Disaster Recovery?

It is comforting to know that your business’s data is safely backed up when an incident takes resources offline, but without redundant infrastructure to run applications and services, business will grind to a halt until replacements can be found or repairs made. Depending on the size of your business, downtime may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars an hour.

Infrastructure service interruptions aren’t all that unusual. There were several major incidents last year in which large cloud providers suffered outages due to DDoS attacks, technical issues, and power blackouts. Businesses with critical infrastructure hosted on those services paid the price in lost revenue and customer dissatisfaction.

Disaster recovery complements a comprehensive backup process by ensuring that redundant infrastructure is available should the worst happen. A solid disaster recovery plan (and having a regular schedule to test it) will allow a business to quickly transfer workloads to redundant infrastructure with minimal disruption to operations.

A typical disaster recovery process looks like this: an outage at an infrastructure vendor causes servers running business critical applications to become unreachable. Redundant infrastructure in an unaffected location is quickly activated and failover systems automatically transfer load to those systems. With comprehensive file, database, and virtual machine backups, the redundant infrastructure can seamlessly take over and, from the perspective of an employee, nothing changes.

Disaster Recovery Planning

Effective disaster recovery requires risk assessment, planning and, testing. Business leaders must understand the infrastructure failure risks their business faces. They must plan for outages and infrastructure service interruptions. Redundant infrastructure should be ready to take over when disaster strikes. The whole system should be thoroughly tested in advance: it is a bad idea to wait until an incident to discover a shortcoming in the disaster recovery plan.

Disaster recovery planning is an ongoing process. As your business grows, its disaster recovery needs change. An out-of-date disaster recovery plan is about as useful as an old backup.

Do You Need A Disaster Recovery Plan

Most business owners understand the need for backups, but we come across far too many who think that a backup is all that’s needed to protect their business from disaster. Backups alone are effective in some data loss scenarios, but a significant proportion of data loss incidents are caused by infrastructure failures. Disaster recovery planning and data backups are the twin pillars of an effective business continuity strategy.

By Ed Dryer

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