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24th August 2016 News

Protecting your Business

Whilst the impact on a business of loss of data and communications infrastructure is widely understood, smaller businesses have been slower to develop business continuity plans compared to larger organisations.

There also remains a general lack of understanding over the key difference of Data Backup as opposed to Business Continuity.  Although overlapping, these terms represent uniquely different mind sets when it comes to data protection.

Data Backup / Business Continuity

Data Backup answers the questions: –

  1. Is my data safe?
  2. Can I get it back in case of a failure?

Business Continuity, on the other hand, involves thinking about the business at a higher level, and asks “how quickly can I get my business operating again in case of system failure?”

Thinking about Data Backup is a good first step.  But in case of failure, you have to get that data back and restore it quickly enough so your business doesn’t suffer.

If your Server died, you wouldn’t be able to quickly get back to work if you only had your data backed up.  You would have to:

  • Re-install software.
  • Data re-installed.
  • Configure your system with your settings and preferences.

This process can take hours or even days, but in the meantime, your employees are unable to work.

Planning for Business Continuity

If you’ve planned for Business Continuity, however, you’ve thought of all these things.

You will have thought in terms of two key metrics that underpin effective business continuity: Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

RPO (Recovery Point Objective) is the maximum tolerable period of time in which an Organisation can afford to lose data due to a disaster.

RTO (Recovery Time Objective) is the duration of time within which a business must be restored after a disaster.  This avoids unacceptable consequences associated with a break in Business Continuity.

By calculating your desired RTO, you have determined the maximum time that you can be without your data before your business gets into serious trouble.  Additionally, by specifying the RPO, you know how often you need to perform backups because you know how much data you can afford to lose without damaging your business.

For example, you may have an RTO of a day and an RPO of one hour.  It’s all up to you and what your business requires.  However, calculating these numbers will help you understand what type of data backup solution you need.

Cost of Disruption

Once you determine your RPO and RTO, you can then calculate how much any downtime and lost data will actually cost you. To get an approximate value, answer the following questions: –

  1. Number of employees affected?
  2. What is the average wage of the employee?
  3. Per-hour overhead cost of employees?
  4. How much revenue would be lost per hour?

Simply add up the average per-hour wage, the per-hour overhead, and the per-hour revenue numbers and you have how much a data loss will cost you.

Given that funding and budget constraints can be the top challenge (43 percent) for a business to implement a business continuity solution, calculating your RTO will give you the financial validation needed to justify its purchase and maintenance.

In addition, calculating the real costs associated with data loss (RPO) gives a clearer understanding of the risks relating to business failure and thinking about your business in these terms puts your backup solution into perspective. The ‘it-won’t-happen-to me’ mind-set simply doesn’t wash.

Achieving your desired RPO and RTO

Using local backup for Business Continuity works well for quick restores.  Because the data is right there, it’s fast and easy to restore back to its original location.  What happens if the power goes out or if the device fails?  You might then think the Cloud looks more attractive for all these reasons. However, Cloud-only backup is risky because you can’t control the bandwidth.  Restores tend to be difficult as well as time consuming.

The answer? 

A hybrid solution.  Data is copied and stored onto a local device.  Therefore, if something happens, you can do a fast and easy restore from that device.  Data would be replicated in the Cloud.  So, should anything happen to that device, you will have offsite Cloud copies of your data.  This will eliminate having to worry about moving copies of your data physically off-site.



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