In an increasingly digitized world, data backup is vital for survival of a business. You carry the risk of data loss and data hacks as you are always on the internet. You have the potential to lose your data by theft to your competition.
Insider threats can delete your valuable digital wealth. Ransomware threats can cause a huge amount of damage to your data.
What is the Impact of Data Loss?
To understand the potential impact of disasters on businesses, and the importance of having a data backup solutions as part of a complete disaster recovery plan, consider the following statistics:
- Cost of downtime—according to Gartner, the average cost of downtime to a business is $5,600 per minute.
- Survival rate—another Gartner study found only 6% of companies affected by a disaster that did not have disaster recovery in place survived and continued to operate more than two years after the disaster
- Causes of data loss—the most common causes of data loss are hardware/system failure (31%), human error (29%) and viruses, and malware or ransomware (29%).
Can you recover from a data loss? If you say No! Then surely you need to have a Data Backup.
What is Data Backup?
Data back up is a practice that involves making a copy of your live data on some different media so that in the event of the primary data or media getting corrupted, you can get your data back from the secondary media.
Ideally, you should copy data to one or more locations, at predetermined frequencies, and at different capacities. You can set up a flexible data backup operation, using your own architecture, making use of your own organization's remote locations OR simply making use of the available Backup As A Service providers who can manage your operations.
Is it essential to have a Data Backup Strategy?
Data is the new oil. It is the digital wealth and most critical intellectual property of both an individual and an organization. The modern digitized world has made it difficult to survive without data. Even for making a phone call today, we depend on our phones to remember the numbers for us.
For corporate organizations, all business transactions happen on digital databases. With the world doing almost everything on the internet-based applications, no one can actually know what is exactly stored in their databases until a report is taken out.
Corporates also need to follow compliance needs wherein an old version of data may be required for legal litigations and other compliance needs.
So, it is extremely critical to have your digital assets protected and copies retained for a long period.
Data backup includes the following important concepts:
- Recovery Point Objective: RPO is the amount of data an organization is ready to lose if a disaster strikes. Actually, no one wants to lose any data and therefore the data backup strategy needs to be planned accordingly. A zero data loss scenario would mean online replication. This would help to achieve a near-zero recovery point objective.
- Recovery Time Objective: RTO is the time that an organization needs to recover its data and be back in production. Organizations need to plan a time frame in which they should be back in production. Robust solutions are required to keep the RTO low.
- Backup Schedule: Copying data out of your systems can impact your production system momentarily. It is therefore important to decide when do you want the backups to start and within what time should they end before they start impacting the system performance.
- Retention Policy: Retention policy is the most critical component of backup infrastructure. It becomes even more critical for organizations that are looking for organizations that follow compliance guidelines as retention policy defines for how long you want a particular backup copy to be retained with you. You need to know from the business perspective what their commitment to the data user is on the retention of backups.
- Online backup data: Online backup data ensures that the data in use or being currently worked upon is getting backed up consistently. Databases need to be backed up online integrating with respective APIs. File backups need to enable services like VSS to be able to backup online.
- Backup Automation: You cannot always copy data manually, especially beyond a particular size. Automation is the key to any backup solution. Deploying flexible data backup software solutions is the key to this. Hardware appliances do not offer the same flexibility. Choose your destination and let the software manage the automated activities.
- Backup Destination: Backup destination is another most important component of the overall backup strategy. In a typical standalone environment, you could go for external drives and manual copies but in an enterprise environment, you need to carefully choose this. You have the options to choose the tape devices, disk devices, or cloud backup service.
An external tape device is a good option for large volumes in small size tapes but the tapes are not really very reliable media and there is a lot involved in managing large volumes of media in an organization.
A disk device type with additionally offers deduplication is a better option. However, there is a limit to how many disks you want to provision so you again either need to rely on tapes to retain older backups or replicate the long retention copies to remote locations for compliance reasons.
A cloud backup strategy could manage it better. No tape media dependency and a strong advantage is that the data is saved in a remote location. Choose the one that has the capability of retaining local copies for quicker recoveries and cloud copies for compliance. Ensure the highest levels of encryption for safety. The service provider who offers Backup As A Service with complete end-to-end management of the backup operations.
Backup As A Service solutions are easy to use and have the strong advantage that data is saved in a remote location. If using a public cloud, you need to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards, and consider optimizing data storage costs in the cloud over a period of time.
- Restoration: Restoration is the key component. In fact, restoration is the purpose of backups, so you should; keep your backup and restore processes handy. Test your data restoration plans as frequently as possible. Ensure a calendared backup restore drill so that when actual data backup recovery is required, you are not testing your processes.
- Security & Compliance: Data backup security consideration is important to ensure that no one can simply extract your data from the backups, even the backup software itself. Keep encrypted backups for utmost security. Ensure that your backup processes and storage systems follow the compliance guidelines. Check for the applicable guidelines for your industry and get it validated that your solution meets the required compliance standards.
Data backup Onsite or Offsite - Which one to Choose
It is good to keep your data backups close to you. This has been a popular belief justifying the faster recoveries and safety of backups. You would choose to make additional copies to create an offsite data backup.
However, with ever-changing times and threats to your own network, this model has changed. You should now have an offsite backup as an essential part of your backup strategy. Even just having a replicated backup copy may not suffice. Develop a strategy wherein data from one Data Center is backed up to another Data Center.
With offsite copy on a different network, you have a level of protection from ransomware attacks as well. In the event of an attack on the primary network, the backups stay isolated and recoverable from the secondary network.
Another good way to ensure an offsite copy is to deploy a cloud-based backup model. The approach should have the option to keep local backup and cloud backup at the same time. This reduces the impact of backups on the production systems and ensures a safe backup copy on the remote network.
In an ideal scenario, data backup should be both onsite and offsite and be flexibly deployed to meet your recovery & compliance requirements. Retain the latest backup copies locally and let the complete retention by offsite
As per our experience, you need a quick recovery of data generally of the last 3 months so you can keep backup copies beyond 3 months offsite only as the recovery SLA for older versions
What does it mean to take Online Backups?
Online backup data is the approach where you backup data in use. Traditionally, you had the luxury of offline or cold backups. Shut down the database for new transactions and take a backup. DBAs relied a lot on a weekly cold backup to ensure consistency.
The luxury of shutting down the database for a while is no more available so online backup is a definite necessity. The backup application integrates with the database APIs to take database backups online. Virtual backups are taken directly from the hypervisor and an image of the virtual server backed up. This ensure a full consistent Virtual backup & recovery.
You need to make sure that all data is backed up in online mode. Even file data is backed up with services like VSS working to pick up the files in use.
The 3-2-1 Approach
A 3-2-1 backup strategy is a method for ensuring that your data is adequately duplicated and reliably recoverable. In this strategy, three copies of your data are created on at least two different storage media, and at least one copy is stored remotely:
Three copies of data—your three copies include your original data and two duplicates. This ensures that a lost backup or corrupted media do not affect recoverability.
Two different storage types—reduce the risk of failures related to a specific medium by using two different technologies. Common choices include internal and external hard drives, removable tape media, or cloud storage.
One copy off-site—eliminates the risk associated with a single point of failure. Offsite duplicates are needed for robust disaster and data backup recovery strategies and can allow for failover during local outages. Traditionally tapes are moved off-site for a remote copy and are called back in event of a recovery request.
This strategy is considered a best practice by most information security experts and government authorities. It protects against both accidents and malicious threats, such as ransomware, and ensures reliable data backup and restoration.
There are various ways to implement this approach:
- Backup to Tapes and Clone tapes for off-site movement: A traditional approach where only tapes are used for backups and tape sets are copied to make remote copies.
- Backup to disk and replicate it to a remote site: Deploy a disk appliance on-premise and backup your data on this. Replicate this appliance to a remote site to maintain an off-site copy. Needs bandwidth and additional replication cycles but works well for off-site copies.
- Cloud based backups: Deploy cloud strategy and let the solution make a local backup as well as a simultaneous cloud backup so that you have that extra copy with you available remotely. Cloud being on a separate network gets you safety from Ransomware threats as well. So, Cloud backup prevents losses from Ransomware.
Backup Storage Technologies
Backup software is the key to automating the entire process. All the backup configurations, schedules, retention policies and backup destination are defined using the backup software.
A wide range of backup softwares are available to help you achieve this.
Small solutions that can backup only individual systems to external disks to enterprise solutions backing up PBs of data on different devices are available. You need to lay down your requirements and decide the solution that fits the best.
The key deciding factor for choosing the backup application should involve:
- Supports Latest Technologies
- Ease of operations
- Web-based management
- Ability to report backup infrastructure health
- Regular technology enhancements
While the software helps collect the data from endpoints and production systems, the hardware destination is equally critical. Three key solution options include:
Tape BackupsThis is the traditional backup approach. That's where we all started from. A drive is connected to a server and data is pushed onto the removable tape media for backups. Tape technology has grown over the years from a small 12 GB tape to TBs in a single tape scenario. The rapid adoption of IT and increase in data size led to this evolution & growth of tape technology as well. This has been coupled with tape automation which brought in numerous tape media available in one device leaving manual intervention to only replacing media once in a while depending on your sizing.
While tape media life is still a concern, tapes are good for moving them out for offsite storage. They can be shipped off-site to any distance without incurring much cost. Tape backups have been used for decades, but their obvious downside is the high RTO and RPO due to the slow speed and offsite movement of media. They also require a tape drive and an autoloader to perform backup and recovery, and this equipment is expensive.
Disk-Based ApplianceDisks came as an obvious option for tapes. Provided the extra disk mirroring & RAID protection and much better RPO & RTO, disks have been more reliable as a backup device. The off-site movement was initially aided by the tapes. Back up on disk, retain the latest versions on disks, and move the compliance-related versions to tapes for off-site movement.
With added adoption of disk-based backups, new features like deduplication came in. Deduplication ensures that the same data blocks are not backed up again. They are backed up only once and only changed blocks are backed up subsequently. This further improved the RPO & RTO requirements for the enterprises. For the traditional tape users, Virtual Tape Libraries were introduced which emulated tape library functionality on disk-based storage giving the benefits of RAID, tape handling mechanisms & deduplication. It also added the capability to replicate tapes to remote virtual tape libraries for smooth off-site movement through replication. Capacity planning becomes a key in tape backup & disk appliance solutions as you need to provision disk resources and tape media accordingly.
Cloud Based BackupsCloud backups have been in place for a decade now. This is where you push your backups to preferably a public cloud. A private Cloud would still not be a real cloud as you end up provisioning your resources yourself in a remote office. Public Cloud eases off the infrastructure development and upfront cost required for setting up the backup environment. The cloud backup service provider offering cloud data backup services i.e. BaaS will provide the required compute and cloud storage with redundancy to store your backups.
Cloud Tiering will help you reduce your cloud costs wherein you can perform data migrations of older backup generations to cloud archive storage and optimize the cost of cloud backup. All you need is a server in your network to collect data from other servers in the Data Center and process data before moving it out to the Public Cloud. Key functions to be looked at include deduplication & compression and finally encryption before it moves out of the Data Center. Encryption is the key to ensuring data security.
At Ace Data, we provide Backup As A Service as a fully managed backup service moving your critical data to the public cloud while retaining local copies for quick recovery. Be it file data or online databases, we backup the entire infrastructure including end-users, servers, applications, and virtual backups. The service comes as a fully managed backup service with our 24x7 NOC team monitoring the backup cycles & troubleshooting the failures. Daily, weekly, monthly, and compliance-based reporting customized to your needs is provided and our team engages with your audit team to answer their queries. Our data management services help you access the lifecycle of your data and help you in data tiering to cloud storage provide you optimized data management services with affordable and easy to manage solutions.