What to Consider in Developing a Data Backup Strategy

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Data backup is one of the most critical IT functions, but it remains a major headache for many organizations. Ever-increasing data volumes have made it difficult to complete backups within the available window, and an “always-on” IT environment hinders IT’s ability to take systems down to perform backups.

Virtualized servers further complicate backup. When multiple workloads are running on the same piece of hardware, resource contention becomes a serious problem. At the same time, growing numbers of virtual machines mean there’s more data to be backed up and backups need to be completed more frequently.

Backup solutions continue to evolve to meet these changing demands. However, the lack an overarching backup strategy prevents many organizations from taking advantage of them. The first step in easing backup pain is to understand the limitations of the existing environment and develop a plan for implementing new technologies and procedures.

The data backup assessment should consider the following:

  • What is the current state of data in your organization? Start by gaining an understanding of how much data you create and where it is being stored. What data is being backed up, and how often?
  • How should backup processes be prioritized? Mission-critical data should be the top priority in any backup strategy. Dormant data should be archived and removed from backup processes insofar as possible.
  • What are your business requirements for data protection? It is important to define your recovery time objectives (RTOs), the maximum time allowed to recover data, and your recovery point objective (RPOs), the maximum age of data you’ll need to recover. Make sure your expectations for RTO and RPO are in line with your business processes and objectives.
  • What should your backup and recovery processes look like? When will you perform backups, or are continuous backups needed? How can you achieve at least two levels of redundancy in different geographic locations? How can data be accessed and restored if needed?

A data backup strategy will begin to emerge from the assessment, and that will drive the development of policies and procedures. From a technology perspective, organizations can choose from on-premises and remote backup solutions. Each offers benefits and tradeoffs.

On-premises data backup gives you complete control over your data, and faster recovery of files that have been lost due to system failure or human error. However, there is an upfront investment required for equipment, and because everything is in the same location, a site disaster could knock out both of your data sources.

Remote Backup-as-a-Service requires no capital investment for equipment. A service provider installs software on systems that require backup, which encrypts the data and automatically replicates it to the service provider’s secure facilities. The service provider is responsible for monitoring and maintaining your data backup system. And because data is saved at a different location, it can be recovered in the event of a site disaster.

Whichever option you choose, backup processes should be automated as far as possible. At the same time, it’s important to test backups to ensure that data is truly recoverable.

Data backup doesn’t have to be a headache. With the right strategy and technology, the process can be simple and efficient. Let IPC help you assess your environment and implement a backup and recovery strategy that makes good business sense.