No network, device, or cloud system is immune to catastrophe. Every organization faces potential data corruption and loss—whether from malicious attackers, equipment failures, accidental deletion, or all three.
Hence the need for backup and disaster recovery services.
Also known as DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service), this is a managed solution that makes copies of critical data and saves them for speedy restoration. The solution is typically implemented and managed by a provider, often as part of cyber security managed services.
While every organization needs backup and recovery services, you’ll want to understand what’s available so you can choose a provider that fits your needs before disaster strikes. Here’s everything you need to know.
1. When do backup and recovery services come into play?
Data loss can occur for numerous reasons, both non-malicious and malicious. In the malicious category, attackers may infect systems with dangerous software like:
Even if your systems aren’t under attack, you can lose data due to:
- Accidental deletion
- Hardware failure
- Software failure
In all these cases, backup and recovery services provide a recent backup that can restore the system and/or data in question.
2. What systems are typically covered in backup and recovery services?
DRaaS solutions typically cover every system where catastrophic data loss could occur. That includes:
- Other connected devices
Some common business systems aren’t usually included in a DRaaS solution. These systems typically come with backup and recovery services from the software vendor or the implementor. These systems include:
- ERP solutions
- Specialized SaaS software
- Other cloud systems
That said, you should talk to your DRaaS provider if you have specific needs.
3. The power of backup and disaster recovery
Why do you need backup and disaster recovery?
Simply put, this service can spell the difference between catastrophe and business as usual when the unthinkable happens. Here are the high-level benefits of a DRaaS solution.
Protect existing revenue
How much money does your company bring in every day?
Consider an organization with $50 million in annual revenue. On average, this company brings in $136,986 per day.
That’s $136,000 lost in a one-day outage.
Clearly, you need to restore essential systems fast to protect revenue.
Minimize operational downtime
Outages create a negative financial impact from the cost side as well. Financial obligations like utilities, salaries, and corporate debt repayment don’t get paused when disaster strikes.
Backup and recovery services ensure that your business starts running again fast, with minimal impact to operations.
Protect data from corruption and loss
In one sense, data is one of the most valuable assets your organization produces. Every work-hour that your team puts in creates essential data.
Ultimately, that data has to live on a hard drive. It may be an on-premises server, a PC, or a cloud server—but there’s always a hard drive involved.
Backup and recovery services ensure that your data stays safe and healthy for as long as your business needs it.
Protect your customer relationships
Customers are the lifeblood of any business. And the deeper your customer relationships, the more vulnerable they are to damage from a catastrophic outage.
Backup and recovery services help you bounce back quickly from a disaster. This ensures that your products and services stay available—and customers can go on doing business with you.
Protect your reputation
Unfortunately, in today’s climate of high-stakes cybersecurity, every organization is only one incident away from a damaged reputation. Recovery services ensure that when the unthinkable happens, you resolve the issue quickly and minimize reputational damage.
4. Defining your backup and recovery strategy
Establish your goals for backup and disaster recovery
When you’re setting up your recovery process, you have three options for how you’ll handle a disaster:
- Restore the data
- Restore the system
- Restore both
It’s worth auditing your organization’s systems and determining which route you should take. Having these goals defined ahead of time will help you work out your needs with a DRaaS provider. That said, if you don’t know what should be restored, your provider can conduct this audit and advise on your DRaaS setup.
What type of availability do you want from your provider?
When disaster strikes, what’s the easiest way to contact your DRaaS provider? While most recovery services companies will offer phone, email, and ticketing systems, make sure you’re getting the type of availability that works best for your team.
How fast should recovery occur?
Remember our $50M company (above) that makes $136,000 per day. Look at this in terms of your own revenue and consider how quickly you need to restore essential systems and data.
Our example company makes $5,700 per hour. On average, even a one-hour outage for an essential system has a non-trivial impact on revenue.
Once you determine how fast you need to recover, you can approach providers with more detailed requirements.
Where will you store backups?
Your disaster recovery provider will most likely offer several service options for backup storage location.
- Local virtualization
- Offsite virtualization
Typically, the best plan is to store backups both onsite and offsite. If a natural disaster destroys all onsite storage devices, offsite storage will save the day. This is why we recommend implementing both onsite and offsite storage.
How will you communicate with affected customers?
When disaster strikes, you don’t want to scramble to communicate with customers.
Ideally, you should have your communication plan fleshed out already—even if it’s just a basic outline of what you’ll say to whom. Your disaster recovery provider can advise on best practices in communicating outages.
5. If you already have backup and recovery services…
Congratulations! You’re in a much better place than a company that doesn’t have a DRaaS solution.
That said, it’s worth evaluating your current provider against your evolving needs. These questions can help.
When was the last time you tested your backup process and results?
If it’s been a while, you should probably run through a drill of restoring a backup. The results may be illuminating.
Ultimately, you’re looking to get the data restored within the specified time (see below). But you should also consider the interaction with your provider. How fast were you able to get a real person on the phone (or a response to a ticket or email)? How did that interaction go? Make sure that you’re still able to place complete trust in your provider.
When an onsite disaster occurs, is there an offsite copy?
If your backups are only stored onsite, in the same location as the system being backed up, you have a problem.
At the very least, you should ask your current provider about offsite backups. Once you add offsite into the mix, you can bounce back more easily if an entire office or datacenter is wiped out by a natural disaster.
Is your current downtime interval acceptable?
There are two things to consider here.
- Is your current SLA still acceptable?
- Is your provider’s actual response time in line with the SLA?
Consider the cost of downtime that we discussed above, both in terms of lost revenue and lost productivity. If you need more, don’t hesitate to push your provider to meet your needs.
It’s also worth asking your provider if you can do a dry run to test the process (and their reaction and restoration time). Your provider should do what it takes to give you confidence.
6. What to look for in a managed DRaaS provider
Able to meet or exceed your backup interval needs
A good provider should offer a wide range of recovery packages. Make sure you can get your systems restored in the interval you need.
Multiple backup storage locations
Here at Corsica Technologies, our backup and recovery services include 3 servers per client. One is typically onsite, while two are located offsite in datacenters—one on the east coast, one on the west coast.
This way, if one location is destroyed, there are still two more servers ready to deploy the latest backup.
Size of workload that the DRaaS solution can handle
Make sure you know what kind of heavy lifting your servers and PCs are doing. For example, if you’re backing up database servers, they may handle significant workloads. A good DRaaS provider should scope this out as part of the project—and they should have an answer for how they’ll handle servers with heavy workloads.
7. The takeaway: Find a DRaaS provider that knows your needs
Server workload, recovery time, and communication availability are essential considerations when you’re evaluating DRaaS providers. Make sure you understand your organization’s needs and how a provider will meet them (or not). Ultimately, the best DRaaS providers will put your needs front and center. In the long run, that’s what matters most.