With the continual growth in data that all businesses face, the issue of protecting this highly valuable and intangible asset has become a significant challenge to many businesses. Although almost all businesses understand the fundamental need to have a backup system in place, many forget that the manner in which the data is backed up can have a huge bearing on their ability to recover it.
The first important item to take note of when considering backup systems is that in recent years traditional tape based backup systems have become obsolete in the face of cloud based models, which eliminate the labour intensive process of changing and storing tapes. In addition, cloud based models also eliminate the high capital expenditure required for the tapes themselves, for which the number of days of backup is determined by the number of tapes your organisation is willing to purchase.
Tapes also have the drawback of physical vulnerability; even when stored in remote locations the tapes are vulnerable to hazards both in transit and by virtue of being a single copy. Moreover, because tape models use a sequential backup system if one of the tapes in a sequence is corrupt or damaged you may be unable to recover your data.
With most traditional onsite methods still including the use of data tapes, the process of ensuring that reliable backups are maintained, as well as decreasing the time requirements for getting the data back can be quite challenging. However, businesses can now look to leverage the high performance capabilities of WAN technologies to extend beyond the onsite model by using a cloud based solution.
Cloud BaaS systems are more reliable as they store the information in data centres, offering significantly higher levels of virtual and physical security than would otherwise be available. Additionally, the infrastructure holding the data doesn’t require physically moving locations, eliminating transport as a potential point of failure.
The second important item to note when considering backup systems is the difference between Backup as a Service (BaaS) and Recovery as a Service (RaaS) models. Typically BaaS models only allow for the backup and storage of the actual data. This means that in the event of wide scale data loss or system failure you will be able to recover the data, but nothing more. So in order to get your systems operational again you will have to undergo the lengthy process of restoring your operating environment before you will be able to begin recovering your data. Depending on the complexity and size of the affected systems this process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to complete, with the time for a full environment rebuild often not considered in the recovery plan.
Recovery as a Service (RaaS) models differ from BaaS models in that the entire operating environment is backed up, not just the data. As these backups can then be restored on virtual infrastructure (IaaS) the whole environment can be recovered and spun up onto the new hardware in a fraction of the time it would take to rebuild the servers in a BaaS setup.
More sophisticated Recovery as a Service platforms can be offered as combinations of RaaS, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), and Business Continuity Planning (BCP) rolled into one. Businesses should always be sure to check with providers whether this level of service is available.