3 Best Practices for a Solid Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

Our modern day society wouldn’t even be imaginable today without computers and the Internet. The world is so interconnected that sending a message from one part of the globe to the other is possible within seconds and sometimes even fractions of a second. This is how fast the world we live in today works. However, this speed does not come without costs. Although cheap to the regular day-to-day consumer, this speed of information transfer is at a tremendous expense for companies which continually invest in their IT departments to make communication between them and their clients possible at any time and a solid backup and disaster recovery plan is extremely vital.

When dealing with clients, no matter if you’re operating in the Business to Business (B2B) sector, Business to Client (B2C) sector, or both, every IT Director, VP of IT, CIO, CTO, CEO, CFO of a company operating in the financial industry should keep this in mind.

 

It’s Better to Prevent Than to Fix

Like in most industries, the financial services sector makes no exception. It is always better to prevent than to fix because when you’re operating in finance, one mistake could cost the company a fortune, or it could even mean the end of it.

To be sure that in case of any cyber-attacks or an unfortunate system crash your company’s and your clients’ data is safe, you need to implement constant backups for each operation your company undertakes. It means paying particular attention to details and having efficient software to deal with thousands of transactions (if not millions) each day.

Always Get the Latest Information from Your IT Department

In the case of a disastrous event for your company, the first department that must be contacted is IT. Make sure that the Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is up to date and check the latest updates with the person in charge of supervising it, as it may be crucial to your company’s fast recovery.

Anything starting from a hacker attack to a hurricane can ruin your entire system and make it crash for minutes if not hours on end. Your Disaster Recovery Plan needs to have an analysis of all possible threats, natural or human-caused, and an action plan equipped with tasks for each IT specialist in the event of such a disaster takes place.

Having a strong updated DRP can make the difference between companies losing none, or close to none of its data, funds, and clients; and a company losing everything within minutes, hours or days.

Have a Safety Net Through an IT Management Company

The difference between having your own IT department undergo the best practices for a reliable backup and disaster recovery plan and outsourcing this service is that with your employees you are dealing with people who work on different fronts, thus dividing their attention, as opposed to an IT management company which oversees this process strictly.

Having the solid backup and a disaster recovery plan updated to the latest best practices in the field is a crucial aspect in running any business, whether we’re talking about the financial sector, biotech, healthcare or even non-profit organizations. Everyone is at risk if specialized people are not focused strictly on making this task a priority.

Most of the times, it only takes a few minutes or hours without having a reliable backup or a well-structured disaster recovery plan for the information to be leaked to the press. When this information reaches the public, your company’s stock, credibility, and reputation drop immediately, even if you eventually manage to solve the problems without any severe damage to your clients and their accounts.

Conclusion

However, it takes years to build a reputation and just a few moments to ruin it, so why take the chance? If you’re interested in learning more about best practices for solid backups and disaster recovery plans, be sure to visit our website or contact our specialists for more details and any questions you may have.

Infographic: Azure 5 Steps to a Solid Disaster Recovery Plan

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Ever wonder how your company would function during a catastrophic data loss? Ninety percent of executives agree they need a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan, so why put your business at risk any longer? Download this infographic and learn the 5 steps to a solid disaster recovery plan with Microsoft Azure.


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Guidance for running Elasticsearch on Azure

elasticsearch on azure - managed solution

Guidance for running Elasticsearch on Azure

By Masashi Narumoto as written on azure.microsoft.com
Elasticsearch is a scalable open source search engine and database that has been gaining popularity among developers building cloud-based systems. When suitably configured, it is capable of ingesting and efficiently querying large volumes of data very rapidly.
It’s reasonably straightforward to build and deploy an Elasticsearch cluster to Azure. You can create a set of Windows or Linux VMs, then download the appropriate Elasticsearch packages to install it on each VM. Alternatively, we published an ARM template you can use with the Azure portal to automate much of the process.
Elasticsearch is highly configurable, but we’ve witnessed many systems where a poor selection of options has led to slow performance. One reason for this is that there are many factors you need to take into account in order to achieve the best throughput and most responsive system, including:

•The cluster topology (client nodes, master nodes and data nodes)
•The structure of each index (the number of shards and replicas to specify)
•The virtual hardware (disk capacity and speed, amount of memory, number of CPUs)
•The allocation of resources on each cluster (disk layout, Java Virtual Machine memory usage, Elasticsearch queues and threads, I/O buffers)

You cannot consider these items in isolation, because the nature of workloads you are running will also have great bearing on the performance of the system. An installation optimized for data ingestion might not be well-tuned for queries, and vice versa. Therefore, you need to balance the requirements of the different operations your system needs to support. For these reasons, we spent considerable time working through a series of configurations, performing numerous tests and analyzing the results.
The purpose was to illustrate how you can design and build an Elasticsearch cluster to meet your own requirements, and to show how you can test and tune performance. This guidance is now available in Azure documentation. We provided a series of documents covering:
•General guidance on Elasticsearch, describing the configuration options available and how you can apply them to a cluster running on Azure
•Specific guidance on deploying, configuring, and testing an Elasticsearch cluster that must support a high level of data ingestion operations
•Guidance and considerations for Elasticsearch systems that must support mixed workloads and/or query-intensive systems
We used Apache JMeter to conduct performance tests and incorporated JUnit tests written using Java. Then we captured the performance data as a set of CSV files and used Excel to graph and analyze the results. We also used Elasticsearch Marvel to monitor systems while the tests were running.
If you'd like to repeat these tasks on your own setup, the documentation provides instructions on how to create your own JMeter test environment and gather performance information from Elasticsearch, in addition to providing scripts to run our JMeter tests.

Azure Site Recovery & Backup

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Azure Site Recovery & Backup

As statistics go, it’s telling.  Ninety percent of executives recently surveyed agreed that they needed a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan. Is your organization one of the 90 percent still without a BCDR plan? If so, we can help.

Drive Business Results Through Microsoft Azure Site Backup & Recovery (ASR)

Simple, Automated Protection: With Azure Site Recovery, protect Hyper-V, VM Ware, and even physical servers. Orchestrated recovery of services in the event of a site outage at the primary data center. Create multiple recovery plans to fail over only certain applications when you have a particular failure in your data center. Test Recovery with Confidence. The Test Fail-over feature ensures you have confidence in the recovery solution and meets SLAs for your business. Perform planned fail overs with zero loss of data when you know about a disaster situation in advance.

capabilities of BCDR plan

Did you know...

According to research by the University of Texas, only 6% of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss survive, while 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years. ASSESS, ENABLE, and CAPTURE with your business' Azure Site Recovery plan. Call 800-208-3617 to get started!


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Azure Backup security capabilities for protecting cloud backups

Azure Backup security capabilities for protecting cloud backups

By Pallavi Joshi as written on azure.microsoft.com
More and more customers are hit with security issues. These security issues result in data loss and the cost of security breach has been ever increasing. Despite having security measures in place, organizations face cyber threats because of vulnerabilities exposed by multiple IT systems. All these and many such data points pose very strong questions – Are your organization’s IT applications and data safe? What is the cost of recovering from the huge business impact in case of cyber attacks? If you have a backup strategy in place, are your cloud backups secure?
Currently, there are over 120 separate ransomware families, and we’ve seen a 3500% increase in cybercriminal internet infrastructure for launching attacks since the beginning of the year” points out a recent CRN Quarterly Ransomware Report. To mitigate the threat of such attacks, FBI recommends users to regularly backup data and to secure backups in the cloud. This blog talks about Security Features in Azure Backup that help secure hybrid backups.

Value proposition

Malware attacks that happen today, target production servers to either re-encrypt the data or remove it permanently. Also, if production data is affected, the network share as well as backups are also affected, which can lead to data loss or data corruption. Hence, there is a strong need to protect production as well as backup data against sophisticated attacks and have a strong security strategy in place to ensure data recoverability.
Azure Backup now provides security capabilities to protect cloud backups. These security features ensure that customers are able to secure their backups and recover data using cloud backups if production and backup servers are compromised.  These features are built on three principles – Prevention, Alerting and Recovery – to enable organizations increase preparedness against attacks and equip them with a robust backup solution.Azure Backup Security Principles

Features

  1. Prevention: New authentication layer added for critical operations like Delete Backup Data, Change Passphrase. These operations now require Security PIN available only to users with valid Azure credentials.
  2. Alerting: Email notifications are sent for any critical operations that impact availability of backup data. These notifications enable users to detect attacks as soon as they occur.
  3. Recovery: Azure backup retains deleted backup data for 14 days ensuring recovery using any old or recent recovery points. Also, minimum number of recovery points are always maintained such that there are always sufficient number of points to recover from.

Getting started with security features

To start leveraging these features, navigate to recovery services vault in the Azure portal and enable them. The video below explains how to get started by enabling these features and how to leverage them in Azure Backup.

What is Azure Backup?

What is Azure Backup?

Azure Backup, an enabling technology of Availability on Demand, is a scalable solution that protects your application data with zero capital investment and minimal operating costs.

Save up to 80% with cloud backup

*Based on the Gartner study, published in February 2014, comparing TCO of cloud backup to tape backups.
Access full report

Power of backing up to Azure

Data is the heart of any organization and backing up this data is a key part of a business strategy. Azure Backup is a scalable solution with zero capital investment and minimal operational expense.

Protect your critical assets wherever they are

Your data and applications are everywhere—on servers, clients and in the cloud. Azure Backup can protect your critical applications, including SharePoint, Exchange, and SQL Server, files and folders, Windows servers, Windows clients, and Azure IaaS VMs.

Compelling alternative to tape

Due to business or compliance requirements, organizations are required to protect their data for years, and over time this data grows exponentially. Traditionally, tape has been used for long-term retention. Azure Backup provides a compelling alternative to tape with significant cost savings, shorter recovery times and up to 99 years of retention.

Secure and reliable

Your backup data is secure over the wire and at rest. The backup data is stored in geo-replicated storage which maintains 6 copies of your data across two Azure datacenters. With 99.9% service availability, Azure Backup provides an operational peace of mind.

Efficient and flexible

Azure Backup is efficient over the network and on your disk. Once the initial seeding is complete, only incremental changes are sent at a defined frequency. Inbuilt features such as compression, encryption, longer retention and bandwidth throttling helps boost IT efficiency.