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.
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.
It is critical for an organization to have a true business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place. Call us today 800-208-3617 to talk through your current plan or complete the form below for a free no-obligation assessment of your current backup solution.
With vast quantities of vital data moving through your business, even with limited resources and budget, it is critical for an organization to have a true business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place. This is the only solution to deliver an advanced insurance policy against loss of data and downtime.
Managed Solution has a cost-effective, proactive business continuity solution designed to "failover" through virtualization in the event of an outage. This allows mission-critical systems to remain operational with limited disruption. Public and private businesses are required to follow compliance requirements and retention regulations. Since these laws are continually evolving, how can you ensure your solution continues to meet these ever-changing requirements? Our methodology will assess your existing environment to ensure you've met the compliance regulations specific to your line of business.
Managed Solution provides a Business Continuity/Backup & Disaster Recovery Service to protect your essential data from loss and can prevent costly downtime in the event of a catastrophic server failure. Our cost-effective method offers high availability, reliability, and manageability.
Microsoft is the only major combined IaaS, PaaS and SaaS public cloud provider to enable organizations to meet strict compliance qualification requirements through their Windows Azure and O365 platforms. Instead of qualifying each app individually, the cloud vendor qualifies the one platform to many different standards and certifications. The customer then validates their apps on the cloud vendor’s platform.
Infographic: Azure 5 Steps to a Solid Disaster Recovery Plan
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.
5 steps to a solid disaster recovery plan
5 steps to a solid disaster recovery plan
If your business was about to be destroyed by fire, and you had one minute to save one file, what would it be?
I’d guess not your pictures of Fluffy the cat. But maybe your payroll data or customer order list. A Disaster Recovery strategy defines which data you will save first and what will be available during planned or unplanned downtimes. It also plans for the data you can live without. Poor Fluffy.
Complexity vs. Costs
When you create your Disaster Recovery plan, you’ll need to weigh the trade-offs between complexity vs. costs. What data can you afford to be without? For how long? If you lost some data, would that destroy your business forever?
Five parts of a disaster recovery plan:
1. Recovery Point Objective (RPO). RPO defines how much data you are willing to lose. You can give higher priority to your most critical data, but be willing to lose less important data, such as pictures of Fluffy. Customer records might be top of your list, while marketing data might rank lower.
2. Recovery Time Objection (RTO). RTO weighs how long you are willing to be without your data. Depending on your business, you might decide that you can lose up to two hours of business operation. A shorter time will create higher costs, so you’ll need to consider your options carefully.
3. Personnel. Who should get their data back sooner? Who will support the plan? Do you have a backup person as well as backup technology? Is your plan dependent on human intervention, which may not be possible in all cases?
4. Regulatory constraints. Is your business subject to regulatory compliance? How will you make sure you are covered?
5. Critical data. Which data is critical to your business? What are the dependencies between different areas of the business?
Test and train
Often companies will create a plan, and then leave it on the shelf. They don’t fully test the plan, or consider multiple scenarios. When a disaster hits, whether it’s cybercrime or a hurricane or a rogue sprinkler system, the plan fails. The New York Stock Exchange had a plan before Hurricane Sandy, but they didn’t follow it when disaster hit. Instead, they closed the stock exchange for two days.
Your resources and business needs will change over time. This includes your location, personnel, and data. Testing your plan two to three times a year is one way to make sure the plan is up-to-date and still supports your current business goals.
Once you have a plan in place you’ll need to train all personnel. For a higher chance of success, ensure that senior management endorses the plan and promotes training for all employees.
Get help to create a plan
A cloud solution can help you find a good balance between cost and complexity. With Azure Site Recovery, you can easily create disaster recovery plans in the Microsoft Azure portal. The disaster recovery plans can be as simple or as advanced as your business requirements demand.
We’re here to help you with all stages of strategy, planning and implementation.
Did you take a wrong turn on the road to disaster?
Did you take a wrong turn on the road to disaster?
Can you find your way back if you take a wrong turn on the road to disaster? If disaster strikes, recovering from it could cost you thousands of dollars, plus lose your customer’s good faith.
Having a plan to save your business from bad things will help you get back on track.
Most businesses rely on technology to run their day-to-day processes. Think email, Word docs, customer information and ordering systems, inventory, accounting. Other companies are all about the tech. Think Uber, Airbnb, Constant Contact and many others.
So, if something disastrous happens, your business could grind to a halt, whether tech is your main business or ‘just’ how you get your work done every day. What could go wrong? Well, there's floods. Plus, electrical storms, hurricanes, fire and people who leave with your passwords or source code. Without a backup plan, your business could be in trouble.
What’s included in a plan?
Disaster plans can cover everything from how to get out of your store or office during a fire drill, to how to get back up and running if your servers are underwater.
Then, you can take it a step further. If you think about staying in business during a disaster, as well as recovery, you’ll be in the best shape you could be.
While it’s important to customize a plan for your business, every plan should include:
* Technology asset inventory that names mission critical processes and data
* Schedule for updating and testing any disaster recovery plans
* Clear understanding of the trade-offs between cost and complexity
Murphy’s Law says that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. That’s why it’s important to understand how your plan works. If you are a business decision maker, you might hand this over to your IT team. But it’s important to ask some questions to make sure you have full coverage for your business. A few questions:
* Does your plan include an inventory of mission critical business processes and data?
* When was the last time anyone reviewed your plan? Tested your plan?
* Is cyberattack preparedness included in your current plan?
* How much depends upon human intervention?
Evaluate Cloud Solutions
During a disaster, humans have other priorities than failing over their virtual machines. Automating your solution is key to ensuring success.
A cloud solution can help you recover quickly. And it’s less expensive than having your own datacenter to support and protect. It’s a practical solution for a business, whether it’s large or small. But it makes especially good financial sense for a smaller organization.
Not all cloud providers are equal, so you’ll need to do some research to compare. A few considerations:
* Do they offer a hybrid solution, so that you can keep some data on premise as well as in the cloud?
* Do they offer metered service so that you can save even more money by ‘turning off’ services when you don’t need them?
* Is the service easy to use, with good support for your team?
* Do they offer geo-redundancy?
* Are they compliant with your industry?
Is the cloud safe?
But wait a minute, you might say. I’ve read about companies, even big companies, losing data in the cloud during a disaster.
It’s true, there have been times when the cloud failed companies. When this happened, it was because the data was only stored in one location. And it was based in the same region as the company. That’s an obvious mistake.
With the Microsoft cloud, you can get ‘geo-redundancy.’ This means that your data is in more than one location. So, if your area is hit with a hurricane, along with floods and electrical storms, your data would be safe in a datacenter across the country.
That also means that your company data is available even during the storm.
Steps to take
1. We’d love to meet you and discuss your plans for keeping your business running. If you’re ready right now, call us or send an email. We’re happy to set up a free consultation to review your plan.
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United Airlines Uses Azure Site Recovery to Build a Disaster Recovery Solution
United Airlines Uses Azure Site Recovery to Build a Disaster Recovery Solution
To address the need for an enterprise-ready disaster recovery solution, in June 2013 United Airlines joined the Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) for Windows Server 2012 R2. “Now that we are more virtualized, we are looking at a whole new approach to DR, where flexibility and cloud computing combine to provide a resilient solution that we can tailor to meet our needs,” says Wilson. “It made sense to continue on our cloud journey with a Microsoft DR solution.”
Hyper-V Replica offers a data replication solution that replicates virtual machines within a site or to a remote site. The latest version of Hyper-V Replica provides the flexibility that United is looking for, with variable replication frequency—from 30 seconds up to 15 minutes—and support for extended replication to a third site. And the new DR management service, Microsoft Azure Site Recovery, answers the airline’s need for a highly available DR solution because it is delivered as a cloud service running in the Microsoft Azure environment. Azure Site Recovery offers orchestration at scale delivered via recovery plans, so United IT staff can bring up applications in a desired manner at a low recovery time objective. While Azure Site Recovery is a feature of Windows Server 2012 R2, it supports backwards compatibility with all versions of Hyper-V Replica.
With Azure Site Recovery:
Safeguard complex workloads against outages
Support heterogenous environments (including Hyper-V)
Leverage computer resources
Reduce infrastructure costs by migrating workloads to Azure
Using Azure as a destination for disaster recovery eliminates the cost and complexity maintaining a secondary site, and replicated data is stored in Azure Storage, with all the resilience that provides. Site Recovery provides test failovers to support disaster recovery drills without affecting production environments. You can also run planned failovers with a zero-data loss for expected outages, or unplanned failovers with minimal data loss (depending on replication frequency) for unexpected disasters. After failover you can failback to your primary sites. Site Recovery provides recovery plans that can include scripts and Azure automation workbooks so that you can customize failover and recovery of multi-tier applications.
Managed Solution is a full-service technology firm that empowers business by delivering, maintaining and forecasting the technologies they’ll need to stay competitive in their market place. Founded in 2002, the company quickly grew into a market leader and is recognized as one of the fastest growing IT Companies in Southern California.
We specialize in providing full Microsoft solutions to businesses of every size, industry, and need.
Learn more about professional services provided by Managed Solution
To Learn More about Professional Services, contact us at 800-208-3617
Hurricanes, floods and earthquakes: How to keep data safe
If your data lives with you on-site, it’s vulnerable to natural disasters. Keeping your data in the cloud, or using the cloud as a backup, helps protect your data from local events.
Most cloud services offer geo-redundant data centers. This means that they back up your data to more than one location. Here are four scenarios where the cloud makes a difference to your business continuity:
Hurricanes and tornadoes
If your business is in a hurricane or tornado zone, you might use ‘hardening’ to protect your servers. A hardened data center has hurricane shields for all windows and doors. The data center is on an upper floor and equipped with flood precautions such as pumps.
But, as Hurricane Sandy proved in 2012, even the best facility designs do little for protection when in the storm’s direct path. The storm tested the value of cloud services, colocation, and redundant facilities, proving that data is more secure when not tied to a single location.
Data center providers know how to protect infrastructure. “Racks need to be bolted down and use seismic restraints. The facility must have multiple layers of redundancy,” writes Jason Verge for Data Center Knowledge.
“While the facility may navigate through an earthquake, it’s the outside infrastructure that poses the biggest threat,” writes Verge.
Even if the data center provider is well-prepared, damage due to unexpected disasters can put data at risk. Verge recommends that data center customers have a second deployment outside of known fault zones.
One threat you might not think of is solar flares. During a solar the sun flings large amounts of energy and particles into space. If this discharge hits the earth, it can damage and destroy electrical systems. It is like an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
Precautions for geomagnetic storms are the same as for other disasters. This includes backup power supplies and a disaster recovery plan.
The most common reason for floods is sudden and unexpected rainstorms. And with the rise in sea levels, there is even more risk of floods in our future. If a data center is in the wrong place, even the best-made plan might not be enough to keep it online.
Companies outside of regular flood zones should also take note. Even dry Phoenix experienced record-breaking flash flooding following the largest single day’s rain ever.
According to Tony Surma, CTO of Microsoft Disaster Response, “Information is a basic need in disaster response. It's right up there with food, water, and shelter. That is driving use of the cloud.”
When data is stored in the cloud, companies can “rapidly deploy resources on demand and accommodate large spikes in traffic. This is regardless of local conditions,” says Surma.
Data Loss: Risk Management, Backups, and Disaster Recovery By George Fedoseyev, Server Engineer, MCSE
Data Loss: Risk Management, Backups, and Disaster Recovery: By George Fedoseyev, Server Engineer, MCSE: Server Infrastructure
Throughout my consulting career, I have always viewed business continuity as one of the main areas of focus. It does not matter whether we are working with a home user or a large corporation – the customer’s data integrity has always been and will be priority number one. It is imperative to pause your day to day operations and find the time to think about the potential consequences of ignoring your backups, not having disaster recovery, or performing risky activities.
It always surprises me the amount of unnecessary risks the IT departments take. When performing system cutovers, migrations, and upgrades it does not take much to check on the status of the backups for the systems one is working on. In the unfortunate circumstance when the backups are not adequate before the scheduled migration, the migration or any activity should be postponed until the backup situation is resolved. Often IT departments are under heavy pressure from other business units to deliver under strict deadlines; however, data loss should never be allowed to occur. As a Server Engineer at Managed Solution, we strive on providing the highest quality work and minimizing risks. I am proud to state that Managed Solution has great guidelines to mitigate risk when it comes to backups with our BDRs, practices to check backups prior to cutovers, and overall awareness of the situation. I am happy to see engineers back out of risky projects and put a hold on cutovers involving risks of data loss until the underlying issue is resolved.
Every business should view their backups as the cornerstone of IT. Go to your IT department right now and ask them how confident they are in their backups and how much backup history can your existing system provide. Are you satisfied with the response? If you are a small or medium size business, or even a large one, the answer might be no. Why is this the case? Why do businesses often ignore the most crucial aspect of IT operations or do not invest enough to make sure that their business is resilient to data loss? This is the question that we often ask our clients when planning to build out their environments. Under certain conditions a poorly timed backup and server failure can cause irreparable damage to the business or even force it to close its doors for good. It is strongly encouraged to re-evaluate your backup and disaster recovery plans as often as possible and to ensure that they are aligned with the business needs.
“Hey, I’m mitigating risk according to best practices and my backups are in good shape. I got my bases covered.” I’m sure we are all happy to hear that from any client. There is a small culprit, however. Where will the backups be restored to? Is there enough server resources available to absorb the full load of another failed server? How long will it take a vendor to deliver another server to your location, if not? What are your options if your primary file server with 5 TB of data goes down? How long will it take to restore all that data? All of these questions should be considered and discussed with stakeholders before the disaster strikes.
When any IT professionals follow risk management, backups, and disaster recovery best practices, they can come out looking like heroes in an otherwise very poor-looking situation. These practices will reduce the amounts of business productivity and financial losses, stress, and overnight repairs. Do not wait until it is too late, learn on mistakes of others, and prevail and prove your system is ran by a true professional!
About the author:
George Fedoseyev is a server engineer with over ten years of experience working in Information Technology field. Most of his professional career George has worked with as a managed service provider focusing on infrastructure, messaging, and SharePoint design and implementation. Originally from Saint-Petersburg, Russia, George has moved to sunny San Diego in the early 2000.