From the September 2009 Issue
No firm should be at risk when there are failures, large or small. Today’s business continuity and disaster recovery services are affordable and easy to implement. Solutions are available to fit the needs of firms of all sizes, and there is certainly one or more that can fit your firm.
The most common failure issue will still be human errors, internal failures of hardware, or operational issues with software like viruses or failed upgrades. These day-to-day problems may cost you more than a catastrophic failure like fire or theft. Consider planning for normal day-to-day failures as well as the big events when you are doing your Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) Planning. Let’s look at some strategies to consider.
BACKUP AS THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE
Computers can and will fail. Hard drives, system boards, memory and other components have a limited life. It is not a question of if they fail, but a matter of when they will fail. That is the reason most of us have both servers and workstations on routine replacement cycles. The disruption of an unscheduled failure can cost significant time, money, and a loss of data that is far more expensive than the cost of a replacement unit and installation. We also usually get the additional benefit of greater speed when we upgrade our computers.
Backup technology has changed notably in the last few years. Backing up to tape drive and to removable disks still works, but it is far from the most reliable, cost effective or safest way to back up. If you have not reviewed your choices lately in backup, you are in for a surprise with the convenience of web-based backups either as a software-only solution or as a backup appliance.
YOUR COMMON BACKUP CHOICES INCLUDE:
- Web-based backup of files through a browser or locally loaded software
- Backup appliances that can copy files to an Internet hosting facility
- Hard drive backups
- Removable disks – High Rely, USB NAS, etc.
- SAN to SAN replication
- CDP (Continuous Data Protection) appliances
- Traditional Tape drives
There are many competitors in the web-based backup space with the cost of storage varying from 25 cents to five dollars per gigabyte with most falling in the $2/gigabyte range. Common suppliers include the following: Abacus, eFolderBackup, eVault, Global Data Vault, Iron Mountain, NetRescue and ProtectYourDataNow.
A good example product in this category is Abacus. This solution has all of the key elements that we prefer in a web-based backup solution including, but not limited to, extensive security, speed, reliability, customer support and a reasonable price. For example, in security there are two levels of password protection, data is transferred and stored with 128-bit encryption, and the data is restricted by IP address.
The product is fast enough to back up 2 Terabytes of data daily, and has date filtering to version data for 20 years and more. The backup is fully automatic, can back up open files, can back up all major database formats, is replicated to multiple servers, is housed in Montreal, Canada, to help with jurisdictional issues and can do a Brick Level (= individual message) backup and restore for Exchange. Customer support has extended hours, and the data is compressed highly before the charge per gigabyte is applied.
Alternatively, you may want to consider a backup appliance such as the NetRescue appliance or the Xilocore appliance. Backup appliances make a backup of your data every few minutes (I have set my NetRescue appliance to backup my firm’s data every 15 minutes), and you can maintain multiple versions of any file. Optionally, you can backup your data off-site every night or to another location that has an appliance. An additional key advantage to the NetRecue appliance is the ability to run any server that fails on the appliance itself until the server repair can be completed.