September and October 2017 are two months that won’t be soon forgotten. September brought us Hurricane Harvey, devastating the Texas region. A few weeks later came Hurricane Irma, causing havoc in Florida, followed by a catastrophic earthquake in Mexico and Guatemala. Next came Hurricane Maria, flattening Puerto Rico and a good part of the Caribbean. In October, and still burning in some places as you read this article, California was devastated by wildfires up and down the state.
These natural disasters reinforce the fact that an incredible amount of planning is necessary far in advance of unplanned events so you don’t end up being another casualty. That goes for city, county, state, school and family planning, as well as businesses planning for emergencies.
No matter how big or small your organization, as part of your overall disaster preparation you need a well-thought-out disaster recovery plan. The cloud is critical to keeping important company data safe during a natural disaster. If your organization were to be affected by a natural disaster, cloud backup may fail to restore your physical infrastructure, but it can do exactly that for your data. There’s no time like now to look at cloud backup.
A great cloud backup solution is, by definition, a form of disaster recovery for your data. The largest of today’s enterprises already have effective, but highly expensive, disaster-recovery plans with multiple tiers of data backup, generally including the cloud or at least data stored off site.
Small and medium-size businesses, however, may lack this luxury or the budget for it. For their data, cloud backup is the best and sometimes only way to protect information and applications in a natural disaster.
Just as it sounds, disaster recovery (DR) is technology designed to protect a business in a major crisis, whether it is a system meltdown, natural disaster, fire, or once-in-a-lifetime hurricane, earthquake or wildfire.
DR promises a full and total recovery of data, but it doesn’t always guarantee how long that recovery will take. With the cloud, however, you know all the data is there and will return as fast as your connection allows—even to a different location, which is critical when the devastation is widespread.
DR relies on full offsite backups of all your data and applications: so-called image backup. In the early days, these backups were often on tapes that were delivered to off-site locations such as those run by Iron Mountain and others. And presently, the off-site backup is usually in the cloud.
The Cloud Takes the Guesswork Out of Backup
On-premises backup, either tape or disk, takes a lot of planning, manual intervention, management and troubleshooting. The cloud essentially removes all that complexity.
Once you’ve established a relationship with a cloud backup provider and decided on what you want to back up, the backup schedule and your restoration requirements, the provider takes over. The provider ensures the backups are performed correctly and on schedule. In a disaster, the customer’s data is safe, securely held far from the affected area.
Even if they somehow survived the crisis, tape and even disk-based backup and recovery are prone to failure. By contrast, cloud-backup providers are dedicated to backup reliability and security. They try to pick the best hardware, equip it with the best software, set proper policies, lock it down with security solutions and hire experienced security pros.
Moreover, the cloud makes it far easier to test restores, so you know they’ll work when you need them.
Backup can be intensely complex. As a result, keeping backups current to restore the data you need quickly and precisely is difficult. The right cloud backup solution makes this work easy by letting IT and service providers easily manage the machines under their control, monitor service levels, and set alerts and storage quotas. Even better, they make getting your data back easy.
Cloud backup can help ensure your backups are done properly. The technology often uses policy-based automation to ensure your backups take place regularly and at the right time. You can set alerts to let you know when a backup has successfully completed or, equally importantly, when it hasn’t.
Whereas file-based backups only handle the data, cloud backup creates a backup image of your complete system state so the system, not just the data, is restored. Meanwhile, these system backups can be replicated off site for even deeper protection.
Fast and Flexible Cloud Disaster Recovery
Using a cloud DR solution, businesses can back up entire machines to recover them instantly (including recovering all VMs), or back up volumes, directories and individual files for more-specific, efficient protection. What’s more, with cloud-backup integration, a business can quickly define backup policies by organization, machine group or device type. Simple, comprehensive dashboards, alerting systems, and flexible reports mean that you always have real-time insight into the status of all backup activities.
A smart cloud backup offers benefits to IT and service providers alike. Managed-service providers, for instance, can increase their service portfolio by offering multiple backup and recovery flavors to clients—and have the added value of integrated security and management. With the richness of the solution, they can set and meet backup SLAs to ensure the speed and freshness of recovery.
In summary, it’s never too early to plan for a disaster. Visit the American Red Cross to learn more about donating to help out those affected by recent natural disasters, to give blood, to volunteer and more.
About the Author
Mike Puglia brings over 20 years of technology, strategy, sales and marketing experience to his role as chief product officer at Kaseya. He is responsible for overall product strategy, management and development across Kaseya’s solutions. Before his current position, Mike served as Kaseya’s chief information officer.