Disaster Recovery aka The End of Conventional Backup
I often hear the question when I am visiting with prospective clients: “So do you guys do backups?” My tendency is to (want to) say: “Backup? It’s not about nor has it ever been about the backup! Any idiot can do backup – the real trick is in the restore!” And by restore I don’t really mean restore. I mean disaster recovery and in some cases, business continuity during a disaster recovery.
I should qualify that. Application recovery, mail store or database recovery, server recovery and site recovery – heck, even basic file recovery all qualify for the “disaster recovery” moniker. After all, losing any of the above is a disaster; no one has ever asked us to recover a file that was of no value – I mean, why would you? So the real value to the client (and the poor sot who accidentally deleted the all financial statements and spreadsheets) is in the recovery. So how well is your company setup to deal with disaster?
An impromptu survey based my own experiences (with absolutely zero empirical evidence) is that most are woefully ill-prepared for even the smallest of disasters – if there is such a thing as a small disaster. So when potential customers ask me if we “do” backup, I ask them to define backup. Predictably, I get a mish-mash of different technologies ranging from tape to portable disk to backup servers to cloud-based backup with an equally predictable failure rate in terms of its ability to assist the client in times of need. Tape fails more often than it works, and along with portable USB drives, requires almost daily intervention which comes in the form of swapping out tapes and hard drives, restarting dodgy software, and troubleshooting a myriad of error messages. Relying on daily human intervention is folly if you consider there is a very high degree of likelihood the disaster was caused by human error in the first place. Spot the fault!
Those who have some form of online backup think they have it solved but they often don’t which is way scarier that actually knowing you didn’t get it right in the first place. You ever see how long it takes to pull a terabyte of files down through the web? Ever try a bare metal server recovery over the web? I have – it ain’t pretty especially with the CEO breathing down your neck when he sees that the “solution” you sold him didn’t solve anything. Just because you have all your data doesn’t mean you can actually use it. Where you going to put all that intellectual property when your office is a pile of smoldering rubble? That barely even qualifies as disaster recovery let alone business continuity.
So here’s what you need (finally!) if you want to be able to continue to fight the good fight when the worst happens: At a bare minimum, you need local backup for quick restores of lost files, folders and even entire servers. You also need to have a way to get that data offsite (securely) in case of theft, fire, flood or <insert disaster here>. And finally, in keeping with all good disaster recovery and business continuity plans, you need a way to virtualize your entire operation in the cloud so that if your site becomes unavailable for any reason, your business doesn’t miss a beat (translation: no lost customers and no lost revenue irrespective of the severity of the failure).