Highly Effective Backup Strategies in a Hybrid Environment
It's not raining cats and dogs, it's raining data everywhere! Most data is sensitive and needs to be strictly guarded. Loss of data can be a fatal mistake for a business, so IT has a very important job to protect it. As companies expand and start-ups take the plunge, they need to be extra careful in protecting data. No matter the number of mechanisms you put in place and the number of precautionary steps you take, data protection is only as good as your best backup strategy.
Thanks to technology, there are many ways in which you can get an effective backup for all your data, both on-premise and in the cloud. One of the best practices followed in backup methodologies is the 3-2-1 rule. This rule advices all businesses to have three backups stored on at least two different kinds of media with one copy being stored off-site.
Prerequisites to Effective Backup
There are three main prerequisites to having an effective backup strategy.
1. Identify Sensitive Data - All data is not equally sensitive. Some of it is redundant so it's not really needed. The first thing to do is to identify data that is really crucial to the running of the business.
2. Segregate As Per Priority - Now that you are aware of what is critical, it's time to sort it in the order of priority. The data which is on top of the ladder has to get maximum attention. As you go down, the data will become less and less sensitive but will still need extra care.
3. Know Your Third-Parties - There are many other people who have access to your data. Maybe not to all of it, but some of it. It is advisable to thoroughly check out all the third-parties and also access their security setup and backup measures. In the long run, this will make your work of data protection a lot easier.
Backup Strategies in a Hybrid Environment
Creating backups on hard drives and keeping them under lock and key is an age-old method to preserve data. Though it sounds like a good idea, this method is no longer sufficient. What are the options available today and which of those are really effective? To answer this question let's study some backup methods.
1. On-Premise Vs Cloud - There was a time when organisations had their own servers. Some even have them today, but the numbers are very less in comparison to previous years.
These companies would create backups on their own servers. If you have strong firewalls and other precautionary measures in place, creating backups on your own servers is a good idea. In hindsight, all the data is now in one place, so a person who gains unauthorised access into your server will have everything at his disposal to create mischief.
The “cloud” is a good option as your data is stored in a virtual world and relatively hard to access. It does not involve your servers and can be accessed from anywhere. A good backup strategy would be to divide the data and save some of it on your servers while keeping the remaining on the cloud.
2. Cloud to Cloud Backup - Instead of keeping all your beers in one esky, you can distribute them into different ones. You take the data from a production environment and store it in another public cloud environment. Data in one cloud is backed up and stored in another cloud. Effectively speaking, you separate the fault domains for your backup data and production data. The key to having an effective backup strategy in a hybrid environment lies in data separation.
3. Snapshot Backup - A point in time backup is known as a snapshot. It is almost like clicking a picture of all your data at a given point in time. Cloud backups, in reality, are a snapshot. Creating a virtual image of your machines allows hassle-free roll back to the last saved snapshot.
4. Full Backup Vs Incremental Backup - As the name itself suggests full backup is when all the data is backed up. When you are creating a backup for the first time for any source it makes sense to do a complete backup. To create the entire backup again and again as you move ahead in time is a wasteful activity. It also impacts your efficiency as you continue to do redundant work. After you have created a full backup what you need to do is have incremental backups. In incremental backups, only the changes since the last complete backup are saved. In the cloud, storage has a value. In such a case, having incremental backups is advised.
5. Versioning - It is also important to have backup versions available. Say you updated software to its most current version. When you did that, unknowingly you made some changes to a file which contained some important data. The problem due to these changes did not arise immediately but after some time. In such a case, if you have backed up the older version, you will be able to recover the file with the original data where no changes have been made.
Once you know which kind of backup strategy suits your business the most, you can go ahead with it. The important thing to consider here is Restore Point Objective (or RPO). This is the amount of data that a business can lose and yet withstand its repercussions. In business terms, it would mean losing say 90 mins of data because your automatic backup happens every 89 mins. The other thing to consider is the Restore Time Objective (or RTO). This is the time take for the RPO to get restored. Based on this information you can even choose how often you want the backup procedures to run automatically.
In The End
In the end, backups are essential for all businesses. In the hour of need, they will become your saving grace. However, creating backups is a costly affair. You need to fully analyse your needs prior to deciding what needs to be saved. The most effective backup strategy is that where data is prioritised and all information is not saved in a single location. Separate the locations and backup just what you need!
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