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Top Disaster Recovery Strategies for Small Enterprises

By CIOReview | Tuesday, May 23, 2017

As with large-scale enterprises, a disaster recovery strategy is imperative for small and medium businesses alike. But in the first place, one must understand why a backup plan is necessary for any business to thrive. To start with, backups help in restoring whatever data was affected thereby saving the enterprise from creating the entire operation or application from the outset. Besides, if any key component of an enterprise system is out of action, it will impact the growth of the enterprise as a whole.  Furthermore, in today’s fast-paced business ecosystem, customers in general assume providers to be on hand 24/7. This is when a backup strategy comes in handy.

The market today is replete with numerous small business backup optionsdirect attached storage (DAS), network attached storage (NAS), disaster protected storage, online/ private cloud backup solution, and offline media being a few. Depending on the requirements, these options often vary from business to business. In some cases, more than one option can be integrated to create an ideal solution that fits the need of a particular organization.

While devising a backup strategy, enterprises must consider the volume of data that in question, the number of storage locations that they hold, and most importantly, the cost estimate. If an enterprise is strong in their budget, a business cloud solution is most likely the best option. In contrast, if the enterprise comprises a massive bulk of data, cloud backup might not be as suitable. In the second case, a more feasible option could be the synchronization of a chain of NAS devices over the web or VPN. An alternative to this is to invest in a tape drive that facilitates off-site storage of vital information on tape cartridges on a daily basis.

Coming to the methodology aspect, there are two fundamental ways of creating backups—image-level and file-level. Image-level backups are effective when a business wants to protect an entire system at one go. By leveraging a continuous recovery model, this method of backup renders access to quick recoveries locally as well as remotely. On the other hand, file-level backups, as the name suggests, goes best with file server backup. In addition, it can also serve as a means to backup a database for a given application, also called application-aware backups. Such backups smartly capture all the relevant datasets vital for restoring an application thereby simplifying file-level backups.

On the technology edge, a major challenge with small businesses is that they fail to define what needs to be recovered and how. The obvious reason is that most enterprises opt for the solution even before identifying the disaster they are going to counter. For instance, if a business is merely concerned about its files being lost, conducting image-level backups is unquestionably illogical and vice versa. To avoid such scenarios, enterprises should establish some criteria around what the supposed recovery approach needs to look like, specific to each data set, application, and system. The list begins with recovery time objective (RTO), which is the amount of time required for executing the backup, followed by recovery point objective (RPO) which stands for the target capacity of data lost. The final criterion is the maximum tolerable period of disruption (MTPoD), which is taken into account in case the enterprise happens to skip its RTO.

This procedure applies to every dataset or system that needs to be recovered, beginning with the most critical in a descending manner.  Once you realize the RTO and RPO of your website, you can easily transfer your current file-level backups to an image-based continuous recovery set-up. To be precise, the backup strategy for small businesses should initiate with delineating all the datasets while also recognizing the disasters that they are responding to. The next step entails which dataset is being backed up accompanied by the plan to recover. At the least, what small enterprises can do is signify the type of backup, the datasets to be recovered, the dependencies to be aware of, and lastly, post-backup measures that need to be taken.