The cost of downtime
A single threat can cripple your business. Most, if not all organizations employ data backup strategies to protect themselves from data loss as a result of human error, infrastructure failure or natural disaster. It is the last line of defense and a necessary safety net for smart businesses that understand that experiencing service disruptions is a matter of when and not if. In this article, we seek to help you understand data backup and disaster recovery, when and how each is necessary for your business by considering organization downtime.
We can agree that the need for data backup is non-negotiable for any smart business. This is because data backup ensures that you can recover your data after experiencing loss of data, even if it takes a little time. Data Backup is the first step on the road to recovery but may not cover the full nine yards for all organizations. It is useful for compliance and ensuring that you do not experience complete data loss.
Disaster recovery as a service, however, is a specialized solution whose main focus is recovery speeds. Unlike backup which involves making copies of data and storing them offsite, disaster recovery as a service involves replication. Replication not only ensures copies of your data are available, but also your business-critical systems, applications, and processes in an offsite location which can be a data center, colocation facilities or the cloud.
When is Backup and/or Disaster recovery relevant?
To help answer this question, you must ask yourself the following;
- What is the nature of my data? Is it critical?
- Are my organization’s systems critical for day to day operations?
- How much downtime can my business tolerate before it begins to incur revenue loss?
- In the event of a disruption, can my business tolerate losing some data before restoring operations?
In my opinion, all data flowing through an organization is critical. Organizations must therefore first consider how much downtime they can endure before it begins to impact the business negatively. Also known as the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).
With data backup, in case of a disruption such as a server crash, power outage or natural disaster and depending on the size of your data, restoring the backed up data can take a few hours and even up to 3 days. Even with a cloud service provider, there is little control over how long it will take to restore or download backed up data onto an external hard drive despite having a stable internet connection
On the other hand, some organizations such as banks cannot tolerate any downtime, that is, zero downtime. This means that when a disruption occurs, the organization must have the ability to get back up and running instantly because a few seconds of downtime could mean thousands and even millions in revenue loss. Others can only tolerate up to a few minutes. For such organizations, these recovery time objectives cannot be achieved by data backup.
More specifically, such an organization requires Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). This service is made possible by cloud computing in that service providers replicate your entire production site, from files, systems, applications, to physical or virtual machines to an offsite data center. This means that in an offsite location, your entire production site is available with all changes and addition to data being replicated in real-time or in periodic snapshots. When a disruption occurs, your organization can immediately continue working from the live offsite location until you are able to restore operations. It is an instantaneous process.
Conclusively, it is clear that organization downtime is a critical factor in understanding your organization’s data security needs.
- Data backup only makes one or several copies of your organization data such as files and images
- Disaster recovery as a service replicates your entire production site, that is, files, physical or virtual servers, systems, applications, etc to an offsite location where it is readily available
- Choose data backup if your organization can tolerate downtime for more than a few minutes and up to a day
- Choose disaster recovery as a service if your organization can only tolerate up to a few minutes to zero downtime.
In our next article, we will be looking at the next critical factor in understanding data backup and disaster recovery solutions; your recovery point objective (RPO). How much data can your organization tolerate losing before recovery/restoration?