Preserving the past: The art and science of data restoration

The nature of disaster recovery is changing. The increased risk of cyberattack, hybrid working and dispersed platforms are altering how organisations assess the impact of downtime. Rather than burdening overstretched internal IT teams, businesses are quickly realising that multi-cloud environments require a cloud-smart approach and an updated business resilience and DR strategy.

Creative CTO, Rob Smith, explains how to protect against data loss in the face of toughening regulation with solutions such as Disaster-Recovery-As-A-Service.


What is data recovery?                                

While it’s essential for organisations to retain information for legal and compliance reasons, as remote working and data centres grow, so too does downtime risk through security loopholes. Big data has given rise to more virtual machines (VMs) with complexity compounded by multiple vendors and technology siloes. Add to that natural disasters, power outages, and human error and it’s clear to see why every business should have robust data recovery processes in place – and be certain they work when needed.


Regular backups are an intrinsic DR element. However, this isn’t the same as an effective strategy. A backup is merely a data copy. A DR plan is the insurance that guarantees recovery within the shortest window possible.


That means planning, testing, and managing DR regularly – weekly or even daily – to protect snowballing data amounts. Many organisations struggle because they simply don’t have the time or IT resources. Others are discovering their DR plans fall short because traditional solutions weren’t conceived to deal with current IT architectures.


How data recovery works

Effective DR means protecting an IT estate across on-prem and cloud environments. The first step is a comprehensive audit to understand and catalogue existing data and applications – and where they reside. However, as those assets become larger, increasingly complex, and include multimedia, keeping track becomes ever more difficult.


A solid DR strategy should include:

  • Risk assessment and planning
  • Business impact analysis
  • Strategy development
  • Data backup and replication


Measures like training and awareness and testing and documentation should be complemented by continuous monitoring and improvement. Recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) are important for business impact. RTO is the time it takes to bring systems back online with recovered data after an event. RPO is the closest point in time before a disaster occurs to which data can be recovered.


When will you need data recovery?

Failure to put DR procedures in place can itself result in penalties, so understanding how to comply with resiliency standards is essential. Viruses, malware, and ransomware are a few scenarios when data restoration might be evoked. Systems also need protection from incidents like accidental file deletion and incompatible third-party software.


Yet a Zerto study found 46% of financial services companies hadn’t tested their DR solutions for six months plus, while 87% struggled to orchestrate alerts from multi-vendor security products. Also, data migration and M&A projects cause IT teams to continually verify and update records.


Another significant challenge is dark or unstructured data. According to a recent Enterprise Strategy Group report 47% of all organisational data is dark, with a fifth of respondents putting that over 70%. And the situation is likely to get worse as 60% said more than half of data wasn’t captured or even known to exist.


What is Backup as a Service?  

In response, many are adopting Backup as a Service (BaaS) enlisting support from a managed service provider (MSP). As well as keeping data accessible and restorable from a remote location in case of an outage or failure, BaaS offers a simple solution for outgrown legacy storage and avoiding costly upgrades. Or if clients lack resources for on-prem backup and want to lose the headache of rotating and managing tapes or hard disks at an offsite location.


What is Disaster Recovery as a Service?

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) complements BaaS by adding powerful capabilities like server image and production data replication, DR run-book creation, automated server recovery, automated server failback, and virtual desktop infrastructure. To maintain DR plans, regular testing is a must. Expert DRaaS providers add value by deploying technology that allows no downtime while testing during working hours.


BaaS and DRaaS from Creative

Creative’s Backup as a Service is managed onsite, remotely, or as a mix of both, with our team of data specialists taking care of everything. Our clients typically choose the service to protect valuable customer, financial and employee information – wherever it lives – on physical servers, VMs, containers, PCs, laptops, smartphones, and SaaS cloud-based applications.


Some VMs may only need backing up occasionally, others may need replicating daily or hourly to a warm standby for fast failover. Creative specialists help set the rules to automate this, along with single pane-of-glass dashboard reporting. BaaS also offers hidden savings from consolidating software licences and eliminating reliance on other IT providers.


Creative’s Disaster Recovery as a Service features industry leading RPO assurance. In a DR incident, our platform offers near real-time replication, for just seconds of data loss rather than hours or days. BaaS and DRaaS pay back in lots of ways. Without significant CapEx investment or the expense of running a 24/7 secondary DR site, Creative clients eliminate hardware, software, and resource costs.


Our experts work to understand their granular requirements and provide a tailored service where premium protection and recovery speed is only applied to critical infrastructure needing it – with slower recovery SLAs for elements where business impact would be less.


Creative clients don’t have to shell out on tape drives and redundant servers. And they save on backup storage media, transporting it for remote safekeeping, and time spent troubleshooting. Finally, there’s the assurance of predictable monthly expense and high burst capacity, with advanced background tools constantly checking information is always restorable.