Too many businesses are under the misconception that merely backing up their data will insulate them from disaster. While many executives scoff at businesses that don’t have backups at all, those same managers don’t realize the false sense of security they’re under just because they have data backup systems in place.
A joint study conducted by Hewlett-Packard and SCORE found that 70% of firms that experienced a catastrophic data loss went out of business within 1 year.
This same study also found that companies that experienced a computer outage of more than 10 days never fully recover financially, with 50% of them closing their doors within five years.
So, how can you go out of business even if you have backups of your data? The answer to that question depends on two things: your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and the type of recovery system you employ.
Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
RTO is a company’s targeted time within which systems must be restored after a catastrophic event in order to avoid unacceptable loss. In other words, what is the maximum time you can do without your IT systems before you go out of business?
Many companies, especially small businesses take their computer systems for granted and never think about the consequences of prolonged outages. Sure, it’s annoying when computers break down and you need to get them fixed, but your computer guy has always been able to fix them quickly. What if he can’t?
Ask yourself this important question—if a disaster occurs, how long can my business survive without my computer network?
The answer to this question is the key to the type of recovery systems you ultimately employ to protect your company. The answer also involves some deep analysis on your part, for instance:
- Have you performed a Business Impact Analysis and defined critical and non-critical functions within your company?
- Do you know the business requirements for each critical function and the technical needs to get them up and running after a disaster?
- Have you identified the various threats that can come your way, such as: natural disasters, hardware failures, software malfunctions, security threats, utility outages, fire, flood, etc.?
- Do you have a planned IT response for these scenarios?
Be realistic with your answers. We’ve asked many business owners what their tolerance for down time is and they’ll say something like, “I can’t be down for more than a few hours.” Then they’ll insist on a data backup solution that has a minimum recovery period of three to five days because it’s the least expensive option. It just doesn’t make sense.
When disaster strikes, the chief enemy is time. If your business is not ready to serve your customers soon after a catastrophe, a better prepared competitor will be more than happy to fill in.
Recovery Systems—they’re not all created equal
There are mainly two types of backups: data backup and image-based backup. Both can be employed locally, in the cloud, or both. If you do not match your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) to the type of recovery system you employ, you can literally go out of business before you have time to recover from a catastrophic event.
Data Backup Systems saves only data such as Microsoft Word and Excel files. You need a source program like Microsoft office to open and use them. Data backup does not save source programs or Operating Systems. It is also very slow, saving and restoring files one at a time. Local backup systems are a little faster while cloud backup speeds depend on bandwidth.
Typical time to recovery can be between three and five days if the backup process goes without a hitch; longer if problems occur, which frequently happens in large-scale restorations. In order to restore a server with a data backup only system, you need to:
- Replace or repair hardware
- If the Operating System and data were wiped out then the server must be reconfigured and system and data files reloaded
- Reinstall it and make sure all have access to the network
Imaged-based backup systems are much more comprehensive and are considered Business Continuity solutions. Image-based systems take a picture or snapshot of a server including the Operating System, source programs as well as data files. During recoveries, full images of the server are reapplied back onto the repaired or replacement hardware, making restorations much quicker.
Image-based solutions are fast, reducing recovery times to hours and even minutes. They leave little to chance and frequently consist of an onsite device to capture full snapshots of a server for quick local restores and simultaneously sending copies of those backups to cloud data centers located on opposite sides of the country for added security and redundancy.
If a problem should occur with a server and the onsite systems are intact, full server operations can be switched to the onsite device in a matter of minutes allowing the company to function business-as-usual until the hardware is fixed or replaced. If the equipment is damaged in a disaster, full server operations can be switched to one of the cloud data centers until the problem is corrected.
The answer to the question, “Can you go out of business if you have only data backup?”
Yes, if your business cannot survive without access to its computer network and the information it holds for the length of time it takes to re-provision or fix the equipment, configure the repaired or replacement server, and then finally install and connect employees back onto the network. With data backup, you can expect to be down for at least three to five days, maybe longer depending on the circumstances.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, image-based Business Continuity Solutions can reduce downtime to hours and even minutes. Which system would you rather have protecting your business?
|Joseph Imperato Jr. is a partner with XSolutions, a Managed Services Provider (MSP) specializing in Managed IT and Business Continuity solutions. Download our FREE, Excel-based Disaster Plan template to quickly and painlessly create a written disaster plan for your business. Call us at (845) 362-9675 to find out how our image-based Business Continuity solutions can help your company survive the next disaster.|