“Less is more,” does not apply when it comes to backups and redundancy. A more fitting idiom would be, “better safe than sorry.” With uptime being critical to a successful business, it is important that you are backing up data, and have redundant IT infrastructure in place to keep you running if an outage were to strike.
Redundancy and backups are both necessary for any successful business IT strategy, but most enterprise leaders do not understand why both are needed, much less have the proper setup in place.
When it comes to customer data in your SaaS solution or patient healthcare data, it is important that there is always some way to restore it so that you do not suffer from excessive downtime, or worse, become noncompliant with certain regulatory agencies (depending on the industry you operate in).
Your current disaster recovery solution, or lack thereof, could be putting your company at risk of being in violation of regulatory laws. Thankfully, we will cover the importance of backups and redundancy and provide steps to get your IT infrastructure where it needs to be.
What Does Redundancy Mean to Your Business?
Redundancy is an engineering term that means “the duplication of critical components or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability of the system, usually in the form of a backup or fail-safe, or to improve actual system performance.”
To be clear, there are a variety of ways your business’s IT should consider redundancy. Below are four ways your IT team should be thinking about redundancy when it comes to your disaster recovery plan:
What if a critical device on your network breaks or goes down? You might find yourself at a complete work stoppage. Employees’ productivity would take a hit and customers would miss out on doing business with you. Every moment of system downtime translates into very real financial losses in the form of revenue, diminished brand reputation, and missed opportunities.
Network redundancy is the process of adding additional instances of network devices and lines of communication to help ensure network availability and decrease the risk of failure along the critical data path. Having redundancy by providing additional pathways through your network via redundant routers or switches would ensure minimal downtime and complete continuity of your services.
Redundancy is built into all LightEdge data centers. Our facilities are designed to weather nearly any conceivable incident with very minimal downtime. This is important to look for when vetting out colocation providers. If one geographical area experienced a disaster or outage, then it could seamlessly switch over to a different facility and still maintain 100 percent uptime.
LightEdge always recommends acquiring space with two or more of our seven-world class facilities to guarantee that your critical IT infrastructure never goes down.
Executing true N+1 redundancy planning can place an enormous burden on the budgets and workloads of IT professionals. By switching to colocation, your organization can maintain control over your data while tapping into the redundancy of professionally designed N+1 cooling, power, and data protection.
What happens when the power goes out? Will your servers be turned off? Do you have a backup power supply (a generator, for instance) that specifically keeps critical hardware running? Colocation facilities do.
If your IT team simply plugged your server into an outlet, you likely would not be running anything when the power goes out. Your IT team needs to be evaluating your backup power supply and have procedures in place for when to use backup power.
All LightEdge facilities have redundant power and cooling, geographically diverse central offices, and access to multiple data network carriers.
Do you know what would happen if a tornado or flood were to hit your building and you have everything (your backups, servers, workstations) all inside? Most often, geographic redundancy is important for how your data is backed up.
If it is only backed up in one location, say at your local office, and a disaster strikes wiping out everything in that office, the backup is probably gone. Having a redundant backup in an entirely different location will allow you to recover quickly with little downtime.
Your company’s disaster recovery plan should already identify a fail-over location for your data in the event your current location is inoperable.
What Do Backups Mean to Your Business?
Backups describe the process of creating and storing copies of data that can be used to protect organizations against data loss. A backup is the process of duplicating important data like documents, data, network configurations, or anything that your business needs to stay operational.
These backups take place at specific, regular intervals and are stored off of your network. These backups make sure that your organization can go back in time and retrieve important data or files in the event you lose or cannot access them for any reason. Instances that would warrant documents to be backed up include:
- Files were deleted on accident
- Computers or servers crashed
- Systems were infected with malware or other breach methods
- Audit purposes & recording
- Preventing a dip in productivity and profit
Why You Must Backup your Files
Businesses in every industry heavily rely on all types of data to run efficiently. While software can be reinstalled, it may be difficult or impossible to recreate your original data or reconfigure your complex network.
It is essential that your IT team backs up your data regularly and has a plan in place for recovering your data in the event something happens. Cyberattacks, computer crashes, corrupted and wiped files, and stolen hardware can all be instances where backed up data ensures nothing is lost. Make sure your IT team backs up and tests their backups to make sure when you need to restore something, you will actually be able to.
Offsite backups are necessary in the event of a physical threat, like a major hardware failure, accident, or natural disaster, because you will need to be able to retrieve your information. If all of your backups are located in one spot, whether that be on-prem or in the same facility, you are exposing yourself to a loss that may be impossible to recover from.
Offsite backups can take a few different forms. One is quite literally making a local backup on a disk and then delivering it to another geographic location. While it is ensured you have a backup made if you do it locally, the due diligence required to make sure the media is physically being delivered to wherever it is being stored may be considered a hindrance.
The other, more secure possibility is to perform the backup over the network, and have it downloaded at another location. This also negates the possibility of the physical media failing as it is transported.
Regardless of the solution chosen, offsite backups are a must across all industries. PCI DSS requires companies to “store media backups in a secure location, preferably an off-site facility, such as an alternate or backup site.”
Offsite backups should always be used to complement whatever local, quickly deployable backup solution your organization is using. They are also a key part of your company’s business continuity strategy and disaster recovery plan.
Redundancy and Backups are not Equal, but are Equally Important
While the concepts of backups and redundancy may seem similar, there are a few important differentiators. Backups are specifically about creating copies of data in the event that your business experiences an incident where data loss occurs.
Redundancy, on the other hand, is much more than just data storage. Redundancy makes sure your business is able to provide continuity in its services no matter what happens. Redundancy ensures your data is stored in multiple geographically disparate locations.
Just because your business is redundant, does not mean that everything is backed up. If you were to delete a critical piece of data from your network, having a redundant server will not help you get that piece of data back.
Having both backups and redundancy contributes to your business running smoothly. Backups make sure if something is lost, corrupted or stolen, then a copy of the data is available at your disposal. Redundancy makes sure that if something fails, you are able to work regardless of the problem.
Is your IT team making sure your important files are backed up? Are they testing your backups? Does your network have enough redundancy to make sure that if something breaks, it does not cause a big work stoppage?
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Business continuity planning can be the difference between a successful business and a failed one in the face of a major disruptive event.
The combination of data loss and downtime costs businesses an exorbitant amount of money. According to a study conducted by EMC Corporation and Vanson Bourne, that combination costs businesses around the world about 1.7 trillion dollars annually.
Business continuity affects the structure of your organization as a whole, but your disaster recovery plan specifically should be data-focused to mitigate damage.
It is necessary to have a variety of backups made and stored in several locations for the continued success of your business, as well as, any legal or regulatory issues that may arise.
Your business can never be sure when a disaster might occur. If one does, how much downtime is acceptable? Every second the power is out, or your servers fail, means huge financial and reputational losses for your organization. With a disaster recovery or business continuity service in place, you do not have to worry about this.
Consider this: 93 percent of companies who lose their computer systems for 10+ days due to a disaster, file for bankruptcy within one year, according to the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration. In most cases backups alone are not enough. Redundancy and backing up files is essential.
Get the Right Redundancy and Backups with LightEdge
What would happen to your mission-critical infrastructure and data if a disaster were to hit this very second? Are you prepared? If not, or if you’re in need of a better disaster recovery solution. Thankfully, LightEdge can help. Now that modern IT practices have started to blend physical with virtual, and cloud with on-premises, safeguarding your applications and data requires several tools and methods.
LightEdge is committed to keeping our customers’ IT operations, critical applications, and data protected. We provide the technology and resources our customers require to get back to a production state that meets their RTO and RPO requirements.
LightEdge offers a comprehensive set of disaster recovery solutions to ensure uninterrupted performance of IT operations and mission-critical systems in the event of a disaster.
The reliable availability of business IT is essential to the management and livelihood of every company, large or small. All elements hinge on the dependability of your technology to deliver vital information right when you need it.
Redundancy is built into each of our data centers located in Des Moines, Kansas City, Omaha, Austin, and Raleigh facilities. Each of our LightEdge facilities strive to deliver more than traditional data centers. We have created true Hybrid Solution Centers designed to offer a complete portfolio of high speed, secure, redundant, local cloud services and managed gateways to public clouds through our hardened facilities.
Want to learn more about LightEdge’s disaster recovery and business continuity services? Contact one of our disaster recovery experts to get started or to schedule your private tour of any of our data center facilities. We have disaster recovery, colocation, and business continuity experts standing by to answer any of your questions.
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