On Disaster Recovery for SMBs

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ben Kepes

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This has been a big year for disasters in my neck of the woods. From floods and fires in Australia to ongoing Earthquakes in Canterbury – business have had their continuity approaches tested and retested to the limit.

One of the most important continuity aspects is disaster recovery. Acronis, a provider of backup, recovery and security solutions that span physical, virtual and cloud environments, recently conducted a survey in Australia – while these surveys should always be taken with something of a grain of salt, the results seem pretty emphatic.

Just 22% of Australian businesses felt they would be able to recover quickly in the event of downtime, compared to a global average of 50%.

Added to that is the fact that around a third of businesses polled have no disaster recovery strategies in place whatsoever.

In light of this statistic, Acronis developed a five point guideline to help SMBs achieve a similar level of data protection to that enjoyed by larger organizations. The tips are;

  • Opt into disk imaging. To ensure your company can be up and running quickly after a disaster, make images of computers and servers so full copies of data and applications are safely tucked away. You can either store on different machines, in different locations or reach for a cloud solution. In the event that something happens, the images can be loaded onto to new hardware in hours rather than days.
  • Jump to the cloud for business continuity. Onsite backups are great for day-to-day recovery, but if they are destroyed too, you need to consider an off-site data storage solution. An alternative is to contract with a cloud service provider to not only back up to the cloud but also recover onto virtual machines.
  • Recover to dissimilar hardware. Hardware-agnostic software can recover from the backup image of the failed system onto any available hardware and replace the old machine’s hardware drivers with the new ones, a process that takes only about 15 minutes. Virtualisation users can opt to recover mission-critical machines even more quickly by recovering either a physical or virtual machine disk image to a standby virtual machine. It can then be launched immediately with a mouse click.
  • Include both your physical and virtual environments. Use a backup and recovery solution that takes care of backups and recoveries of all your machines. For ease of management consider a solution that protects all the platforms you’re using. Then, if disaster strikes, your organisation can much more easily coordinate a recovery that will minimise or eliminate the potential for lost productivity.
  • Make a plan and follow it. Make sure if disaster does strike, you know how to get your data back quickly. Look for data protection and disaster recovery solutions that provide a step by step guide to recover your systems and files. It is rare that the person who made the backup is the same person on hand to recover the system.

All sensible points and, most importantly, eminently achievable given the economical DR solutions available today – there really is no excuse for not having a good DR strategy in place – having come through a serious earthquake myself, and having to relocate businesses several times – I’ve seen the pain caused by a reliance on physical hardware that isn’t replicated elsewhere.

Cross-posted from Diversity

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