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POWER > Systems Management > High Availability

Investments Offset the Costs of Data Loss

Data loss


Data is your company’s most valuable asset and properly safeguarding it can be expensive. Companies employ several single and multilayered approaches to back up their data. Each layer adds protection and usually more cost. But what really gets expensive is the cost of recovery and downtime.

Most companies simply cannot function without access to their data. And the longer they’re down, the heavier the financial burden. According to Gartner, in 2018, the average cost of IT downtime was $5,600 per minute. With a long enough period of downtime, some companies will never recover.

A Recovery Plan

Data loss prevention has many available solutions. But how do you decide which will work best for your business? The more layers of protection that you have in place, the more likely you will be able to recover if a disaster occurs. Multiple layers of data protection can come with a hefty price tag, which is why many companies opt for single-layer protection strategies. Any way you look at it, the prevention price tag will be significantly lower than the recovery price tag.

How fast would you be able to restore your company’s data in case of an emergency? Do you have multiple pristine copies of your data? Many believe they have current backups of their data, only to find those backups have been compromised by an attack (including internal sabotage).

What would you do if your backups were compromised or lost to cryptolockers? How would your company recover from a ransomware attack? Hopefully, you will never find yourself in the situation to need to answer these questions.

Backup Options

Many companies use disk as the only target for backups because their backup software products support it. They feel that it’s easier to manage or, in some cases, is the less expensive approach. Most disk-based systems are file-system-based, including many virtual tape libraries (VTLs), which can easily be exploited by today’s common data threats. Anytime you hear reports of a company falling victim to ransomware and cryptolocker attacks, you can bet that they were likely using a file-system-based disk backup solution. With this single-layer backup plan, no air-gap, additional copies or offsite backup exists. This leaves data vulnerable to all kinds of threats, including natural disasters.

An air gap is created when tape or virtual tape copies of your data are created but are completely offline until manually inserted into your tape drive or virtual tape drive for actual use.

A slightly better (but higher priced) approach to data protection is backing up to disk and then replicating the data offsite (e.g., to the cloud). This does increase the number of copies of the data but both copies are saved on vulnerable file-system-based backup solutions. Using this method also leaves data susceptible to ransomware and virus attacks because no air-gapped offline copy of the data exists—and a corruption/infection/deletion of the primary backups can be replicated off-site.

A Comprehensive Strategy

The best way to prevent the high costs of downtime and ransoms is a properly designed “3-2-1” backup strategy. This also can be the most expensive of the mentioned approaches. This disk-to-disk-to-tape strategy exponentially increases your chances of a successful full-system recovery. And it’s the easiest and most efficient way to back up your data and know, with reasonable certainty, that a pristine copy is really there and recoverable. The 3-2-1 backup strategy requires three independent copies of your data on two different types of media (disk and tape). And one of those three must be far enough away for geographic redundancy. That means a buffer from a weather-related or building-related disaster. This maximizes data protection by combining the speed of disk backup with the security of removable tape archives and the safeguard of remote site replication.

I recommend performing nightly backups to a VTL that’s not file-system based. This provides the fastest performance to complete nightly backups and is easy to manage while keeping data free of corruption. Plus, this is a local backup that’s always accessible without the need for the internet connection that cloud-based services require. When necessary, restores can be done locally from the VTL without the latency experienced in performing cloud restores.

Once the backup to the VTL is complete, data can be replicated to another VTL off-site and optionally offloaded to a physical tape device. The tape format (physical and virtual) is offline and protected from various threats by a natural air gap.

The Best of Both Worlds

This multilayered method provides three copies of your data: the original, the backup to VTL and the replicated offline copy at a remote site. The requirement of two media types is met with the disk-based copy and the tape copy. Without a 3-2-1 backup strategy using non-file-system VTLs and tape, you run the risk of lost data, lost productivity, lost customers, lost revenue, and worst yet: a complete loss of business. Disk-based backups play an important role in the speed of your backups and restores, but tape’s role (physical or virtual) is vital to the security and integrity of your company’s data.

When disk and tape work in tandem to protect your data, you have a powerful, reliable, and fast backup and recovery solution that will defend against ever-evolving data threats.

Steve Jones is the director of sales at Cybernetics. He's been working on Power Systems storage for more than 28 years.



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