Authored by: Thomas LaRock, Head Geek, SolarWinds
When we see the word ‘superhero,’ we immediately think of gallant and swashbuckling figures, likely with superhuman powers. These characters go on exciting adventures to bring down the villains, saving the day and being hailed as a hero.
But how often do we appreciate the side characters who help them? The faithful white hat whose brains and wit make up for their lack of supernatural abilities and flamboyance? These characters are often cast aside to the peripheral—backups who oftentimes seen to be not as ‘cool’ as the main superheroes. But we know they’re pivotal to the overall storyline and crucial to helping the superhero succeed in their mission.
Likewise, the role of the IT may often be eclipsed by ‘sexier,’ client-facing departments. However, in today’s rapidly digitized marketplace, businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on IT teams to deliver continuously outstanding service. They are the unsung heroes, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure applications are running, data is protected, and every department can execute their tasks seamlessly.
In celebration of World Backup Day last week—and in recognition of the importance of IT professionals everywhere—here are four ways to ensure organisations continually place backups at the core of their businesses every day.
A Successful Mission Begins With a Detailed Game Plan
Even the Avengers never entered battles blind. Leveraging S.H.I.E.L.D, they would compare their own capabilities with their enemies to identify the weak spots and how to target them.
The first step in building your recovery plan is mapping out critical areas. What are the critical systems and applications you work with every day, week, and month? Build an inventory of critical systems, servers, and applications and keep it updated. This is where you’ll find auto-discovery tools immensely helpful.
Next, configure your backup frequency by setting the service level agreement (SLA), recovery point objective (RPO), and recovery time objective (RTO). These are key to implementing best-fit solutions. For example, if there is a mission-critical business service with an RTO of 10 minutes, you wouldn’t rely on tape backups for recovery as it will take longer to restore from tape than recovering from a local copy.
Every Member Has an Important Role
In Avengers: Endgame, the final battle scene clearly illustrated how everybody had a part to play in defeating Thanos. While working in an IT department may not directly compare to stopping world domination, every member plays an important role. It’s not enough to know what needs to be backed up—you need to make sure the backup jobs are in place, the backup files are readily available, and the jobs are completing in a time which meets your RPO and RTO requirements.
Remember to note data volumes as too many backups happening at the same time can flood your network. Also, as data volumes increase, you must adjust your RPO and RTO times accordingly, or consider alternatives to native database backups.
Always Be Prepared
Superheroes don’t just dawdle around waiting for the next mission. Iron Man is continually improving his suit, the Guardians patrol the galaxy, and Falcon is training new members to the team. Superheroes never know when the world might need saving next, and businesses don’t know when the next system disruption could happen. You must test your recovery process frequently—at least once or twice a year—to verify the recovery process is valid. By testing restores, you also verify your RPO and RTO requirements are being met.
Always Be Two Steps Ahead
Every mission is unpredictable. Sometimes, the good guys get blindsided and lose an important piece of technology, information, or infinity stone, ultimately compromising the whole operation. The same can happen for IT, and it’s the last thing we want to happen just because we didn’t do our due diligence. If the data is critical, consider having multiple copies of backups, such as a mix of offsite tape storage and a cloud backup solution. A great and simple rule to follow is the 3-2-1-1 rule: three copies of your data, on two different types of media, one of those stored offsite (and offline), and one immutable. By storing different formats in different locations, the risk of data loss is greatly reduced. Just take care to ensure you have defined an RPO and RTO for each backup version. Recovering from tape will take longer than recovering locally.
Saving the World—One Backup at a Time
It takes a well-oiled team to face the evils of cybercriminals and, of course, plain old human error. Identifying things like RPO and RTO is only the first step in building an iron-clad recovery plan. But these processes will prove to be an invaluable building block to an overall business continuity strategy.
Whichever strategy you employ, following these four steps will help to reduce risk and mitigate potentially disastrous outcomes of your next disaster—and there’s no better time to save your data than now.