- What are your big predictions for business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) in 2015?
Businesses of all sizes are becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of their risk assessments and the steps they’re taking in terms of mitigation. We’ve seen significant interest in certain verticals, such as finance, healthcare and SME suppliers to larger enterprises, in dedicated disaster recovery and mitigation products designed to offset natural disasters such as flooding and extreme weather. It’s a fairly sound bet that these types of incidents are on the rise nationally, and it’s great that businesses are heeding the message and getting solid BC/DR plans in place. This is good news for the insurance industry in particular, as this enhanced level of detail on companies’ exposure to risk and how those risks are being managed can only help insurance firms deliver better service to businesses. Of course, the last link in the BC/DR chain is buying insurance to manage risk transfer and run alongside a full-featured risk management programme.
- What are the major technology trends when mitigating BC/DR challenges?
More businesses are going to be seeking out cloud solutions. A recent study by the Cloud Industry Forum predicted that the end of support for Windows Server 2003 would drive businesses to the cloud, and I agree with that expectation. As legacy software and equipment become more cumbersome to manage, businesses are going to implement solutions that are not only more user friendly but more effective for BC/DR.
There’s also a push for using cloud for backup and DR to meet more aggressive recovery time objectives (RTOs) driven by compliance requirements. Although historically meeting tougher RTOs was a fairly cost-intensive exercise, an enormous influx of new solutions to the market has made costs drop significantly. One approach is combining disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and secure vaulting. Take BlackVault, an on-site managed solution that securely stores critical data on an on-site platform; and for additional off-site recovery, data can be vaulted in BlackCloud, a private cloud environment.
These solutions have the ability to meet RTOs as short as 0-2 hours, which simply isn’t feasible for most pure-play cloud implementations. On a cost point, however, it’s important that these RTOs be subject to realistic SLAs, so less time-critical issues are not as costly. With a sensible asset-versus-risk assessment profile, the RTOs can be tailored so as to provide excellent recovery times without breaking the bank.
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- What does a modern backup and disaster recovery plan look like from a technical perspective?
Today backup and disaster recovery plans are generally based on at least one type of cloud solution, whether it’s public, private or hybrid. These might be combined with traditional backup solutions like disk or tape, and increasingly a business interruption insurance policy component as a final element.
Many businesses have introduced bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies as part of their recovery plans, but BYOD requires careful implementation to avoid security breaches. The increasing industry interest in DRaaS solutions is a great example of where the technology is leading us. Being able to restore the entire environment – not just the data – from the cloud is extremely attractive for companies with minimal tolerance for downtime, or those in high-risk geographical areas, for example. It’s a brilliant insurance policy for these types of businesses, as well as smaller enterprises that haven’t already taken bold steps into combined cloud storage and recovery. Bear in mind that having the relevant grade of SLA in place is essential, and it’s still critical to ensure that you don’t fall foul of compliance regulations. Your chosen DRaaS provider has to meet operational standards for PCI-DSS, EU Data Protection Regulation and ISO standards as needed.
- Can you expand on the shift to cloud-based backup and DR?
The transition to cloud-based backup and DR is driven by the need to recover key IT systems and data quickly. Data sprawl is becoming more of an issue, and no business wants to keep expanding its physical infrastructure to manage growing volumes of data. Products such BlackCloud solve this as well as providing resilience benefits. The more resources you have to manage, the more complicated DR becomes. Cloud’s scalability and centralised management reduce operational complexity to allow for better DR.
- What sort of time impact will DRaaS have?
As I mentioned earlier, one of the advantages of cloud DR is that it reduces operational complexity, which allows businesses to meet more aggressive RTOs. But even so, managing a service by yourself makes it more difficult to recover quickly. With DRaaS, the provider has a much better handle on how to meet customers’ individual needs. Also worth considering are the specific SLAs that the DRaaS providers should be signed up to. This expertise directly impacts recovery times.
About Brandon Tanner
Brandon Tanner is a successful entrepreneur with a technology background that spans software, hardware and service solutions for financial institutions and other regulated industries. He is the senior manager for ITS and their sister organisation, Rentsys in the US and is the key, driving force behind the company’s business continuity and disaster recovery products and services, including the next generation of cloud and recovery products, BlackCloud and BlackVault. The combination of Brandon’s technology and regulatory expertise has led to several innovative cloud strategies that have helped customers maintain compliance more cost-effectively. For more information, visit www.itspecialists.uk.com.