What is Enterprise Data Backup? (And What It’s Absolutely Not)

by | Apr 3, 2019

What exactly is enterprise data backup? Well, it has come a long way over the last two decades. New technologies, combined with the increased power of cloud computing, have dramatically improved all aspects of the backup process.

Today’s best backup solutions are miles ahead of systems that many businesses deployed only a few years back. Somebody asking the question “What is corporate data backup?” in 2004 would probably get a different answer today, even while the fundamental definition hasn’t changed.

For companies that have updated their infrastructure, this means:

·      More resilient backups that aren’t as prone to failure or data corruption during recovery

·      Higher backup frequencies that minimize data loss, enabling aggressive RTOs

·      More efficient backup processes that don’t eat up computing resources

·      Faster recoveries, which are near instant when backup can be booted as virtualized machines

·      Smarter software that makes it easy to locate missing or modified data in seconds

All of this has translated into fewer headaches for IT and reduced risks for businesses that can’t afford a break in continuity.

The problem, however, is that not all companies have made the jump to these newer backup solutions. If your business is still relying on older, outdated methods, then chances are you’re leaving the company at risk of catastrophic data loss. (Plus, everyday data loss from causes like accidental deletion are probably already costing you money.)

So, what should you be looking for in a corporate data backup solution today? Let’s start with the basics.

What is enterprise data backup?

Corporate data backup is a system for creating backup copies of a business’s data. The purpose of these backups is to prevent the permanent loss of data if the original copies were to be compromised, corrupted, deleted or lost.

Backed-up data can include company emails, files, folders, software, data saved within applications, file structures and operating systems.

There are numerous causes of data loss, ranging from unintentional file deletion by users to widespread ransomware attacks. Having backups ensures a business’s operations aren’t derailed when data is lost.

There are numerous ways to back up data, though not all of them make ideal solutions for today’s businesses. Examples include:

·      On-site servers

·      Hard disk and flash SSD drives (internal and external)

·      Tape drives

·      Off-site servers & data centers / private clouds

·      Public cloud services

·      Network attached storage devices (NAS)

·      File sync & share services (FSS)

That’s the most basic definition of corporate data backup. But now, let’s look at how businesses should be thinking about backup systems today, given our increasingly data-driven world and advancements of backup technologies in recent years.

Today, corporate data backup needs to be …

·      A business continuity solution. Data backup cannot be thought of as merely “making extra copies of files.” Today’s businesses run on data. So when something happens to that data, operations can be severely interrupted, leading to costly downtime and financial losses. Today’s backup systems therefore need to help businesses maintain continuity. That means not just having extra copies, but being able to rapidly restore the data back in place, as if the disruption never occurred.

·      A disaster recovery solution. There’s a reason why we refer to advanced corporate data backup systems as “business continuity and disaster recovery” (BCDR) solutions. They go beyond backup to ensure a fast, full recovery after disaster. They provide failbacks for a wide range of disaster scenarios, whether a fire has destroyed the IT infrastructure or a botched data migration has overwritten a year’s worth of important data. Each hour of downtime following data loss can cost businesses between $10,000 and $5 million, depending on the company’s size. Every minute counts. If a quick and seamless recovery is not possible, then the backup system is virtually useless.

·      An infrastructure backup solution: Recovering files alone is often not enough to restore continuity after a major data loss. In a massive ransomware attack, for example, an infection can encrypt critical O/S files and application data, turning users’ computers into paperweights. This is why today’s corporate data backup systems must provide a more complete solution for infrastructure backup, restoring operating systems and applications, along with all the other data.

·      A unified cloud backup solution: Today’s businesses can’t afford the risk of storing their backups in a single location. For example, an on-site NAS server or BDR appliance is still vulnerable to any kind of destructive on-site disaster, such as fire, flooding or natural disaster. For greater protection, backups need to be replicated off-site as well. This provides two advantages: 1) It ensures that backed-up data is safe, no matter what happens on site, and 2) it enables data to be restored to nearly any machine, regardless of location. This unified approach is commonly referred to as hybrid cloud backup.

·      A virtual machine. Virtualization has flipped BC/DR on its head, allowing backups to be booted as virtual machines in just seconds. This means that businesses can regain access to all their critical applications almost instantly—a boon for maintaining continuity. And when this virtualization is also available via the cloud, critical personnel can get to work no matter where they are.

·      A ransomware safeguard: Ransomware has quickly become one of the most costly threats to a business’s data. A recent report found that 22% of small companies had experienced a ransomware attack in the previous year. On average, those businesses lost more than $100,000 per incident due to the downtime. One in six organizations said the attacks resulted in more than 25 hours of downtime. Traditional data backup systems take a retroactive approach to data loss: they sit there, waiting to be restored when needed. Today’s Backup solutions need to be more proactive, actively monitoring for signs of a ransomware infection, thus minimizing its spread and impact.

·      A robust locator of lost data: You could deploy the most powerful BC/DR hardware in the world, but it would be worthless if there wasn’t a method for quickly identifying lost data. Remember, the vast majority of everyday data occurs because of accidental deletion. Today’s best continuity solutions are designed with robust search capabilities that make it easy to locate the missing data, even without file names or deletion data. You shouldn’t need to restore an entire backup to find one or two missing files, no matter how critical those files are. Businesses should have the option of restoring specific files or reverting to a previous recovery point, based on the specific situation.

What corporate data backup is NOT

By now, you should have a good vision for what today’s best data-protection solutions are capable of. So now, let’s focus on the myths, misconceptions and old-fashioned thinking about backup systems.

You’ve got the answer to “What is corporate data backup?” Here’s what it isn’t – and never should be:

·      A thumb drive on Jim’s desk. Sorry, that’s not how real corporate backup works (though you’d be surprised at how many small businesses are using an approach like this to “protect” their files). To be clear, thumb drives can be useful for transferring files to different computers and locations. But they do not come close to providing any level of business continuity.

·      A sync to Dropbox. Dropbox is for file sharing and storage, not backup. Any data loss that occurs on a user’s computer will be synced to Dropbox—so it won’t protect you when files are accidentally deleted, modified or infected with ransomware. Also, after a catastrophic data loss, Dropbox won’t be much help to you. You’ll never be able to store (or easily restore) all the system data you need to get your business running again.

·      Something that only large companies can afford. Wrong again. Innovative SMB backup solutions from Datto actually do provide enterprise-level protection at a price that’s very reasonable for small companies. Take Datto’s small-but-mighty SIRIS X or ALTO devices, for example, which provide comprehensive backup and disaster recovery (including hybrid virtualization)—and are tiny enough to sit on your desk. It’s 360-degree data protection, in a package that’s literally built for small companies with limited IT budgets.

·      A “once a week” ordeal. Today’s BC/DR technologies allow you to perform backups as often as every five minutes. If your current backup system is so time-consuming and resource-intensive that it limits you to weekly (or even daily) backups, then you’re leaving data exposed. Today’s best practices advise that your exchange servers, for example, should be backed up every hour.

·      A 3 a.m. emergency when something goes wrong. Let’s all agree to stop those, okay? Today’s best backup solutions come with numerous safeguards to ensure that backups are successfully completed and can be recovered without problem. Automatic integrity tests and mock recoveries eliminate the “cross your fingers” anxiety of older-style technology. With newer systems, you can rest easy knowing that everything is working as it should. No more 3 a.m. surprises.


Take a closer look at today’s best corporate backup options

For more information on how you can protect your data with Datto’s hybrid cloud BC/DR technologies, request a free demo or contact our business continuity specialists today. Call (646) 395-1170 or email success@invenioIT.com.

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Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.