What is Unified Continuity?

by Oct 21, 2019Business Continuity

Unified continuity is the concept of unifying hardware, software and cloud infrastructure to create a fully integrated data backup and disaster recovery system.

Unified systems can deliver more dependable levels of data protection and recovery, in addition to being easier to manage and deploy.

At a time when small businesses are losing an average of $100,000 from downtime caused by ransomware attacks and other data-loss events, improving continuity is a must. Deploying a more integrated BC/DR solution can ensure businesses are better equipped to quickly restore operations after an unexpected disruption.

Unified continuity vs. traditional BC/DR

What’s the difference between unified continuity and a more conventional approach?

As BC/DR technology has advanced over the last few decades, organizations have gained more tools for restoring data after a wide range of disasters:

  • Off-site backups and the cloud have ensured that data can be recovered even if on-premise infrastructure is destroyed.
  • Virtual machines have enabled businesses to restore access to applications and operating systems on other hardware.
  • Advanced file-recovery software have made it easier and faster to locate missing and deleted data.

 

But often, enabling all these capabilities isn’t so easy. To achieve this advanced level of continuity, organizations often have to piece together different hardware, software and other components, often from different developers.

That’s where unified continuity comes in.

A unified BC/DR infrastructure aims to achieve the same continuity goals but with a more simplified, streamlined deployment. Converging all the system components, all developed by a single provider, ensures that everything works together seamlessly and with fewer headaches.

 

What exactly is being unified?

We mentioned above how a unified system converges hardware, software and the cloud. But let’s take a minute to illustrate what that might actually look like in practice.

A unified data backup system would generally be comprised of the following components:

  • Hardware: This would typically be at least one on-premise backup device that powers the backups and storage. In some configurations, additional devices may be deployed, i.e. for off-site storage or to create a private cloud.
  • Software: Software is central to the entire backup process, controlling how and where the data is stored, how it’s recovered and so on. Some BC/DR providers offer only the backup software, or the hardware, requiring businesses to configure it together. But in a unified system both components are developed by a single provider.
  • Virtualization: Rather than requiring a separate server or other disparate hardware, a unified platform integrates virtualization into the backup device from the same provider, and it’s controlled via the integrated software. Whether the host machine is on-premise or off-site, the underlying hardware powering the virtualization would be part of a single, fully integrated system.
  • Cloud: Today’s data backups increasingly rely on the cloud for off-site storage, recovery and virtualization. But many systems need to be integrated with a public cloud, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that setup. But when the cloud infrastructure is completely unified with the same hardware and software that powers the backup process—and built by the same engineers—the deployment is typically a lot simpler and outcomes are more predictable.

 

Benefits of unified continuity

We’ve touched on some of the benefits a little bit, but let’s dig a little deeper into why unified continuity makes sense.

  • Ease of deployment: When a business continuity solution is truly unified, there’s less to configure. Rather than having to manually integrate several disparate components, everything is already integrated and designed to work together, right out of the box.
  • Infrastructure efficiency: At a time when many businesses are fighting to keep their sprawling infrastructure under control, unified solutions help to consolidate several aspects of the backup process into a single piece of hardware. This translates into greater infrastructure efficiency with fewer components to manage.
  • Seamless backups: Errors in the backup process can occur when various components aren’t configured properly. This can mean more failed backups, software features not working, corrupted data or a number of other issues. Conversely, a unified solution can significantly reduce the risk of errors that stem from those manual configurations.
  • Dependable recovery: When the time comes to recover data—whether it’s a single file or an entire backup—there should be no need to cross your fingers. It should just work. A unified business continuity solution makes the recovery process more seamless. On-site virtualization, cloud VMs, file restores, bare metal restores and so on: all recovery options are powered by the same unified technology, so there are no surprises.
  • Better performance: Speed and reliability are the hallmarks of a good business continuity solution. Backup and recovery processes need to be fast. A slow backup process eats up system resources and could mean a slower backup frequency, preventing businesses from achieving their recovery objectives. Slow recoveries prolong operational downtime. Unifying all components of a backup system can translate in faster performance across the board, because everything has been seamlessly integrated and optimized.
  • Single-vendor support: A complex deployment can mean needing to get support from several vendors when things go wrong. A unified system ensures businesses have a single point of contact when help is needed.

 

It’s all about uptime

At the end of the day, the primary goal of continuity is keeping the business running in the face of disruptive events, like ransomware, data loss, hardware failure and other disasters.

When operations are interrupted, costs skyrocket. Businesses can lose anywhere from $10,000 to $5 million per hour due to costs associated from that downtime, such as:

  • Idle workers (productivity & wage losses)
  • Revenue losses
  • Lost production time
  • Shipping / logistics interruptions

 

Worse yet, small businesses that can’t restart their operations quickly enough are statistically doomed to fail in the long term.

To ensure uptime after a disaster, today’s businesses require a robust backup system that leaves no data unprotected and makes recovery near instant. A unified BC/DR solution delivers that protection and gives businesses the confidence that they can depend on their backups in any disaster scenario.

 

The movement to converged infrastructure

The concept of unifying IT components into a single integrated solution is not unique to business continuity. It’s just one part of a larger recent trend toward converged infrastructure.

Whereas a unified business continuity system converges hardware, software and cloud for disaster recovery, converged infrastructure consolidates other common IT components, such as servers, data storage and network hardware, into a single appliance from one vendor.

The benefits are essentially no different: more efficient infrastructure, better performance, simplified management and single-vendor support.

 

Example of unified continuity

Leading BC/DR providers typically offer a wide range of products that can be integrated with various software and hardware solutions to achieve a high level of continuity. But if you’re looking for a completely unified system, Datto is a good place to start.

Datto’s two unified BC/DR products include:

  • SIRIS: For small to enterprise businesses
  • ALTO: For small businesses

 

Both are all-in-one products that incorporate an on-site backup appliance with robust backup software and cloud protection. Each component is built by Datto and thus designed to work together seamlessly, from the backup agent to the cloud infrastructure.

To be clear, the key difference between this and a traditional deployment is that the technologies are already integrated from the get-go. This minimizes the need for manual integrations and enables businesses to start backing up their data faster. Typically it takes just minutes to be protected from a full disaster scenario.

 

Unified backup and recovery

Keep in mind that a unified system brings simplicity and speed to nearly all aspects the continuity process: backup and recovery.

When disaster strikes and you need your data back ASAP, rescuing from a backup requires little effort with Datto’s systems. A wide range of recovery options ensures solutions for every disaster scenario, without any unexpected surprises.

Example features, all integrated out-of-box, include:

  • Advanced backup verification: Automated validation to ensure backups are viable
  • Instant virtualization: Ability to boot image-based backups as virtual machines, on-site or in the cloud, for instant access to data and applications
  • Ransomware detection: Multistage detection that automatically scans every backup for signs of an infection
  • Geo-redundant private cloud: Backups are replicated to Datto’s private cloud and stored in geographically diverse data centers to ensure that data is protected even if an entire datacenter goes down
  • Inverse chain backups: Each new backup is fully constructed, so it’s not dependent on previous backups (where traditional incrementals backups are prone to issues)
  • Multiple recovery options: File-level restore, bare metal restore, diskless restore, backup export options and more
  • Backup Insights platform: A simple interface makes it easy to rapidly find lost data by identifying what files have been modified, created, or deleted between any two backups

In a traditional deployment, for example, businesses may need to rely on secondary hardware to power the VMs. Or they may need to add additional software to manage the backup verification. Or they may need to tediously configure the system to achieve desired features, such as image-level backups.

With a unified system, those capabilities are already integrated and powered by converged hardware and software, so that everything works as it should. The end result is a more efficient backup and recovery process that provides greater protection against all disaster scenarios.

 

Take an in-depth look

Request a free demo to see how Datto’s unified continuity solutions can bring stronger disaster-recovery protection to your organization. For more information, contact our experts at Invenio IT by calling (646) 395-1170 or emailing success@invenioIT.com.

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Tracy Rock is the Director of Marketing at Invenio IT. Tracy is responsible for all media-related initiatives as well as external communications—including, branding, public relations, promotions, advertising and social media. She is one busy lady and we are lucky to have her!