If there is one thing the past 18 months have taught us, it’s that the future is by no means set in stone. When it comes to ensuring business continuity, it pays to be prepared.

By Lourens Sanders, solution architect at Infinidat

One of the most important aspects of disaster recovery today is data. With everything else that businesses currently have to contend with, data loss could be the final straw. It has never been more important to take a strategic approach to both backup and data protection.

Not if, but when

While many businesses have an attitude of ‘it won’t happen to us’, the fact of the matter is that, with ransomware running rampant, data loss is more likely to occur than not.

While backups are an obviously important aspect of any data strategy, they are no longer enough. They should always be secondary to an effective data protection and data management strategy, because without a strategy, businesses may be left in a difficult position.

A case in point is the fact that newer-generation ransomware actually attacks backups as well as production data, making these backups useless at recovering lost data.

An effective strategy needs to mitigate the risk of potential data loss while simultaneously ensuring that recovery can happen fast should an incident occur. While ransomware is obviously a real threat, there are many reasons why data may be lost, from a natural disaster to human error.

Contingencies need to be put into place and organisations need to outline exactly what process should be followed to restore quickly and minimise downtime.

Intelligent solutions are a must

Ideally, organisations need to invest in an Active-Active failover architecture – this means that there is an exact replica of the environment that is live and ready to take over, which in turn means always-on availability and no loss of data. However, this can be a costly exercise, since it effectively means that the entire data storage architecture needs to be delivered twice.

Data deduplication is therefore also critical to ensure that storage is optimised, to reduce the cost associated with the backup architecture. However, it is important to ensure that these deduplication efforts do not negatively affect recovery performance. Also critical is a system that will guarantee 100% uptime and data availability, with the capability to perform upgrades that do not disrupt operations. Without these, the Active-Active architecture will neither be cost-effective nor efficient.

The smart approach is to leverage industry-standard hardware with a software-defined approach to storage design. Not only does this reduce costs while guaranteeing performance, it can also be delivered via elastic pricing – a flexible financial model that combines capex and opex. Intelligent software-defined storage solutions can deliver high performance on commodity hardware, which maximises performance and enables Active-Active infrastructure for instant failure and enhanced data recoverability.

Automation is essential

The final consideration of a strategic approach to backup and recovery is to automate processes. By ensuring that human intervention is not required, compliance to processes is assured, and in the event of an incident, the correct procedure can be followed without error.

When it comes to data backup and data protection, organisations need to be prepared. Once an incident occurs, it is already too late, so it pays to be prepared and have an effective strategy in place. Given the critical nature of data to business today, organisations simply cannot afford for things to go wrong when, and not if, a data loss event occurs.

The combination of automated processes and intelligent, software-defined architecture that supports business priorities will put organisations in a solid position to deal with issues as and when they may arise.