Why Business Continuity is Better Than Just BackupDon Cockayne
If you’ve had any kind of computer technology in your business, odds are pretty good that at some point along the way someone implemented a backup strategy for at least your most critical systems. For years, the best solution for backups was a tape based process, where you had a supply of tape cartridges that you rotated through a schedule, and each night someone had the responsibility of carrying the previous night’s tape home with them so there was an “off-site” copy to turn to if the building burned down.
It wasn’t a horrible system (as long as you didn’t leave the tape cartridge on the dash of the car on a hot summer day), and everyone expected to have to replace tape cartridges periodically as they deteriorated and started to fail. But those of us tasked with recovering Business systems from disasters always crossed our fingers when it came time to restore data from tapes, as we knew how inconsistent the restores could be.
And the concept of business continuity didn’t factor into the equation at all. Your business was down when something went bad, and the only thing we could hope to do as Technicians was to limit the number of hours or days that your people were without the system. The only thing we could do was limit the downtime so as to limit the overtime you had to accept as your people struggled to get caught up on the backed up work while still dealing with their normal workload when things finally got back to normal.
In the landscape of modern systems, there has been significant improvements made in not only the methods used to perform backups, but through effective use of machine virtualization, we can now discuss Backup and Business Continuity as one topic.
To begin with, the destination for modern backups has moved away from Tape Cartridges and now backups are written directly to the exact same kind of hard drives that are in computers, but now these drives are accessed directly across the network so we have immediate, local storage for fast restorations of either large or small quantities of data. And off-site storage is now accomplished by way of secure transmission of data across your Internet connection, not by lugging tapes home with you each night so if the building burns to the ground, everything can be restored from the off-site copy.
But where the real power of this new technology comes into play is when you begin to understand the impact that virtualization has had. It is now possible for a local storage appliance to do double-duty as a virtualization server, allowing a damaged machine to be brought back to life as a virtual instance of the original, running off the storage appliance while the real computer is fixed or replaced. In other words, a crashed machine can be virtualized so the person(s) using it can keep working while the repair is affected on the damaged machine. And this strategy isn’t just great for getting through a hardware failure with a minimum of fuss, but this is also an excellent strategy for an instance where a virus or other malicious software gets in to infect a machine. By performing full backups of the entire machine, if a machine does get infected or otherwise compromised, it can immediately be restored back to a point before the infection.