All Clouds Are Not Created Equal: Part II

    How Long Can You Live Without Your Stuff?

    Now that you now know what kind of data you have (from Part I), the next factor to identify is time. There are two critical industry terms regarding time that you’ll need to know when you talk to a service provider:

    • Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – the last time the data was backed up
    • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) – how long will it take to get your data back

    Most backup solutions breakdown at this step in the decision-making process, because these attributes must be determined by you (the business), instead of your IT guy.

    RPO?

    Consider these two scenarios:

    1) A copywriter has been writing edits and changes to an existing document over the last four hours when she accidentally overwrites the latest draft, and loses all four hours of changes. IT is able to restore the file from last night’s scheduled backup. This sucks for the writer, but some of the data is recoverable.

    2) In the second scenario, a fashion company finishes their last sales meeting with buyers during market week, recording transactions into their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. A biblical power surge causes a complete disk failure and the database is fried, six hours into those transactions. What happens then? Last night’s backup doesn’t recover any of the last six hours, so do they call all of the customers to repeat their order? Re-input all of the data? This would be a catastrophe for that company, not only economically, but in credibility.

    In both situations, the data losses could have been tolerated, had the business owner identified the need for more frequent backups.

    RTO?

    Go back to our copywriter and her lost file. How long will it take her to get the file back? The worst situation is not knowing. A typical situation is submitting a support ticket to her IT department, and waiting around 24 hours. The best recovery would be a do-it-yourself option, because of a well-designed backup system that allows her to get the data herself.

    The fashion house is more complicated. They use structured data in a database, residing within an application. Even though the database is completely lost, a proper backup plan can recover all their data within a matter of hours. A call to IT would invoke the activation of the stand-by server that has always been waiting for this situation. A lower cost option for this type of recovery could be to restore the data to a new server from within a data center.

    The point is: you don’t have to live without your stuff. Backup technology has come a long way, but it can’t protect your business if you don’t use it.

    Part III in this process is to understand your environment.

    Georg Dauterman is the President of Valiant Technology, a New York-based Managed Service Provider specializing in solutions for creative industries. Early in his career, Georg worked in the IT departments...

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