Monthly Archives: April 2015

Top disaster recovery options for small businesses

Small businesses with limited resources cannot use such lack of funding as an excuse to neglect disaster recovery. Disruptions can occur on a daily basis, whether from cyberattacks, power outages, human error or Mother Nature-related incidents. Companies that experience any of these events must have the capability to restore operations as efficiently as possible. Otherwise, the brand's reputation is at stake if clients and customers cannot get through to communicate with the organization.

Network World recently highlighted some of the disaster recovery solutions that can fit within the small business sector. One option is managed services. The news source noted companies are realizing they cannot maintain their own DR systems on their own, thus making third-party vendors tasked with such management processes viable options. These offerings include data replication and automated functionality.

Regardless of what disaster recovery option companies choose, they should make sure they focus on recovery point objectives to prepare their data and applications for specific scenarios. The report explained RPOs and recovery time objectives both have to be defined by the company's systems and the location of these assets to restore operations.

Out with the old
Small businesses that have long backed up mission-critical resources on tapes have likely realized that these devices are from a different era. The news provider cited electronic vaulting as another way for companies to improve their disaster recovery. These solutions are more cost-effective and flexible compared to tapes, allowing users to take advantage of software replication capabilities to deliver continuous protection.

"Small businesses have plenty of options when it comes to disaster recovery solutions."

Cloud computing is another more modern disaster recovery system, delivering capabilities legacy equipment simply cannot match. Small businesses that seek affordable and scalable technologies may not have a better option than the cloud. Network World explained adopters no longer have to purchase on-site DR applications, instead signing up for long-term storage for their assets or paying for the services they consume.

Some organizations may not want to fully transition all assets to the cloud. The news provider asserted that small and medium-sized businesses can at least leverage recovery for data storage purposes to recover resources during a disaster.

Security is a key part of any successful disaster recovery protocol. Security is a key part of any successful disaster recovery protocol.

Never overlook security
Small businesses that want comprehensive disaster recovery protocols should also look at improving their security. Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks are common plights companies face. TechTarget explained traditional safeguards – firewalls, load balancers, routers and networks – are not always successful against DDoS threats. The news source cited a 2014 SANS survey that found nearly two-thirds of firms did not have any funding for IT partners or DDoS defenses.

Organizations should consider partnering with disaster specialists to shore up any vulnerabilities with their current recovery capabilities. These service providers are valuable resources for identifying issues that must be addressed, whether these challenges involve the backup devices in use, employee education regarding corporate policies, security defenses or whether to implement cloud environments.

Small businesses may lack the experience or budget of large enterprises with exhaustible resources, but they can still receive the right protection from trusted partners to avoid prolonged periods of downtime.

Companies admit DDoS attacks are becoming more problematic

Cybersecurity must be a key part of any company's business continuity and disaster recovery protocol. Specifically, DDoS attacks can result in prolonged periods of service downtime if these threats are not negated. A recent Neustar survey of organizations throughout North America discovered 31 percent of DDoS victims reported these incidents lasted more than 24 hours. A vast majority – 85 percent – have been attacked multiple times.

More than 90 percent of respondents believe DDoS attacks are becoming a larger problem this year or are the same issue as they were in 2014. The study found 26 percent of participants said DDoS threats negatively impact their brands and consumer trust. In terms of revenue impact, businesses indicated every hour of downtime results in losses averaging $100,000.

Margee Abrams, security services director at Neustar, said DDoS attacks have evolved to become an organization-wide threat that has earned the attention of C-level executives.

"A website attack that was once considered to be an IT problem now reverberates and can cause significant brand damage that affects all organizational employees and its customers," Abrams added.

What can be done to limit DDoS incidents?
What is perhaps the most surprising finding of the Neustar analysis is that cloud computing could enable organizations to deal with DDoS attacks more effectively. In some cases, businesses have kept the technology at a distance for security concerns, so it is telling just how far the service has come in terms of corporate safeguards that the solution holds the key to stopping DDoS threats from succeeding.

"DDoS attacks are plaguing a majority of business."

The report said hybrid systems, which combined both on-site functionality with cloud-based environments, are the preferred choice among those businesses polled.

Abrams explained organizations want immediate protection against surges to combat large attacks. This is challenging if companies are still relying on switches, firewalls and routers to handle the increased traffic.

"But when revenues and brand reputation are at risk, deploying a hybrid solution offers the best of both worlds: immediate on premise protection with the capacity that only cloud providers can offer," Abrams said.

Cloud computing is now a viable security option. Cloud computing is now a viable security option.

Cloud security services market poised for rapid growth
Cloud computing does not appear to be the security detriment some companies used to fear, as the technology is becoming a disaster recovery staple and safeguard enabler. A TechNavio report suggested the worldwide cloud security services market will expand at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 50 percent between 2014 and 2019. Organizations are expected to adopt the solution to avoid the higher total cost of ownership, licensing fees, management expenses and upfront capital investments associated with on-site equipment

Businesses that want to address DDoS threats and improve their disaster preparedness through cloud computing should consider consulting with recovery specialists. These service providers are an ideal resource for helping clients make informed decisions pertaining to their IT infrastructures and which systems to adopt.

DDoS attacks are not dissipating. Firms that want to avoid any prolonged downtime or data exposure should not hesitate to contact recovery specialists that are well-versed in cloud computing and disaster recovery.

Cloud computing delivers new wrinkle to disaster preparedness

Companies must always be ready to handle the unexpected when it comes to disasters. Many types of incidents can occur that leave businesses scrambling to restore operations in a timely fashion. In recent years, cloud computing has emerged as a viable option to host mission-critical data and applications while enabling employees to access these resources following a disruption.

The Whir's Bill Kleyman detailed the advantages of cloud computing for business continuity and disaster recovery. Organizations relying on on-site systems miss out on the functionality of using cloud computing. Some vendors offer nearly 100 percent uptime, as well as redundancies that ensure failures do not affect all corporate locations if certain systems go offline.

With assets stored in cloud environments, businesses can deliver data accessibility that again leaves older equipment behind. Kleyman wrote that cloud-based backups enable organizations to take advantage of more efficient recovery times, resiliency and flexibility. Cloud hosting vendors help customers decide what assets will be migrated off-site and where employees will access the closest servers in the event of a disruption.

When choosing a cloud service provider, companies should look for vendors that offer business impact analysis capabilities, which identify critical assets and help establish recovery time objectives, Kleyman explained. Vendors that do not include such offerings in their packages "may fall short of business expectations."

Global DRaaS market poised for greatness
It appears more organizations are realizing the advantages of hosting important assets in cloud-based environments for disaster recovery purposes. A TechNavio report indicated the worldwide Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service industry will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 52.1 percent between 2014 and 2019.

"Cloud computing has become a viable disaster preparedness solution."

Cloud computing is available in various models, including public, private and hybrid environments. For disaster recovery, hybrid solutions are gaining steam, as adopters can still manage assets on-site while transitioning other resources off-site. This approach is effective if cloud vendors experience disruptions of their own.

TechNavio noted companies are implementing hybrid clouds to improve traditional recovery systems and offer such capabilities to remote offices. Businesses leveraging DRaaS can also expect to safeguard virtual assets and physical applications, achieve faster recovery and reduce operating costs.

The types of business adopting DRaaS are also varied, according to Faisal Ghaus, vice president of TechNavio, who indicated both small to medium-sized businesses and large enterprises will continue to implement such services.

Recovery specialists help clients select loud computing or another solution.Recovery specialists help clients select cloud computing or another solution.

Don't make any rash decisions
Companies considering implementing cloud-based disaster recovery or any other type of system should not rush when making any decision. A lot of factors must be considered to select the most secure and efficient solution possible. SMBs could lack the resources of large enterprises, requiring outside assistance to make the most informed choices pertaining to their preparedness

Recovery specialists are perfect for organizations that want to maintain operational efficiency during the next disruption, whether they recover resources through physical data backups, cloud-based environments or a combination of the two. These service providers will analyze clients' infrastructure to make the best recommendations based on the personalized needs of each and every customer.

Don’t forget employees when designing disaster recovery plans

Organizations attempting to improve their disaster recovery initiatives will undoubtedly focus on safeguarding critical data and applications from future disruptions. However, businesses should not overlook the importance of keeping employees prepared as well. Staff members must understand their roles should offices experience floods, fires, power outages and powerful storms that can stop productivity in its tracks.

A TechRepublic report by Mary Shacklett highlighted how important the human element is to disaster preparedness. One suggestion should be present at every company: Firms must have some protocol in place to test recovery plans. She indicated organizations should review these materials annually at a minimum.

It is best to update these plans more often, however, given that system configurations are updated, operations evolve and new threats emerge, Shacklett wrote.

Communication is essential
Even with thorough training and planning, employees can still get caught off-guard when disasters strike. Communication in these situations is critical following disruptions. Shacklett explained many businesses have network trees in place to connect personnel with the CEO, C-level decision-makers, managers and supervisors.

"Employees cannot be secondary during disasters."

Companies may want to review these communication trees on a quarterly basis to ensure all staff members are prepared to collaborate should a disaster strike. Businesses that do not take this approach may have employees who revert back to older methods, resulting in misinformation, Shacklett added.

Try and remain calm
Depending on the severity of the event, workers can become flustered during a disaster. If their physical safety is in danger, staff members may panic. Shacklett noted C-level executives in particular should take a vested interest in ensuring employees are safe following any disasters. This can include checking in with people to see if they are emotionally stable, as well as paying attention to their own well-being in these situations.

When time is not a luxury, recovery specialists help clients be proactive during disasters. When time is not a luxury, recovery specialists help clients be proactive during disasters.

Address all facets of disaster preparedness
Businesses that want the most effective disaster recovery plan possible may be unable to develop such initiatives on their own. Rather than make any mistakes in the planning phase, especially regarding the protection of both employees and IT assets, firms should consider contacting recovery specialists for assistance.

These service providers are in the business of helping customers make the most of their disaster recovery protocols. These vendors work closely with clients to identify which data backups are the most suitable for their respective brands, as well as determine if response plans are outdated. These companies will collaborate with organizations to educate employees on how they can respond to disruptions to avoid any unnecessary panic or ineffective approaches that will further impact operational efficiency.

No business can successfully avoid every type of disaster. Some are caused by human error, others by unexpected power outages or from Mother Nature-related incidents that damage buildings and force office closures. Overlooking a response plan is a surefire way for any company to lose money from not offering service to clients and customers, allowing the competition to thrive if downtime persists for hours, days or even longer.

Cloud computing becoming opportunity for disaster recovery providers

Vendors that have made a name for themselves through traditional disaster recovery services may be able to extend their brands' reach even further with cloud computing solutions. A Microsoft-commissioned study conducted by 451 Research indicated nearly 70 percent of all earning potential among cloud vendors involve data backup and DR, security capabilities such as threat management and email/business application hosting.

Michelle Bailey, senior vice president of digital infrastructure and data strategy at 451 Research, said hybrid cloud computing models are becoming staples. For vendors that offer cloud services to clients, these companies should focus on more than just affordable suites and data center accessibility.

"Providers need to build a business that aligns to who they are as a company and who they are supporting. Cloud 2.0 is really about value, redefining cloud computing from a technical specification to a business-ready environment. Enterprises are looking for a trusted end-to-end solution, and ultimately this will involve multiple partners," Bailey added.

What makes cloud computing ideal for disaster recovery?
Convenience and accessibility are two traits that make cloud computing ideal for disaster recovery purposes. No company can truly stop every disruption from occurring, especially when Mother Nature is involved. The cloud, however, makes it possible for businesses to have access to mission-critical data in the event of an incident.

"Data backup and disaster recovery are becoming staples of cloud computing.

This is possible thanks to the cloud's availability. Cloud environments are accessible through Internet-capable devices. Even if organizations are unable to open their offices following inclement weather, employees can still work from their homes or remote locations until the building is back to working condition.

A TwinStrata survey conducted in 2014 discovered just 12 percent of businesses were able to recover data in hours. Of the respondents leveraging cloud computing, 20 percent could accomplish this feat, compared to 9 percent of firms using on-premise solutions.

Organizations that want to improve their data recovery capabilities may be wise to implement cloud environments to overcome some troubling statistics. TwinStrata found almost 66 percent of businesses view recovery time in days, with 29 percent reporting it requires four days to fully retrieve content.

Any company expected to maintain success for the foreseeable future must improve their recovery time. Otherwise, customers and clients may not be willing to wait days to receive service.

Recovery specialists are the perfect resource for companies using any type of disaster preparedness solution.Recovery specialists are the perfect resource for companies using any type of disaster preparedness solution.

Don't neglect available resources and support
Cloud computing is ideal for maintaining some semblance of productivity during disruptions, but it is not a panacea. Businesses cannot take any chances when it comes to protecting their data and applications, which is why it may be necessary to partner with recovery specialists to cover all the bases.

These service providers are invaluable sources of expertise, collaborating with companies to suggest the most effective recovery strategies. As the cloud can fill a void in a client's preparedness, businesses may still require further capabilities in the event of a disruption. Vendors will likely make sure the customer has physical data backups available at a secondary location, should the cloud provider experiences downtime of its own.