By Demetri Petropoulos, head of business development at Global Micro Solutions
Data backup is a little like buying car insurance. You may never need to claim but it is statistically likely that you may have to. When that happens, you want a quick settlement so that you can get back on the road or, in the case of data backup and recovery, get back to business.
Most businesses will lose valuable data at some point. This could be through hardware failure, accidental deletion, file corruption, viruses, hackers, stolen equipment or natural disasters. But many businesses are not prepared for disaster – and the consequences could be devastating.
Recent Symantec research found that more than 40% of businesses have lost data in the cloud and that 68% have experienced a recovery failure in the cloud. If this wasn’t concerning enough, consider that 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within six months of the disaster and 93% will file for bankruptcy within a year if they are unable to recover within 10 days.
It’s about recovery
The conversation around data protection is too often around backup. But backup is only half the equation. What happens when something goes wrong and that data needs to be recovered – and how long will it take?
As data volumes grow, it becomes challenging for businesses to manage their own backup and recovery requirements. The cost of infrastructure, skills, maintenance and storage can be exorbitant, while the task itself diverts attention from the core business.
Service providers, on the other hand, are experienced in maintaining and supporting backup infrastructure. They can assist organisations with implementing the required technology and provide them with the tools they need to manage their backups.
It’s about trust
Ultimately, it all comes down to trust. Trust in the service provider and its technology. Trust in the security and the contract. And trust in the value you’re getting from the service provider.
A competent service provider should be able to meet your needs by leveraging the right technology, providing support and offering value beyond the software.
Ask the right questions
When assessing prospective cloud backup service providers, ensure they:
· Have a good reputation and have been in business for a while
· Have experience in your industry or vertical
· Are familiar with the laws and standards of your industry
When assessing the service provider’s technology, ask:
· What technology the service is based on and if it’s customisable
· If the technology is truly business class or if it’s just a business version of a consumer service
· If it requires monitoring or intervention
· How backups will affect your daily operations
· Whether the solution will truly provide a single pane of glass to control your critical data, or if you still have to rely on other solutions
· If the solution allows for quick restore of a local copy or even a single file if required
· If the technology works well with your operating system, applications and services and works with remote offices and different devices
· If it is easy to configure and maintain without technical knowledge
· If there’s 24x7 support
When assessing security, ask:
· How the service provider ensures data security
· If the service has been tested and sanctioned by credible third parties
· If it complies with laws and standards of your industry
· If it is certified by a standards organisation to ensure security against data theft
· If the service provider has a disaster recovery plan in case of disruption at one of its data centres
Make sure you’re getting the best value:
· Different pricing should be applied to different data, e.g. it should be cheaper to back up archival data than it is to back up business-critical data
· You should benefit from discounts for increasing data volumes or leverage a fairer pricing model based on how little you recover
· Your solution should be customisable, i.e. it should accommodate a mix of systems (public, private, hybrid) and the service provider should be able to assist you in building your own backup storage architecture
· You should be able to customise the service level agreement to meet your specific needs, including negotiating your own recovery time objective and recovery point objectives
Underlying all this is efficient customer service. The service provider should be able to help with the migration from your existing backup platform and should offer a test drive so that you can experience the backup and recovery process. There should also be assurance that your business, no matter how small, will receive the same attention as a larger client in the case of a disaster, e.g. a massive virus attack that affects numerous clients.
Most importantly, the service provider should understand your business, including your challenges, goals and IT staffing and competency levels and work with you to lower your operational and management costs.
Choosing a cloud backup service provider is a decision that should not be taken lightly. If anything goes wrong, your business is ultimately in their hands. You should be confident enough to trust that they will quickly get you up and running without losing a single file – all while saving you money, protecting your information and tailoring their service and solutions to suit your requirements.