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Cloud-based backup and disaster recover i

Cloud-based Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning – The Essentials

Because data is the lifeblood of your business, you need to ensure it is always protected against loss. This short guide will take you through the essentials of planning your data protection strategy and explores the options for cloud-based backup and disaster recovery solutions.

Technology choices

Backup and disaster recovery (DR) are similar – but different – concepts, designed to protect your data against loss. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably (even by technology vendors), you must know the difference to ensure you choose the right systems for you.

Do I need backup?

Backup technologies are designed to create an exact copy of your data so that you can always restore it in the event of a major problem. If your file server is infected by ransomware, backup allows you to recover affected files quickly and efficiently. This technology is particularly well suited to lower-priority data sets and systems.

Do I need Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery technologies are typically focused on helping your business resume operations as quickly as possible after a significant outage. Data from your mission-critical systems will be continuously replicated to the cloud (or similar off-site facility), allowing you to bring operations back online quickly.

Backup and disaster recovery (DR) are similar – but different – concepts. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably (even by technology vendors), you must know the difference to ensure you choose the right systems for you. You will probably need a combination of both – backup for low-priority systems, DR for the most important.

Building a workable plan

A successful plan relies on knowing what data you have and how important it is to your operations. Prioritising data will help you decide how it should be backed up and recovered.

Assessing RTO

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) describes the amount of time between your systems going down and you bringing them back online again. For mission-critical systems, your RTO targets must be as low as possible – perhaps just minutes – so you can restart operations quickly.

Systems with a high RTO are best suited to cloud-based disaster recovery solutions that offer near-instant fail-over capabilities.

Assessing RPO

Recovery Point Objective measures how much data is lost when your systems go offline. Some of your line-of-business applications will be updating constantly; any updates during a period of downtime may be lost entirely. Other systems update far less frequently – a few hours of downtime would not cause any data loss.

Systems with a low RPO are best suited to DR technologies that offer instant replication to ensure every detail is captured and protected. Higher RPO data can be used with lower-cost traditional backup mechanisms.

Replaceability and interdependence

As you assess your data estate, you need to answer two questions:

  • How easily can we replace lost data?
  • How does each application relate to the others?

Some data is more important to operations than others. Your financial data is essential – the CFO’s financial modelling spreadsheet for the financial year 1998/99 not so much. Plan your backups so that critical data is prioritised and protected accordingly.

Second, don’t forget to assess the interdependence between systems. Sometimes rarely-used systems underpin your mission-critical apps. If the ‘unimportant’ system is not backed up correctly, it’s more important sibling will be unusable. Both systems need similar levels of protection to avoid these problems.

Implementing backup

A good backup plan has three key elements:

  • Retain at least three copies of your data
  • Data is stored on two different media
  • At least one of your backup copies is stored offsite

Cloud backup solutions make this process incredibly simple, with many services offering multiple versions for restore. And because the data is stored offsite, it takes care of media and geography concerns.

Implementing disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is all about restoring operations as quickly as possible. In most cases, this will be in the form of a co-located data centre or cloud-based platform.

When choosing a partner, consider:

  • Are their replication capabilities sufficient to prevent data loss?
  • Do they offer tools and support to manage the post-failover and fail-back processes?
  • Do they offer a pricing model that aligns with your budgets?

Again, cloud technologies offer a good level of protection, flexibility and scalability that is more suitable for most businesses than a traditional co-location setup.

Testing your provisions

Replicating and backing up data is relatively easy – but can you recover it when needed? The final stage of any backup and disaster recovery plan is to test that your fail-over and recovery systems work.

Essentially, you need to be sure that your RTO and RPO goals can be met. This will mean testing backup mechanisms to ensure data can be properly restored within the specified timeframes. Similarly, you will need to trigger a live failover event periodically to confirm DR resources kick in as expected and any disruption falls within acceptable boundaries.

Through testing, you will identify weaknesses and opportunities for improvement before encountering a show-stopping outage.

Get in touch

For more help and advice about Cloud-based Backup and Disaster Recovery technologies that help protect your business against disruption and data loss, please get in get in touch.

Office 365

Three ways your Office 365 data is at risk – and one solution to them all

Office 365 remains the world’s most popular productivity platform for several reasons. As well as providing the tools required to complete most basic productivity tasks, the subscription model helps businesses better manage their capital spend. And because files and documents are synced to the cloud, Office 365 offers some degree of improved resilience.

But there are still three ways in which your Office 365 service is as risk.

Threat 1: Ransomware

Ransomware continues to grow in popularity with cybercriminals because it works. Infecting a victim’s computer and encrypting their files is a superb way to get their attention. Demanding a ransom in untraceable digital currency in order to obtain the decryption keys is highly effective – and profitable.

In the event that computers within your network are successfully attacked by malware, your Office 365 data is at risk. As documents are encrypted, those changes are synchronised to the cloud, overwriting good data with bad.

Threat 2: Insider Threats

Every IT manager’s worst nightmare is the disgruntled employee. Whether they go out with a bang or wage a long-term guerrilla campaign, these individuals have the potential to cause lasting damage to the business.

Without add-on protections, users can delete important files and emails locally and in the Office 365 cloud. If their actions are not discovered for some time, the missing data may not be recoverable – particularly as Office 365 only retains backups for 30 days.

Threat 3: Accidents

A careless click here, a mis-key there. Deleting and overwriting emails and files is so simple, we’ve all done it before. And with every change automatically synced locally and to the cloud, the mistake is also replicated.

But the damage can be just as severe as malware or malicious activity if it goes unnoticed. Again, the 30 day ‘grace’ period provided with Office 365 deleted files may not be enough.

Cloud-based backup for your cloud-based Office 365 data

WTL offers a solution designed to counter all three of these risks. Our Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365 solution uses Veeam replication technologies to copy your files and emails to our secure cloud space automatically.

Just like any other ‘true’ backup solution, Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365 offers incremental backups that can be stored for months or years. So if data is deleted or corrupted, you can recover files long after the 30-day limit imposed by Microsoft.

Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365 also offers a range of recovery options according to your strategic needs. Take Exchange for instance – you can restore deleted mailbox data, export a mailbox for reimport as a PST, save specific messages as MSG files or forward emails as attachments to another address.

Flexible options allow you to increase the accuracy and speed of recovery – and minimise the impact of Office 365 (temporary) data loss. For more information about Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365, please get in touch.

IT resilience

Cost savings and benefits enabled by an IT resilience platform

The always-on nature of modern business means that the cost of downtime has increased exponentially in recent years. The need to restore operations quickly and the complexity of the modern hybrid computing environment means that traditional backup mechanisms are unable to keep pace.

IT resilience platforms like Zerto overcome these shortcomings, allowing businesses to better protect their operations from failure – and to recover quickly in the event of an outage. Indeed, the benefits of IT resilience platforms are substantial.

Reducing downtime and outage costs

Even in a 99.999% uptime environment, downtime is still a reality. Forrester Research estimates costs of more than £7000 every hour that systems are down – including planned maintenance. Avoiding unplanned downtime is vital – as is reducing the window of time required for planned maintenance.

According to the same Forrester report, the Zerto IT resilience plan delivers savings of £1.8m on unplanned downtime during the first three years after implementation. This is in addition to a further £695k saving realised by simplifying the process of deploying upgrades, patches and migrations.

Consolidate DR and backup tools

Zerto offers a chance to consolidate numerous operations management tools – backup, disaster recovery, staging, deployment etc – into a single application. This consolidation reduces application purchasing, licensing and maintenance fees – by more than £560k.

Simplify disaster recovery and backup operations

Disaster recovery and backup routines are only as good as the testing that ensures everything is working correctly. Although vital, these tests can be time and resource intensive, consuming budget that could be better spent on strategic projects.

The Zerto IT resilience platform streamlines many routine backup/DR operations, simplifying the testing process and reducing the burden on the IT team.

Streamline technology migrations

Technology migrations are a major undertaking, usually involving many months of planning, testing and staggered rollouts. An IT resilience platform can help to simplify the migration process, particularly when using cloud services.

Zerto has been shown to achieve no data loss and near-zero recovery point objectives using change-block tracking during the move.

Conclusion

The Zerto IT resilience platform improves the data security of your business and allows your team to be more productive through automation. With deeper insights comes greater control, allowing your IT to flex and adapt as business needs change.

Zerto also offers significant cost savings. In total, Forrester calculate an average ROI of 279% realised over three years. This represents a sizeable proportion of IT budget that can be reclaimed for investment in other strategic projects. And with the power and reliability of continuous data protection, Zerto makes it easier for your business to embrace the fail-faster AGILE model – without concerns about the impact testing and development has on operations.

To learn more about continuous data protection, IT resilience platforms and what Zerto can do for your business, please get in touch.

Fujitsu SPARC servers

5 Reasons to consolidate your Solaris workloads on Fujitsu SPARC

There are two certainties in computing. First, the volume of data you hold will continue to grow exponentially. Second, your business will need to put that data to work to increase efficiency, develop new products and services, better serve your customers and strengthen profits.

For Solaris workloads, this will require new levels of scalability and flexibility, reliability and manageability and high performance. And this is where Fujitsu SPARC M10 and M12 servers can assist.

Features like the SPARC XII processor, Software on Chip architecture and a modular design will help businesses achieve more. But more than simply replacing existing hardware, M10 and M12 servers also offer opportunities to consolidate your Solaris workloads – but why would you want to?

1. Reduce running costs

Put simply, fewer machines means lower running costs. More efficient processor architecture means you can achieve more – and reduce power and cooling requirements. A smaller IT estate is also simpler to manage, requiring less intervention and support, freeing your engineers to focus on other strategic projects – or to reduce headcount if appropriate.

2. Reduce licensing costs

Every server requires a license of some kind – usually several – for OS, software and various client access rights. It makes sense that fewer servers, require fewer licenses, incurring fewer costs. Even if your new Fujitsu SPARC servers require additional per-core licensing, fewer physical machines are still easier to manage. This will make it far easier to ensure you have the correct level of coverage and avoid over/underspend – and to avoid fines for non-compliance.

3. Maximise ROI

Reducing operating, management and licensing costs all help to lower the total cost of ownership of consolidated Fujitsu SPARC servers. Which leaves plenty of potential to maximise return on investment moving forwards.

4. Maximise resource use

Consolidating servers encourages architecture design that maximises the use of available resources – and ROI. Carefully balancing workloads delivers superior performance and avoids unnecessary upgrades by using what you already have available in your Fujitsu SPARC servers – Oracle Solaris Zones are designed specifically for this purpose.

5. Simplify upgrade planning

Fujitsu M12 and M10 servers are specifically designed to be modular. As your Solaris data estate and processing needs grow, you can connect more SPARC servers to add additional capacity quickly and easily. This ‘building block’ approach to infrastructure offers a clear upgrade path for the future. And because the technology is already familiar, there’s no need to retrain – your engineers and developers will be able to hit the ground running.

Shrink to grow

Consolidating Solaris workloads with Fujitsu SPARC servers allows you to shrink your Solaris data centre footprint and grow your computing capabilities. We’ve outlined five good reasons to consider Fujitsu M12 and 10 servers here – but others may apply to your business – drop us a line to find out more.

NetApp Scale-out NAS

Why NetApp Scale-out NAS: The best hybrid cloud solution

Organisations are increasingly adopting “cloud-first” strategies as a way to maximise operational flexibility and simplify the process of scaling resources on demand. But the reality is that not all workloads and data are suited to the cloud, which means that network-attached storage will continue to be important for the foreseeable future.

Not all network-attached storage (NAS) is created equal, however. Your choice of NAS solution will have implications for IT strategy (including cloud), either creating new opportunities or limiting choices in future.

This is why you should seriously consider NetApp Scale-out NAS which has been identified as the scale-out storage industry leader by IDC.

Seamless cloud integration

The foreseeable future of IT remains hybrid, with some resources hosted on-premise and some in the cloud. However, the choice of technology will play an important role in how your organisation takes advantage of this hybrid setup.

Choosing NetApp NAS technology with StorageGrid management tools will allow you to automatically migrate workloads between storage tiers (including cloud) for maximum price-to-performance value. In this scenario, data access is seamless, regardless of physical location.

NetApp NAS users also benefit from a clear migration path when they do choose to move more of their workloads to the cloud permanently. NetApp file-based storage (FBS) and ONTAP management software can be used with popular public cloud services (AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google) for maximum flexibility – and to avoid vendor lock-in.

AI-powered storage

Moving data manually between tiers is a major operational overhead, losing many of the cost benefits of doing so. NetApp NAS users can rely on ActiveIQ AIOps to automate the process of moving data from high-performance on-premise all-flash arrays to lower-cost cold storage in the cloud.

ActiveIQ also optimises the environment automatically, compressing and deduping data to maximise storage potential and performance. This allows NetApp users to control costs and extend the lifespan of their storage assets.

Enhanced hybrid security

ONTAP data security, included with NetApp NAS solutions, offers exceptional protection for your data – wherever it is located. Choosing NetApp extends enterprise-grade security across your entire storage estate – including encrypting data at rest and in transit.

ONTAP also offers granular protection against malicious deletions and data loss. Users can define appropriate retention standards to meet legal, industry and internal compliance requirements.

Planning for the future

As an industry leader in the field of network-attached storage, NetApp NAS products bring together cutting-edge technologies with intelligent automation to build a future-ready platform for growth.

When combined with ONTAP enterprise data management software, you can simplify and modernise storage – even though a hybrid environment would normally add complexity to management and operations.

IDC analysts are clear: Customers in need of an FBS on-premises and hybrid cloud strategy should consider NetApp because of its expanded product portfolio, investment and vision.

To learn more about how industry-leading NetApp Scale-out NAS technologies will help you build a hybrid platform that works – and how WTL can help – please get in touch.

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