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Preparing for data disasters

Published: September 7th, 2017 By: Suzanne Robicheau

TeraGo

Only a few years ago, conversations around the importance of data backup focused on natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey. These days, we’re still worried about hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, and wildfires, but discussions about threats to data security more often turn to cyber attacks, equipment failures, power losses and human error.

With so much potential for system-wide disruption and damaged brand reputation, one would imagine that most organizations are well informed about data protection. Not so, says the 2016 edition of the Global Data Protection Index (a global data protection readiness survey). It seems that most organizations are behind the times when it comes to protecting their data. Of the more than 2,200 IT decision makers surveyed, 72 percent had experienced either the loss of data or disaster related downtime, yet only 45 percent of Canadian businesses have a disaster recovery plan in place.

With data growing at unprecedented rates, the potential for loss and associated costs are growing as well. Top-notch engineering didn’t prevent Amazon Web Service’s U.S.-East region from going down. Neither did it keep BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada from falling prey to a scheme that compromised 1.9 million customer e-mail addresses and 1,700 names and phone numbers. According to research conducted by IDC, the average annual cost of unplanned application downtime for Fortune 1000 companies falls somewhere between $1.25 billion and $2.5 billion. Furthermore, research from EMC Global estimates that data loss and the resulting downtime costs the Canadian economy approximately $16 billion each year.

There are no guarantees that even the best systems will prevail against data disasters. There is, however, strong evidence that data protection will safeguard an organization from a host of dangers. Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, for example, presents a compelling case for understanding cyber threats and investing in a modern, solid backup infrastructure.

Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) recognized DRaaS as “a mainstream offering”, yet one which presents many complications for potential customers. The 2017 iteration of this report addresses the complexity of the DRaaS market and helps IT leaders select appropriate vendors based on attributes that include market size, sales channel, recovery orchestration, recovery infrastructure, and support services. DRaaS, according to this 2017 update of the Magic Quadrant, is a $2.02 billion business, with figures expected to rise to $3.73 billion by 2021.

If lost time, cost, and reputation aren’t reason enough to adopt a progressive cloud-based platform for data backup, consider the regulatory framework that governs issues of privacy. In order to satisfy the growing number of requirements for data security, Canadian organizations must comply with four private sector privacy statutes that govern data protection. Organizations that collect, use, and manage personal information must also observe anti-spam legislation (CASL) and have a cohesive backup plan.

According to a Best Practice Guide produced by TeraGo, in partnership with IDC Canada, the first of seven steps in arriving at a disaster recovery strategy is running a risk assessment and a business impact analysis in order to understand what IT services are necessary to support critical business activities. Steps two to seven include defining recovery time objectives (RTOs), developing an easy-to-use process for recovering IT assets, simulating a disaster in order to plan for contingencies, identifying infrastructure and assessing gaps, defining policies and testing frequently, and documenting time to remediation. The Guide also provides a checklist for establishing company-wide objectives that engage multiple stakeholders.

We live in an age when people are quick to insure everything from their health and their teeth to their pets and their holidays, yet a survey conducted by TeraGo and IDC Canada found that only 55% of the Canadian organizations polled were able to identify possible threats to their data. With more on the horizon than hurricanes, savvy IT leaders are looking to cloud-based platforms to safeguard their data, and it can’t come a moment too soon. Natural disasters are just the tip of the iceberg.

Want to learn more about disaster recovery? Download Don’t Leave Your Data to Chance, TeraGo’s best practice e-guide to disaster recovery.