Connecticut has big data backup requirements. With a large concentration of financial service, legal, healthcare, education, and government organizations generating many terabytes of valuable data, the state is frequently targeted by cyber criminals. It also experiences a significant number of natural emergencies whether they are caused by snowstorms, hurricanes, floods, fires or any number of totally unexpected circumstances.

Timely data backups are essential so operations can resume as soon as possible after a disruption. But just having a current copy of your data does not guarantee you will be able to successfully recover. Successful restoral, in case of an actual disaster, requires having adopted and successfully managing a dependable data backup and recovery solution.

It also is important to test the process periodically. There are many examples of organizations that were unable to recover their backup successfully when they were under the gun. In fact, a recent survey by Hanover Research of two hundred large and mid-sized companies in the U.S found that 64% were unable to recover their data when they needed to; even though they had a backup system in place.

There are a wide variety of available backup technologies ranging from inexpensive consumer products that backup an individual computer to sophisticated enterprise level solutions that are designed to backup thousands of servers across a large distributed network with the ability to restore one or more Virtual Machines (VMs) or an individual file in minutes.

There are five variables to consider when selecting an appropriate data backup and recovery solution-

  1. Effectiveness
  2. Labor Requirements
  3. Security
  4. Support
  5. Cost

Effectiveness means how likely will it be you recover your required data in a timely manner? In general, the faster the recovery, the more expensive the solution. Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) define how much data you are willing to risk and how fast you expect to recover.

Backup solutions vary in the amount of manual effort required. Some systems are very labor intensive. This not only adds expense, it also can impact effectiveness if individuals fail to perform their assigned backup duties. The additional cost of automated solutions is typically justified by higher availability.

Different backup solutions provide different levels of data security. A backup solution that easily can be breached would add insult to injury. Sophisticated systems employ encryption and other technologies to mitigate security risks.

The level of support provided also varies. It is important to understand who will be responsible for functions like training, initial set-up and configuration, ongoing monitoring, periodic testing and recovery during a disaster.

Though cost is listed last on our list, it is probably a much higher priority for most organizations in Connecticut. Data backup and recovery is one of the budget items that is often underfunded. Afterall, what are the chances? Given the dramatic rise in cyber crime and the growing number of horror stories of the dire consequences suffered by organizations unable to recover their data, senior management is starting to recognize the business case for funding an appropriate backup and recovery solution.

There are many different backup options. They all have their pros and cons depending on which of the five variables listed previously is a priority. In all cases, a 3-2-1 backup architecture is recommended by industry professionals. There should be 3 different backups on 2 different storage media with one offsite backup location as part of the solution.

Here are the various options for offsite backup-

Employee Home — A disk or tape copy is made at the office and stored at an employee’s home. This very low-cost solution has below average effectiveness, is labor intensive, provides moderate security, and offers minimal support.

Another Office — Backups are sent or hand carried to another office. This is also a low-cost option. Depending on how the data is backed-up, it can be moderately effective and not very labor intensive. However, most offices are not very secure and lack redundant power and internet services. Security at most offices is acceptable but support may be limited depending on the solution employed.

Consumer Services — Small offices frequently employ services such as Carbonite, Backblaze, or IDrive. These are cost-effective but are typically used to backup individual PCs. They have limited ability to manage multiple servers and VMs and are not recommended for enterprise level requirements.

Public Cloud — Backing-up data to a Public Cloud such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud is initially very cost-effective. However, the initial “Seeding” where the complete backup, often many terabytes in size, is copied can be problematic depending on available bandwidth. It can literally take weeks to upload the original data. As an alternative, a mass data storage device may be loaded with the initial backup and shipped to the Public Cloud facility for the initial seeding. After initial seeding the amount of backup data to be transferred drops significantly. Most backup technologies employ techniques that only send the data changed since the previous backup. Public Cloud solutions are also famous for their exorbitant egress fees. A large data extraction such as would be required in a recovery exercise can be very costly. Finally, Public Cloud providers provide limited support. The responsibility for configuring a secure backup is with the customer. Public Cloud providers do not assist with testing and will not provide help during an emergency.

Local Data Center. — A local data center can provide a very effective and high security off-site data backup that is moderately priced. These facilities have professionals to assist in set-up, testing and recovery thus minimizing labor requirements and providing maximum support. Local data centers can also make the initial data seeding much easier since a large data storage device can be driven to the data center to load the backup on the data center’s storage systems. The personalized support provided by a local data center is very important when implementing a data backup solution; especially during testing and recovery operations.

CAPS has many years’ experience providing customized data backup solutions to its clients. From its secure local data center (SSAE 2018) in Shelton, CAPS’ professionals have helped clients install, configure and test a variety of data backup solutions. The CAPS’ team has supported proprietary data backup solutions in addition to assisting clients to employ advanced technologies from Datto and Veeam. CAPS also partners with its sister company, Blue Hill Data Services, to offer additional off-site data backup and recovery solutions.