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The DRs of Business Continuity

Posted by Jon Ryan on Jan 3, 2014 4:15:00 PM

Cloud BackupIn the ever changing technology of the digital world, company data has become one of the most important parts of a successful business.  Not only the retention of data but also having reliable access to it. Imagine this scenario: Your business has multiple locations in the Mid-West that access data from a core location. A power grid goes offline due to iced up lines. How does that affect all locations? Are you prepared for this today? Or do you just plan to react to it when it happens? Take into account this scenario: Suddenly you are unable to access your data on your server. With the recent growth of RansomWare (where your data is held hostage by hackers) are you protected, and how do you continue to do business? Or even in the case of everyday hardware failure, are you backing up your data, and if so, what level of redundancy do you have to be able to access it?

It is easy for a business to have a false sense of security when it comes to their data. Having a firewall or anti-virus program is not enough protection from everyday threats. It is absolutely imperative to have a Data Backup & Recovery and Disaster Recovery plan to ensure the highest level of protection. Two of the DR’s of business continuity. Let’s take a look at what Disaster Recovery and Data Recovery really are.

Data Recovery

Probably the most common form of business continuity practiced, Data Backup and Recovery is the most affordable way to protect your business from a catastrophic event. But many people don’t truly understand that there is more to just backing up data than copying it to a network share.

In a typical Data Backup and Recovery solution, the best practice is to write the backups to a local device such as a NAS or External Hard Drive. These backups allow you to take advantage of two levels of protection: server drive RAID failure protection; and local file recovery from an external source. In this example if your server were to crash you would still be able to recover files from a second source.

Any type of backup is better than having nothing, but to achieve a higher level of business continuity you should also have a Disaster Recovery plan as well. What if your building experiences a fire, break in, or natural disaster? Your onsite backup will not be enough to continue operating your business at a normal level. That’s where Disaster Recovery comes into play.

Disaster Recovery

“It will never happen to us.” “What is really the likelihood of a tornado hitting our building?” “I have a hard time justifying the additional cost of Data and Disaster Recovery.” All responses to the question of Disaster Recovery protection.

Disaster Recovery allows companies to save data to an offsite location for just that reason. It is a best practice to save data locally for fast recovery and offsite for disaster recovery. The traditional way to achieve this was to copy data to tape drives and store a daily backup offsite. Cloud technology allows you to get rid of the time and security risk of tape drives.  Now that you have a disaster recovery option and a way to store your data locally and offsite, how do you keep your company processing data with no interruptions in the event you are unable to access your data? 

Data Replication

Data ReplicationIn the ice storm scenario above we discussed multiple locations accessing data from a core business location. If one of the external locations goes down, that location alone is only affected. But if your core server location goes down, all external locations are unable to access the core server data and applications.  The only way to achieve high availability of your data is to replicate it to a second location. 

Data and Compute Replication is a technology that allows you to make a copy of your core server data and applications and place it on hardware at a second site. The second site is usually the site with the best network connectivity the furthest away from the core site. With failover technologies, if the core server goes down, the system automatically fails over to the DR site.  This allows all other locations to continue to access data and applications while the core site recovers from the event. This solution can also act as your Disaster Recovery Data Solution but would also want to be tied to a separate local Data Backup solution for faster file recovery in the event of lost data. 

Conclusion

Now that we’ve given you some ideas and options to improve your business continuity, where do you go from here? A data backup and recovery assessment might be necessary to review your current solution to determine which of the three DR’s you have or need. Contact us to discuss your infrastructure and business continuity plan to see where you stand.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc.

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Data Backup, Disaster Recovery, Cloud backups, Business Continuity

Key Disaster Recovery Planning Questions

Posted by Ben Carlsrud on Mar 8, 2013 4:58:00 PM

disaster recovery planningWe’ve all seen the disaster movie where twisters, asteroids, floods, tsunamis, volcanoes and earthquakes cause major destruction and life has to go on. What is your organization doing to prepare in case disaster strikes?

As with anything, it’s just a matter of time before you may be restoring a file, an application, a server or recovering from a natural disaster. A lot of decision makers within an organization approach DR like they would some type of insurance. Some see the value and some don’t.  Many times we hear the statement, “Heck, we’ve been backing up to the same tape or hard drive for as long as we can remember and we’ve never had any problems. Why would we change?” Eventually something is going to happen and if you’re not prepared for it, you may experience a RGE (Resume Generating Event). 

There is simply too much technology stuff that can go into an organizations DR plan to be discussed here but I’ll give you some ideas and questions to think about that will help you start the process and allow you to be more prepared when it comes to defining and implementing a DR plan for your organization.

One of the first things any organization should do is classify their data. What I mean by this is define the most important data to the least important data. You can lump them into groups like Gold, Silver and Bronze. You may find that you have more or less groups depending on the types of data you have.

Once you have classified your data, sit back and ask yourself some questions about the data in those classifications. 

  • How long can you be without access to that data?
  • What happens if we lose that data? 
  • What are the ramifications to your customers trying to do business with you? 
  • What is the cost to recreate the data if we cannot recover it, if even possible?

disaster recoveryNot a very long list and definitely not conclusive, but it's a start. Once you come up with those answers put some dollar costs to them. This will allow you to give yourself a good idea about what a disaster can cost you when it comes time to designing a solution. If you find that costs are $10,000 it probably doesn’t make sense to spend $100,000 on a solution, but if you find that losing certain categories of data could mean the end of your business you may find that you have a much larger budget to work with.

One of the next things to think about is what resources are available.

  • Do you have another site that can be used to replicate your data and services to?
  • What connectivity options do you have available at your facilities?
  • What kind of bandwidth can you get at these facilities?
  • What staffing do you have available to take ownership of daily responsibilities?

Again, not a very long list of questions but once you come with answers to these questions, you can start to envision what a solution may look like. 

You may have noticed I have not mentioned anything about tape, disk, de-duplication, cloud or really any technology. That’s where an organization, like NetWork Center, Inc., working with you helps educate, define and plan a solution that meets the needs of your organization.  The above questions are the first steps of many in designing a solution that could use multiple technologies to meet an organizations needs.

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Disaster Recovery

4 Keys to Safer Email

Posted by Sean Todd on Nov 6, 2012 10:58:00 AM

Over the last two decades, email communication has become one of the most important means of business communication. During this time, we’ve learned a lot about how end-users typically use this communication both positively and negatively, and how 3rd parties try to exploit it.

email security1. Email Communication – Email in the traditional sense is an insecure medium, meaning that your message including attachments can be intercepted and read by 3rd parties on the internet. Think about hackers, scammers, and it’s only when we add security layers that we are able to encrypt and secure our messages from end-to-end.

There are other ways we can ensure our communications are secure:

  • The use of an email encryption service. 
  • Password protecting your attachments with the highest encryption available. 
  • Sharing files using a 3rd party secure file transfer.

2. Email Continuity – What happens if my server crashes? How long will I be without email?
How about if I lose internet connectivity, what happens to my email if it can’t get to my server? 

  • By using an email continuity service you greatly reduce if not eliminate the business impact of a server outage. For example, if your central mail server crashes or you lose internet to your mail server and you do not have any kind of email continuity service, you run the risk of mail being extremely delayed, or returned to the sender as undeliverable email continuitycausing you to lose out on important business communications.
  • With email continuity, your mail is spooled on a remote server in the cloud, and if your mail server failed, your end users can simply log into a portal to send and receive emails until your email server comes back online, at which time the portal would sync up with your mail server and things would return to normal. If you completely lost internet, those messages destined to your mail server would simply spool up in the cloud as opposed to being returned to sender. Once the internet came back online, that email would slowly be pushed into the mail server and things would return to normal.

3. Data Loss Protection - Ever worry about proprietary business or confidential client data being leaked and end up in the wrong hands?

  • As much as we trust our end users, mistakes happen. By implementing Data Loss Protection (DLP) you add a layer of security around your information.
  • How Data Loss Protection (DLP) works: you define a set of criteria that essentially triggers either an email block or email encryption, then your email is handled accordingly. An example of information that would trigger an action could be a bank routing number, social security number, or other keywords that directly relate to your business or industry.
  • Without this type of protection, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to the human element. We are human, and we make mistakes.

4. Email Archiving – Email archiving can be important for a variety of reasons, and depending
on your industry or even disaster recovery plan, your specific needs could be different. Some specifics are:

  • email archivingCompliance – Banking, Legal, and Healthcare aren’t the only industries who should be thinking about email retention periods. Any business could find themselves in a situation where the need to locate and produce an email that happened several years prior. Without it, it becomes the said/she said, and you may be on the losing end of the battle. 
  • Disaster Recovery – Email archiving provides a means in which to recover should the worst happen. Should you find yourself in a situation where you lost both your server and primary backup, an email archiving solution provides another layer of disaster recovery.
  • Storage – In a data driven world, almost everything is electronic. Wouldn’t it be nice to free up costly server space? With archiving you offload data to an environment where someone else is maintaining it, and if/when you require it, you can simply log into a portal to find what you need and bring it back.

With our business and personal lives becoming so dependent on electronic communication, it’s imperative that we continually review our email practices. What may have been acceptable 5 years may no longer be relevant, and as laws change, so does our responsibility. Be proactive and protect yourself before it’s too late.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc. to review your current email security. Together we can protect your business critical emails.  

 

Contact Us Today!

 

 

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Email Security, Disaster Recovery, Email Encryption, Email Continuity

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