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12 ways to disaster-proof your critical business data

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | March 5, 2014
How can you keep critical data safe when disaster strikes? There is no one magic answer, but there are steps your business can and should take to protect important files and applications in the event of a disaster.

"Don't accept mediocrity when it comes to the speed of recovering your data," adds Jennifer Gill, director of Product Marketing for Zerto, which provides enterprise-class disaster recovery and business continuity software.

"Many companies think a reasonable recovery point objective (RPO, the highest amount of data a company is willing to use) is 24 hours. If the business did actually lose this amount of work/data the impact could be many times the cost of actually implementing any disaster recovery solution," Gill says. "Find a solution that provides continuous data protection and replication with an RPO of just seconds and a recovery time objective (RTO) of minutes."

4. Create a disaster recovery plan — and test it."Have a written disaster recovery plan," says Gill. "It sounds obvious, but with the complexity of the old way of doing replication and disaster recovery, it is very easy to forget the most important aspect of disaster recovery, actually writing down a plan," she says.

"In an ideal world, everything from the replication, management, protection groups, failover and failover testing is managed from one single interface," Gill says. "Specify SLAs for replication, create virtual protection groups, select the VMs to protect and then allow your solution to take care of all the replication in the background."

"Think through the most likely threats to your business, keeping in mind everything from human error to component failure to natural disaster," advises Alan R. Arnold, CTO, Vision Solutions, a provider of cloud protection and recovery, high availability, disaster recovery, migration and cross-platform data sharing solutions.

"Creatively examine options for cost-effectively protecting your data in a place geographically distant from those threats. That may require access to a second data center or a cloud-based strategy," Arnold says. Also, "be sure to account for all servers in your infrastructure (e.g., Windows, Linux, AIX and IBM running on physical virtual and cloud platforms). Your solution must address all server types with off-site protection capabilities."

Then "test this plan multiple times to ensure that it is successful," adds Andrew Gilman, data director, Actifio, a provider of copy data management. "Testing makes all the difference. It will help CIOs work out any kinks in the plan and ensure that they are ready in the event of a data breach or disaster."

5. Make sure sensitive data is properly encrypted."To effectively disaster-proof data, it is important to incorporate encryption into the data backup equation," says April Sage, director, Healthcare IT, Online Tech, a provider of collocation, managed server and cloud hosting solutions.

"A full-scale backup with encryption of the data at rest and in-transit will prevent unauthorized users from gaining access and effectively minimize exposure," she explains. "It is the answer for security-conscious organizations which must follow regulatory frameworks to maintain security of sensitive data. With encryption, security breaches can be prevented and eliminate a media firestorm that leads to credibility and profit loss," she continues. And if you use a cloud-based solution, "ensure the process has been vetted and the encryption keys are not accessible."


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