In a time when data backups are an essential part of any organisation or business, it can be hard to choose between hundreds of technologies and the service providers offering them.
Having to “break up” with your managed service provider may seem stressful so it’s important that you choose the right one. For organisations with long term backup retention this is especially true; the likelihood being that with long term retention comes a long-term contract, over a 3 or 5 year period.
Why go to the hassle of reviewing or changing? As with a lot of modern technologies, the speed at which features are being released into backup services and solutions is in no way slowing down. A three-year refresh cycle could see features and functionalities, from virtual disaster recovery to hybrid deployment models, developed that could benefit your organisation.
What questions should you ask when reviewing a new solution and provider?
Following a recent survey of Redstor customers we’ve come up with 5 questions to ask to make sure that you and your backup provider are a match made in heaven.
1. Is the organisation reputable and accredited?
As with the start of any new relationship, you’re going to want to know about the providers reputation and their history. References, customer testimonials and case studies can all give an insight into this however it may be more pertinent to ask about the organisations failures and what may not have gone right in the past.
Accreditations are an important differentiator between potential providers; when it comes to back up an ISO 27001 accreditation ensures that an organisation is recognised for the management of information in a secure manner.
2. Where is the service delivered from and where will data be stored?
Not all services are equal. When reviewing, or comparing backup providers it is important to make sure what you are comparing is like for like, a killer deal on price could tick one box but if the service is delivered from a country thousands of miles away, it could be costly to resolve any issues should something go wrong.
Whether backing up to removable hardware or to an offsite “cloud” solution, an organisation is responsible for where its data is stored as part of compliance and legislation. “The cloud”, a term that is used often but the reality behind the cloud and cloud backups is that data is being stored in a data centre, somewhere. If industry regulation requires data to remain in the UK, then these data centres are no exception.
3. What level of security can I expect from the service?
It’s all well and good knowing that your data is being backed up but what happens if an unauthorised person can gain access to that data. The Data Protection Act (DPA) rules that the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) can fine organisations up to £500,000 for a serious data breach, they also have the power to begin criminal prosecutions.
So how do you ensure that no one can gain access to backup data? Backup data should always be encrypted, especially when it will leave the primary site. Encryption ensure that should your data fall into the wrong hands, it cannot be accessed.
4. What is the support process if I must restore quickly or from a disaster?
Backup is only one half of the scale when weighing up a new service and provider, with recovery giving the balance. A backup is only as good as its recovery. Whether it’s a single file restore or a full server restore understanding how a service provider can help you with this should be an important factor in exploring the new relationship. This is even more true when recovering from a disaster, whether this be flooding, fire or even a total site loss through Ransomware.
Having an effective business continuity plan in place will also save valuable time in helping your organisation get back to operational capacity.
5. What are the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and guarantees in place?
Whether you’re buying a Ford or a Ferrari, you need insurance if something doesn’t go according to plan. If your backup and recovery provider can’t successfully recover your data, what is your insurance? SLAs within your contract or license agreement should cover this, if there aren’t any, is the provider not confident they can recover your data?