When was the last time you backed up that server? Last night? Last week? Or maybe 284 days ago? Consider what it does for your business. Consider whether it would be business-as-usual with that server gone. Consider whether you have insurancefor a catastrophic server failure. But most of all, consider having a plan should the unexpected happen. The Business Continuity Plan is the essential lifeboat that would save an otherwise sadly sinking ship.
A business continuity plan is a method of mitigating risks so large that they threaten the health of a business. It is geared towards planning because it aims to put measures in place that can be executed if such a risk is realised. Things like alternate offices, contact persons, key resources and emergency procedures all form part of the plan.
One of the key components of an effective business continuity plan is Systems Recovery. The reason for this is that where a business is reliant on technology for its daily operations, those systems need to be recoverable when an unexpected outage occurs. In order to facilitate such a recovery, a form of redundancy in these systems is required. In the case of IT systems, server backups are crucial. They provide a tangible, measurable, and manageable resource should data be lost during the event. Various methods of server backup exist, ranging from implicit backup like RAID, to scalable and remotely accessible backups in cloud storage, to more locally managed backups stored on dedicated backup servers or even off-site tape backups.
Looking at one of the most common types of servers, a database server is usually at the heart of business operations. Quite often millions of transactions are read from and written to databases (such as SQL or Exchange) which makes it critical in generating the revenue stream. With an ever-increasing emphasis being placed on big data in over 26 industries, 88 percent of companies capitalising on big data leverage off the transactional information it contains (according to a global IBM study in 2012, “Analytics: The real-world use of big data”). The usage escalates dramatically when including other types of information like logs, emails, audio, and sensor data.
Now, considering that in 2013, the Wikibon “Big Data Vendor Revenue and Market Forecast” indicated that nearly 8 billion pounds of revenue was generated globally through the software and services component alone, big data certainly is big business. This should lead us to question the reliability of these servers running the whole shebang. When companies like Oracle, IBM, Cisco, HP, Apple and Google, all functioning in the cloud space (where big data primarily resides), have 4506 out of a total 4794 security vulnerabilities located in their software, it’s worth giving the idea of server backup a second thought.
The threat here is not limited to usage of big data. While increasingly more reliable, cloud storage does appear to be the way of the future. However, small businesses still keep most of their data on-site all the while not realising on-site servers are more vulnerable to targeted hacking attempts and other environmental factors like employee misconduct or natural disasters. Regardless, whether your data is cloud-based or on-site, risks abound and can be mitigated with a well thought out server backup regime.
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