12 Days of Data Management and Protection
The festive period is fast approaching, and many organizations will slow if not stop during the festivities. But for IT teams, it’s not that simple. In a world where business is increasingly 24/7, IT teams need to ensure that systems are kept online and protected, as well as being prepared for a potential disaster or outage. Over almost 20 years, Redstor has learnt a thing or two about data management and how to successfully protect systems. We’ve broken down some of our top-tips into 12 simple steps, one for each of the 12 days of Christmas.
Backup is one of the overriding principles of data management and protection. While it may not stop an outage or disaster from occurring, it is often the first port of call when something goes wrong and data or systems must be recovered. However, a bad backup solution is likely to increase problems, potentially costing the business thousands (if not more).
Day 1: Wrap up a copy of data off-site
There are dozens of threats that could affect the integrity of your data, so it is vital to ensure a copy is available to recover from when needed. Threats such as ransomware can affect an onsite copy of data, such as a backup server or network attached storage, so having a secure off-site copy will remedy this pain.
Day 2: Use Encryption
Data is increasingly becoming a commodity, its value to a business will ultimately depend on its use but the cost of unauthorized access will always have a negative impact on business. Ensuring that savvy cyber-criminals can’t access it will not only improve peace of mind but is best practice for all organizations. Encryption is a great method of ensuring that even if data does fall into the wrong hands, it cannot be accessed or used.
Day 3: Recovery options
A backup is only as good as its ability to restore. Seems simple, right? But when you need it most, having options on how to restore your data can be vital. Having to wait for a full backup image to restore just to access a single file is going to waste time, just as having to wait to retrieve physical backup media will too. Cloud backup solutions, will more often than not give different availability for restoring data and all that’s needed is an internet connection.
Backup may be good for getting data back quickly, and is great for single item or file restores, but what happens if all your data is lost or corrupted. Time for some disaster recovery.
Day 4: DR Planning
Successful disaster recovery requires planning, as larger volumes of data will have to be recovered and dependant on what the nature of the disaster is, there may not be infrastructure left to recover it to. Aspects that must be covered in a DR plan include, which data and users to recover first, which methods of recovery will be most suitable and how long the organization will allow for this process to take place.
Day 5: RTO’s and RPO’s
Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point objectives, lay out the time taken to recover data and the age of the data recovered. These should be aligned with acceptable downtime for the organization and consider the recovery methods that will be used. For larger organizations, it is likely that different data sets will have different RTOs and RPOs.
Day 6: Choosing the right suppliers
Working with the right suppliers and vendors can ease the disaster recovery process greatly and not just software providers. A disaster like a fire or flood could render an entire site inaccessible, meaning that there is a need for new equipment, chairs, desks and IT equipment alike. The right suppliers will have provision to act quickly in this event and assist where they can in getting you back up and running.
Day 7: Testing
Spending hours on end, planning how to recover from a disaster is well and good but theory can only go so far. It’s important to test a DR plan at least once a year, ensuring it will work when needed and improving aspects that could have a negative impact on the plan when it has to be put into place. It’s important to gain an understanding of whether the RTOs and RPOs that have been set, can be met.
Management of Data
Day 8: Data lifecycle management
Keeping data securely protected requires different methods throughout different points in its lifecycle. It is also important to identify the process for securely removing data when it reaches the end of its lifecycle. Keeping data past its useful lifecycle, will take up valuable space on primary storage and can present compliance challenges as well as increasing some risks associated with data breach.
Day 9: Compliance with data protection laws
Data protection laws set out the legal requirements for how organizations, protect and manage data. In 2018, there is set to be a shake up of these with the General Data Protection Regulation set to take effect. This new regulation is set to strengthen the rights of individuals and the data that applies to them – giving businesses a new onus to ensure a data breach cannot occur.
Day10: Archive data
Data builds up over time and often organizations suffer with ROT data (redundant, obsolete, trivial), that holds no value but takes up space on primary storage, causes inefficiencies and pushing storage to its capacity. Implementing archive policies will help to clean up data making storage platforms more efficient and improving lifespan.
Day 11: Centralised Management
Organizations vary in size and scale, but an aspect of data management that many struggle with is having a split infrastructure and various systems to attempt to tie together. Finding a solution that will allow for the centralised management of data allows for more accurate reporting to be done and makes it much easier to protect the data.
Day 12: Automation
Human error is still one of the largest risks to data of all kinds. By automating processes where possible, organizations can ensure that the business policies on data are met and they can also present time savings.
Get your backup and disaster recovery provisions wrapped up in time for Christmas
With Christmas and the festive period around the corner, it’s important to ensure that your data protection provisions are reliable enough to get you through. A white Christmas may be dreamy for some, but for an IT Manager having to manually backup or recover data, being snowed in will leave you snowed under, risking data loss and downtime for the business.
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