Backup as Part of Your Disaster Recovery Strategy

Backup as Part of Your Disaster Recovery Strategy

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Sarojini Devi Nagappan
25 August 2020

Everyone knows that backups are essential to minimise data loss and downtime in case of any failure. Disaster strike is not predictable, and the threat can be in any form from any source. For example, if it originates from a natural disaster such as flood or earthquake where the entire infrastructure is down, recovery to the normal state might take a longer time. It could be even longer if you have a backup residing in the same location, and it is useless. Therefore having backups alone will not be sufficient, backups should be part of a disaster recovery strategy for proper implementation, monitoring, and execution. A good disaster recovery strategy should talk about backup strategy and disaster recovery. This blog talks about backup and its role in disaster recovery strategy and planning. The discussion also highlights backup as a service and how it will ease the backup process for fast recovery. 

Disaster Recovery Strategy (DRS)

A disaster recovery strategy outlines the plan for an organisation to respond when a disaster occurs. As mentioned earlier, a good disaster recovery strategy should be accompanied by a good disaster recovery plan and a backup strategy. A disaster recovery plan describes how the organisation should respond during the disaster and is derived from the disaster strategy. An organisation should consider many different elements when designing a disaster recovery strategy including technology, compliance, people, and budget. 

Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

There are many different types of disaster recovery plan, but they are very much environment-specific. Below are some of the environment-specific disaster recovery plan and some standard disaster recovery plans mentioned by TechTarget, EmpowerIT Solutions:

  • Virtual DRP: Spin a new virtual machine and provide high availability instantly. Targeted Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) can be achieved if the VM is placed on a recovery center or the cloud.
  • Cloud DRP: With the cloud DRP, you can save cost as the investment in infrastructure is minimal. However, take note that the management of DRP can be tedious; one needs to know the location of physical and virtual serves for quick restoration. Also, the cloud provider should have the capability to support during disaster recovery and guarantee the security of data at all times. 
  • Data Center DRP: This DRP works around a data center facility and infrastructure. As the threat can be on both the data center facility and the infrastructure, it is crucial physical security, support personnel, backup power, HVAC, utility providers, and fire suppression to be part of the DRP. Should there be any threat coming from the building infrastructure, the Data Center DRP should include the recovery steps and policies to avoid further damage to the data center facility. 
  • Cold Site DRP: This is not a popular disaster recovery plan for a business requiring high uptime. A cold site DRP is a plan to set up another temporary site with minimal facility requirements to continue the operation. Cold site disaster recovery plan would be an ideal plan if there were long term damage like a natural disaster where full restoration is not possible immediately. Typically, the recovery, on a cold site, would be around to 3- 5 days.
  • Hot Site DRP: This plan is for organisations with zero tolerance for downtime. In a hot site disaster recovery plan, there is an identical infrastructure setup in a remote location; fully equipped with systems preloaded with apps, data, and security software. In this plan, the backups must be up to date, so when the remote facility is used during recovery, its data state is not aged.
  • Backup Only DRP: This is the bare minimum requirement for any disaster recovery plan. Here backups will be stored in at least three locations or devices which focuses more on securing data.

Backup and Disaster Recovery Strategy

In all the disaster recovery plans, backups play an integral part because there is where your data resides. The correlation between a backup and disaster recovery strategy is prevalent when the decision on the type of data, RTO, and RPO is decided. Following are the importance of having backups as part of disaster recovery strategy and planning:

  • Backup protects the organisation against loss of primary data. For example, if there is a ransomware attack, with a good backup, the organisation does not need to pay any ransom, instead retrieve the backup to restore the important data.
  • Backup ensures data restored is not aged; therefore, applications can continue the operation and manage the minimal loss of data. Also, this helps business recover from any unexpected events.

Since a majority of the organisations rely heavily on applications backed up with the databases, ensuring the safety of data becomes crucial. When developing the disaster recovery strategy, an organisation must allocate the budget for the acquisition of a backup tool along with other resources to support it. When selecting a backup solution as part of the disaster recovery strategy, it should meet criteria like consistent and reliable, can support data redundancy, provide the means of monitoring, and comes with restoration features. A disaster recovery strategy or disaster recovery planning should outline the following details to ensure risk mitigation from the backup perspective: 

  • Data for backup: The volume of data to be stored will decide the storage requirements. 
  • Types of backup: The backup type required for a particular application or the entire system. Ideally, there should be full backup done and then followed by incremental backups or differential backup.
  • Frequency of backup: The frequency of backup comes from RPO, which then translates to the necessary backup schedule.
  • Backup Verification: Although all processes are done, it is always right to test and verify all backups to prevent. The method of verification should be included as part of the checklist so that it will not be forgotten. 

Backup as a Service (BaaS) for Disaster Recovery 

It’s evident, backups are crucial, and it’s better to have this done in an automated way. Not that it’s impossible to be done manually, but most of the time, backups are often ignored or not taken timely. This could be because of the tedious backup scripts for databases, unaware of backup status, or no dedicated person to oversee the backup procedures. Having a backup tool or service would be the best solution to have updated backups as well as keep informed about backup status to avoid surprises during recovery. 

Backup as a Service Benefits

Backup as a Service gives the following advantage to an organisation:

  • Affordability: There is no need to invest upfront on high-end infrastructure, and usually, the payment amount is fixed and charged monthly.
  • Automated backup: There is no need for a dedicated person to watch over the backups. BaaS services usually come with notifications and dashboards allowing you to monitor the status of the backups.
  • Multi Location backup: These days, many vendors offer services to backup your data locally and on the cloud. 
  • Data protection: BaaS providers usually provide different redundancy levels, which means the same set of backup data is kept in multiple locations. 
  • Minimise downtime: With BaaS recovery is always fast. You don’t need to worry about the location of the backup, once you are connected to the service data recovery is almost instantaneous.

Backup as a Service by Backup Ninja

Backup Ninja is a simple and secure backup service, allowing you to backup and restore locally or on the cloud platform. Its key focus is backups for open source database technology like MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, MariaDB, Percona, and Timescale DB. You don’t have to worry about backup scripts anymore, all you need is to have your database servers connected via a bartender agent service. This service will handle all the storage of the fully encrypted backups to the selected cloud provider. With just four clicks you can install and configure the Backup Ninja agent on the server.

Backup as a Service by Backup Ninja

Once you have configured the servers, you can view the server list with information on server status, storage capacity, created data, and so on.

Backup as a Service by Backup Ninja

Next, you can begin scheduling backups on your favourite location. While setting your backup, you can also set the retention time, which will be flagged in the dashboard as the backup is planned to be deleted.

Backup as a Service by Backup Ninja

Backup Ninja’s dashboard gives you an overview of the backups, storage, and server status. Anyone monitoring the backups can have an immediate understanding of the situation and take appropriate action if there is a failure flagged on the dashboard. Besides the panel also gives graphs on backup size and duration.

Backup as a Service by Backup Ninja

To stay updated continuously, you can set the notification you would like to receive in your email using the notifications page. There are three different events groups to configure to receive information.

Backup as a Service by Backup Ninja

Conclusion

Since disaster recovery strategy is essential for SMB or Enterprises; therefore, having a backup is also a necessity to avoid data loss and speed up the recovery process. Backups can be managed manually, but you would need to have a dedicated resource to execute it flawlessly. To avoid unnecessary surprises, it is better to have automated backups or subscribe for backup as a service based on your affordability. When choosing backup as a service from a vendor, don’t only look for a low price tag, instead check if they meet your compliance, security, and recovery time requirement. Look into the details like the data encryption method used, the backup locations, and also if they can meet your RPO and RTO time. If the backup site is too far, there might be delay due to latency and if it's too near, it is vulnerable to the same threat as the primary business location. In conclusion, selecting a perfect backup solution is no easy task, but the time invested in choosing a good one saves much hassle during disaster recovery.