This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, Wasabi co-founder and CEO David Friend explores whether a hybrid cloud backup strategy is the ultimate key to data loss prevention.
It’s no secret that data loss can happen to anyone. For the average person using data storage in their day-to-day life, it may have no greater consequence than the loss of some personal photos, missing contact info on their phone, or a few unrecoverable files. But it’s hardly limited to such a small scale, and if not properly prepared for, data loss can devastate entire companies and governments – many of which are more vulnerable than they may realize.
Given the sheer amount of events and threats that can bring about data loss in one form or another, institutions without a plan in place are truly rolling the dice – and the odds aren’t exactly in their favor. Natural disasters, for example, often give no warning, are largely unpreventable, and can put service centers like storage regions out of commission for extended periods of time. Software failures and provider outages, too, can leave users unexpectedly unable to access their data, or even wipe out huge swaths of it. Cyber-crime like ransomware can also be a nasty source of data breaches and cause quite a bit of havoc, but you can read more about that here.
One of the biggest culprits of all, however, is one that no one is safe from; human error. Whether accidentally deleting the wrong files, clicking dodgy links and coming down with a case of malware, or coffee spilled unfortunately close to a crucial bit of hardware, good old-fashioned blunders happen to us all – but when they bring about the loss of important data or services, there isn’t always an “undo” button.
The Real Price of Data Loss
Whatever the cause, there is always a cost. When disaster strikes and an institution experiences an outage, large amounts of valuable data can be lost, to the tune of $161 per lost record (a price tag that has only increased over the years). Some industries in particular are hit even harder: the healthcare field, for instance, loses $499 per record.
But the consequences can extend far beyond just that. Outages for any reason can also lead to lengthy periods of unplanned downtime, halting production, stagnating employee productivity, and disrupting revenue. Though it can vary quite a bit from company to company, such downtime can set businesses back by upwards of $1,400 a minute – and with the average outage lasting around 78 minutes, these costs can stack up. Depending on a company’s size, it can even surge up to $5 million an hour. Given the financial penalty an outage can inflict, being prepared for one is essential.
A Hybrid Cloud Backup Strategy
Though the direct causes of data loss may not be fully preventable, nor reversible, it is possible to substantially limit their effects. First and foremost, any company hoping to secure their data and guarantee its durability needs to prioritize an effective backup strategy. The biggest step one can take towards keeping their data from disastrous loss is ensuring it’s saved, intact, and stored somewhere secure in case it is threatened.
Many organizations have traditionally turned to on-premises storage, as it often allows reliable and on-site retrieval, and doesn’t depend on internet connectivity. Unfortunately, and especially for large enterprise businesses, relying on on-premises storage alone can be limiting. The hardware, the space it occupies, and its ongoing maintenance can be expensive and burdensome at scale, and it’s quite susceptible to physical threats, like natural disasters. It is a prime example of wanting to avoid keeping all of your “eggs” – or in this case, data – in one basket.
Hybrid cloud solutions offer an alternative, enabling companies to supplement their on-premises storage with other cloud-based backups to help mitigate, and even sometimes eliminate, the threat of truly catastrophic data loss on an affordable model. This allows for true protection through storage diversification, which should follow the “three-two-one” model: three copies of data, two of which are on different media formats, and one kept off-site.
Built to scale, a hybrid cloud approach can be easily adapted to fit a company’s needs, and can seamlessly integrate with a number of on-premises solutions (e.g., network-attached storage, direct-attached storage, storage-area networks) to allow users to prioritize what data goes where for maximum accessibility, security, and control. Regular backups to the cloud keep important data safe and up-to-date, and when a data breach does occur, companies using a hybrid cloud solution face the lowest average cost compared to public, private, and solely on-premises models, according to IBM.
Of course, backups aren’t inherently foolproof. Whether the backup isn’t fully completed, a company’s applications aren’t backed up alongside its data, or the backup itself is stored entirely on-premises, even companies careful about their backup strategy tend to miss a spot here and there. While a proper hybrid cloud plan is a step in the right direction, there are a few other actions that can be taken to minimize this.
First would be object-level immutability for storing certain files, ensuring their protection against any kind of tampering – even from those with admin privileges. For a set period of time, your data will be locked in place, safe from threats like wiper malware or encryption by attackers.
But in the event it does happen, companies should be prepared to take immediate action. But how would they know if they’re prepared if they don’t perform routine recovery testing?
Restoring and recovering data while keeping downtime to a minimum is a very lengthy and involved process and not one to be practiced for the first time in a real-life scenario. Though simplified through the cloud, recovery testing is an essential step in making sure IT teams are well-equipped to curtail the expenses and ramifications of data loss of any kind.
As long as data continues to exist, so too will ways to lose it, and as data volumes continue to grow, so do the consequences of their loss. Though there may not be a way to 100 percent guarantee protection from it, an effective strategy for backing up important data is the best possible way to diminish its effects. As more companies come to recognize the hybrid cloud approach for the ideal all-around protection it provides, it’s never too late to make the switch.
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