Organizations of all shapes and sizes rely on continuous access to data to run their businesses. Despite precautions, this fundamental truth can be sabotaged in many ways, particularly for smaller and mid-size organizations with lighter budgets and resources. Power outages, cyberattacks, data loss, equipment failure, weather and theft are threats for companies and healthcare organizations that rely heavily on data availability. Outages can range from inconvenient to devastating. Data needs to be prioritized, managed, protected, accessible, and transferable to keep operations intact. The realistic window of acceptable downtime is quite small for many applications.
SMB organizations are asking about the best way to systematically harden data protection and take action towards data hyper-availability. Relying on backup tapes to protect your business is no longer enough in an always on, consumer driven world. The opportunity presented by cloud services to protect, prevent, and recover is becoming more and more appealing. Combined with a hands-on, expert advisory team, cloud services nicely fill many data availability needs that have been difficult to achieve in the past, either as a single service or in a tailored combination. Then pay for just what you use – you have a winner.
Business in the Clouds
In fact, it’s time for organizations to think in terms of hyper-available data management. Some organizations interested in cloud services will benefit from “getting started” guidance and planning documents– cloud IT is culturally and financially different. Risks are different. Already leveraging cloud services? Those who have taken initial steps will now want to fine-tune where their workloads reside. For example, they may find that the necessary RPO and RTO of mission critical data is not being met or comes at a high cost .
The “Right Mix” of public, private and hybrid cloud services is not one-size-fits-all, but optimized for the best cost structure, to meet compliance mandates and SLA’s for mission critical and other applications. To further streamline, cloud services can also be customized for where the cloud resides and who manages it.
Cloud Services: Step by Step
Many organizations now find their right combination of performance, speed, ease, management and cost to safeguard their data is best with a selection of cloud-based services. With an ongoing relationship with your cloud service advisors, with a broad offering of services, you have the flexibility to add, subtract, and modify your services and to plan a good road-map together.
Backup as a Service: Less Critical Applications
Backup as a Service (BaaS) is easy to set up as a stand-alone service for a reliable, clean copy of data off-site. BaaS alone is well-suited for those less critical applications that do not need to be immediately restored within tight SLA’s. It’s worth noting that applications such as Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, and OneDrive and many other SaaS applications are not backed up automatically – it’s up to you.
Disaster Recovery as a Service: Critical Applications
Next, think about the acceptable time to restore services for applications in the “critical” category – those applications that need to be available again fast. What is your level of confidence in your ability to restore within that window? Do you need to test against these benchmarks?
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) delivers trusted, highly reliable image-based replication and disaster recovery for ALL applications. Now you can meet RPO’s and RTO’s of critical data, systems, and applications in a private or public cloud. This pay-as-you-go financial model, based on what is actually consumed, creates economic efficiencies. Leveraging a cloud based DR can also lower risk and protect against natural disasters by creating geographically diversified data locations. Finally, moving your operations to a service provider’s cloud provides the chance to reallocate internal resources to focus on current IT needs versus preventative maintenance for operational stability.
Infrastructure as a Service: Get the Job Done Differently
Another consideration is IT’s administrative burden. Both organizations with larger staffs assigned to specific application silo’s and those with smaller staffs who do everything reach a point where something must be done differently to keep up with the workloads.
Intelligent data management includes utilizing reliable infrastructure for day to day operations, and maintaining it at peak performance. With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) organizations bypass the cost and complexity of managing all or part of an in-house data center. Hardware no longer needs to be purchased and installed for each new VM. You pay for exactly what you need – no over-provisioning. Your service provider maintains and provides top of the line equipment – not you.
Your infrastructure team finds time to focus on more strategic initiatives. Optimal performance is ensured with organizational service levels. BaaS or DRaaS can be combined with IaaS, to form a complete solution.
Managed Services: An Option to Further Simplify
The pathway to a more hands-off management approach for your team is best taken gradually. Start with priorities first, and then mix and match different cloud services as additional options. All of the above services can be combined with Managed Services. For example, if you want DRaaS located in the service provider’s facility, be sure there is an option for Management. Then patches, server updates and backups, for example, are included.
Many organizations will start with backup or disaster recovery and then transition to infrastructure and managed services. This helps IT staff evolve to new business models gradually, taking on more responsibility with strategic business implementations while their time spent managing many of the routine tasks of the data center decreases. You have a team at the service provider who knows you and your environment and can offer advice and help when needed. This level of service is not the case with the large public cloud providers, but found in smaller, more agile providers where business is personal.
When it comes to ensuring data availability, companies that focus on data management, not just data backup, have a true advantage. This strategy encompasses being prepared for when disaster strikes, but it can also include enabling the right infrastructure while minimizing the need for heavy IT involvement by their teams. Every company has to deal with the challenges of keeping data accessible and connected, but smart organizations are simplifying the process and gaining advantage from the new cloud services that technology has enabled.