Virtually every business creates, moves, and stores data. However a good share of these companies do not protect or backup their data, and many do not have a proactive plan for restoring their data and IT systems in a manner that prevents a major disruption in business continuity. IT is heavily integrated into all aspects of your business. Without the use of your IT services, the functionality of your business would undoubtedly grind to a halt. There are important differences between data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. There are several ways that you can back up your data. These include methods as archaic as on premise tape drives or, off-premise storage options like Mozy or Carbonite.
- One major weakness of on-premise data backup is that if your building is damaged or destroyed, you will probably lose your backed up data.
- Mozy and Carbonite store your backed up data at off-premise locations so that if your building is destroyed, you will continue to have access to your stored data.
- A major weakness of Mozy and Carbonite, however, is that they are consumer grade options.
How long will it take for your company to acquire and set up new servers, load your operating system, load your application software, then reacquire all of the backed up data from off-premise storage? It can take between one and two weeks to obtain a terabyte of backed up data from Mozy or Carbonite. Imagine if you have a server that you have been faithfully backing up for 5 years. One day, that server crashes. Your plan might be to simply place the backed up image of your data on another server. Unfortunately, this often does not work, because that image will be seeking the same hardware and embedded drivers that are unique to the server that crashed.
Being five years old, that server is now obsolete, replaced by newer technology, and no longer offered. How much will it cost to have your employees sitting idle for this much time? Will your customers wait for you? Most will not. Many will seek to have their needs met in a timely fashion by your competitors; a good share of these customers will be lost permanently. 45% of all businesses that experience 10 or more days ever recover, and usually go bankrupt. Cloud computing provides automatic data, application, and system backup, stored in multiple locations. With cloud computing, following the worst of natural disasters, your business can continue critical business processes such as CRM, financial-like QuickBooks, inventory, email, and voice (telephone service)within minutes.
For example, if the worst possible disaster, like hurricane Sandy, hits your location on the east coast, the computing systems of your business could be fully operational within minutes by retrieving duplicate systems with virtual servers, application software and data which have all been backed up in real time, from data centers located on the west coast.
Cloud providers can offer preventive measures that most business owners cannot afford to implement themselves because the cost is too high. SAS-70 or SSAE-16 enterprise-grade data centers that cloud providers use for backup, are often deliberately built at locations that experience fewer natural disasters, and located where they can tap into redundant sources of bandwidth, provided by varied transport modes, and multiple carriers, so that if one bandwidth source goes down, automatic failover systems provide access to bandwidth alternatives in real-time. Cloud providers can afford to utilize the most robust security tools that include multiple layers of logical and physical security including biometrics.
This prevents unauthorized use of data and theft. Cloud providers are also able to utilize state-of-the-art Uninterrupted Power Supplies(UPS) power back up, and top of the line backup power generators. With cloud computing, you get service level agreements (SLAs) that can provide a written guarantee that key components of your IT system will be back up and running within two hours of a disaster.
With cloud computing, your business continuity can continue or resume within hours, rather than days, weeks, or months. If your building is totally destroyed, or you cannot obtain access to it, you and your employees you can use laptops or mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones, to resume critical operations, such as customer service, from any remote location where internet service is available, within minutes of the disaster. If your company has been utilizing cloud-based hosted PBX for telephone service during the normal course of operations, you and your employees can actually take your IP phones with you when evacuating for the disaster, and resume normal telephone communications from anywhere in the world where they can obtain internet access.
All telephone features such as voicemail, call forwarding, conference calling, etc, will remain fully functional. If your company uses virtual desktops, another great offering of cloud computing, you and your employees will have full functionality of the most recent Windows operating system, from any mobile device, at any evacuated location that has internet.
Thanks to “national defense level encryption”, offered with cloud computing, and the fact that none of your company’s vital data will actually be stored on the mobile device, but instead is stored on a secure server located at a secure location, your mobile device will simply serve as a portal to your secure network. Use of virtual desktops on portable devices is often more secure than the security systems you use at your business location.
By utilizing cloud computing, regardless of where you and your employees evacuate to, you will sound and appear to your customers like you are still sitting in the office you evacuated from, with the full functionality of that office, even if you are sitting in an internet cafe, enjoying a cup of coffee while you are working. With a good disaster recovery and continuity plan, your business will not need to experience significant downtime while your permanent system is being restored.