The Best Data Backup Options for Businesses
Solutions and strategies to consider
Natural disasters and cybersecurity threats cost businesses millions of dollars in lost revenue and potentially lead to lawsuits due to compromised service uptime and loss of sensitive information. For this reason, it’s important for organizations to take advantage of backup solutions for business continuity even during unforeseen disaster situations.
When choosing a backup option, businesses need to consider the size of their organization, type and scale of internal and external data, and other operational requirements. Data backup initiatives should also align with strategic business goals pertaining to Return on Investment (ROI), security and data management. The following considerations will help you choose the right data backup option, solutions and strategies based on your unique organizational requirements:
Direct-Attach Backup Storage
Direct-attach storage includes anything from external hard drives and portable storage devices. These are the most common backup options for individual computer users and small businesses that need to backup only a few terabytes of data. Scalability is limited due to:
- High capital expenditures (CapEx)
- Low practicality in managing storage devices across multiple computers
- Vulnerability to sophisticated security attacks
- Data management and disaster-recovery performance is dependent upon software solutions, internal IT resources and third-party services that may require additional cost.
This backup option is not practical for repetitive or ongoing backup processes that must run automatically and simultaneously across multiple computers. Direct-attach storage also provides minimal data protection against on-site natural disasters, and portability makes these devices prone to loss and theft. Rolling backups across multiple computers further risk spreading malware to the backup files.
Direct-attach storage is a cost-effective, easy and practical backup option only for businesses with minimal backup requirements. Organizations using this option are entirely responsible for protecting sensitive business information against cyber threats, maintaining compliance and storing disks in remote locations to minimize the data loss impact in event of natural disasters.
Virtualized Network Backup
Small and Midsize Business (SMB) organizations that manage a lot of data require scalable, secure and cost-effective systems to manage, backup and recover data from a network of computers with minimal user intervention. Virtualization allows computers to share a pool of network-connected storage devices that appear to be a single storage unit. Organizations can scale the storage capacity simply by connecting more storage devices. High-performance data transfer capabilities enable fast data recovery and reduce service disruptions in the event of data loss.
In addition to dedicated internal resources to manage virtualized networks, organizations may also require third-party services and solutions for better data management and recovery. Organizations can maximize data protection by investing in sophisticated security solutions. This backup storage model may incur high CapEx for large organizations with large and varying backup storage requirements. The physical storage resources should also be distributed across different geographical locations to minimize the impact of natural disasters.
Virtualized storage environments are an investment and require on-site support to maintain operations. Organizations are in full control and responsible for managing data, security and compliance for mission-critical business information.
Cloud and Online Backup
Cloud computing has evolved well beyond the “hype” and has entered maturity. Organizations of all sizes and industry verticals can leverage cloud-based backup and disaster-recovery solutions tailored to their unique business requirements. With cloud-backup solutions, businesses can store their data in data centers located off-site and managed by third-party vendors while only paying a periodic subscription fee. The ability to tradeoff the high CapEx of on-site storage for affordable operational expenditures provides a good solution for SMB organizations and large enterprises lacking the necessary resources in-house. Cloud storage is highly scalable and organizations only have to pay for the resources they consume, thereby optimizing ROI and cost.
Although vendors promise maximum security and service uptime for all types of cloud deployments, low-cost, public cloud solutions shared across a wide customer-base are more prone to security threats and service disruptions as compared to expensive dedicated private-cloud solutions. However, the risks are often overblown as cloud vendors are inherently well equipped and better positioned to curtail security threats than almost any SMB. Alternatively, businesses can implement a hybrid-cloud model to store mission-critical data in a private cloud and the less sensitive data in a public-cloud environment to reduce costs and maximize security.
Cloud backup offers a variety of out-of-the-box and tailored options for all types of organizations. However, businesses must consider a range of factors such as Total Cost of Ownership, Service Level Agreements, security, application awareness and datacenter distributions before moving sensitive data to third-party cloud.
Once the right backup option is selected, the next step is to devise an effective data backup strategy to maximize data protection and ROI. Organizations can select from a variety of backup types based on the available storage options and backup requirements. For example, a full backup scheme is used to backup the entire data selection and is effective for direct-attach or virtualized network storage offering high-data-transfer speed. An incremental backup scheme is used to backup only the changes performed since the last full backup, and is feasible for cloud storage networks that offer low-data-upload speed and charge based on data consumption.
Whether you use one of the options above or a hybrid approach, knowing what’s available is the first step to determining the right backup and recovery solution for your organization. As you make a decision, consider the sensitivity of your data, the time and cost of a data disaster and the differing benefits of in-house vs. third-party resources.