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What is Disaster Recovery as a Service?

What is Disaster Recovery as a Service?

A DRaaS Solution For Drastic Measures

A look at word origins surrounding business continuity can help answer the question, “What is disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)?” The word “disaster” contains the ancient weight of misfortunate heavens. As history goes, disaster is simply a bad star, and recovery is the return from unfortunate fate. In today’s technological culture, “recovery” (to the core of IT) means a return to digital health following a software or hardware mishap. On this note, let’s take a closer look at the fate of your business to help you clarify both the “what” and the “if” of your disaster recovery as a service strategy.

 

DRaaS Disaster Recovery as a Service

Is Your Data on a Close Cloud or on a Faraway Star?

It would take you more than 1000 human lifetimes to reach the closest star in our galaxy. If your current disaster recovery plan is at that same pace, then you might need to bet your luck on a different disaster recovery plan. This is where DRaaS services benefit companies. With real-time backups and fast restore solutions, the hybrid cloud architecture of DRaaS keeps your business operating on proven luck, rather than on hopeful wishes.

 

First of all, your lucky stars in IT (especially when it comes to disaster recovery) are always at a distance. Your business creates volumes of data, especially if you’re operating in an ERP solution. You need a backup that isn’t directly on-site in case a natural disaster takes out your IT infrastructure. By creating a virtual office environment, for example, you can securely work from home if your office has a fire.

 

If you’re asking “what’s DRaaS?” then it might be a good time to revise your disaster recovery policies. Data recovery services contain, in essence, a distance of time. Therefore, you need to consider how long can you survive before a data restoration returns your business to normal activities. How much downtime is acceptable? Hours? Days? A week or longer? Hopefully, you’re not merely wishing on stars for things like business continuity and business resiliency. 

 

Backup and Data at a Distance

Distance is a protective step for backup and disaster recovery planning. However you choose to copy your data locally, you need to protect your on-premise data with a remote recovery solution. As a feature of top DRaaS solutions, co-located data centers ensure that nothing you want to keep is lost in the shuffle of a disaster recovery. DRaaS allows you to exclusively focus on your business, while data recovery specialists carry the weight of replication stability and everything else, like clean rooms and compliance regulations.

Fundamentally, if you’re a business owner, you need two things when developing your disaster recovery plan:
  1. A protected (often remote) environment that holds your backups
  2. A plan for data recovery in the event that you need to tap into your backups

 

What’s DRaaS According to Fate?

A DRaaS solution is simply a private cloud computing environment on a partner’s server. Your data backups sync to a secure cloud, and an auxiliary server comes to the rescue when disaster strikes. For example, if your system goes down, and you’re using our DRaaS solution, your business seamlessly moves to a cloud-based server reserved for your data during the duration of a disaster data loss. What exactly happens following a disaster? Is your data recovery software ready?
  • First, you experience a hardware or a software failure. This might be ransomware, or this might be a hurricane.
  • Next, you realize your system is in the middle of a disaster, but you don’t worry because you’ve chosen DRaaS as part of your business continuity plan.
  • Then, business goes on as normal because your solution keeps your business running in a third-party computing environment. Your virtual server prevents downtime and data loss by moving you to a comprehensive virtual office. When your physical servers are compromised, your hybrid cloud infrastructure serves to keep your company running smoothly, ensuring productive employees and happy customers in your near future. This often means working remotely because what’s DRaaS good for on-premise if your facility is in shutdown mode?
  • Finally, you’re restored to business as usual, according to your recovery and restoration plan. The disaster is over. Your business continues, and your customers don’t even know you were compromised. 

 

How to Choose Between Basic Recovery Solutions and DRaaS

DRaaS is a robust solution, allowing complex manufacturing facilities to operate without the threat of server failure. But how do you decide if you need the best available disaster recovery services? First, consider your luck. Then, consider your backups. What is the likelihood that your business will experience a disaster?
  • Do you live in an area with hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes?
  • Are you on a rural grid with frequent utility outages?
  • Are you light on cybersecurity, and therefore at risk of a cyberattack?
  • Did you ever spill a coffee on your keyboard and delete important data in the cleanup?
  • Do you have old hardware that might fail from normal wear and tear?

 

More than half of data loss is caused by human mistakes. From cyber attacks to deleted files, human error is as steady as the constellations. Unfortunately, 58% of small and midsize businesses are not prepared for any level of data loss. On the same note, 29% of hard drive failures are due to accidents, and this data loss in such an event is entirely preventable.

 

At first and at last, consider your losses. If you were to experience a “bad star” data disaster, what are your expectations for your data restore?

  • Can your business survive a few days of downtime?
  • Can your employees and your customers handle a few days or weeks of data erasure?
  • Do you need failover and failback to maximize uptime and secure data by the minute or the hour?

 

 

We “R” in the Cloud

Replication, Retention, Recovery, Restoration, RPO, and RTO

 

Data replication and retention couple for data protection. You create copies of your data so that you can recover any losses in your future. Data replication can create real-time copies in the cloud. Backup services for data replication and retention can also migrate data into cloud storage for backup or even for analytics. Data from physical servers can be replicated, or copied, to support easy availability during a disaster recovery. Because data retention is often a requirement for compliance, companies benefit from data replication services, even if they don’t require a hot site during a disaster.

 

Data recovery and restoration couple for data continuity. To create a disaster recovery plan, you need to consider RPO and RTO. Understanding these helps you define your best options when recovering data.

 

 

What’s DRaaS RPO?

Recovery point objectives are based on your data replication needs in terms of frequency of application backup. At the end of the day, how much data loss can your business withstand?

 

What’s DRaaS RTO?

How much time can your lose? Your recovery time objective refers to your accepted timeline to data recovery and application restoration. Do you want your business to live on the cloud until on-premise resources are restored? Or can you handle a day or two of downtime?

 

 

What is Disaster Recover as a Service for the Future? 

Do you want seamless cloud environments to allow for full business continuity during a disaster? Future-focused, a virtual server provides 100% RTO by moving your work into a failover cloud computing environment, regardless of your disaster scenario. The fate of your business with private cloud hosting keeps you thanking your lucky stars that your disaster recovery plan continuously protects your digital well-being.

 

 

 

EstesGroup can help define and design your recovery process based on your operating systems and your private and public cloud usage. We can even perform data and backup testing so that you can rest easy knowing that your data is safe, secure, and always protected. We’ll count your data stars for you, so you can focus on the work you love.

 

Data Center Location is Critical to Your Company’s Success and Survival

Data Center Location is Critical to Your Company’s Success and Survival

Looking California When You’re Feeling Minnesota: Where is the Best Data Center Location?

 

For manufacturing companies, the advent of “cloud computing” has raised a lot of questions.  Luckily, you don’t have to wander lonely as a cloud to find answers to your questions surrounding cloud solutions for your business.  Not as complicated as a cumulonimbus or as feathery as a cirrus, a cloud in the field of technology is as simple, or as complicated, as someone else’s computer.  But of the many questions a manufacturer may have, one frequently surfaces in relation to the location of the data: “So where is my data located, anyway?”

 

This isn’t a small squall of a question: if you are looking for an on-premise installation or a server stack in the cloud, your primary and secondary data centers’ location is a decision of atmospheric proportions—one with direct business impact.  

 

Whether choosing hosted or cloud solutions, your data center location is critical.  You must be wary of where exactly your data center servers are located, for all clouds are not created equal.  Downtime is the great fear when it comes to all things computing, and is often the result of natural disasters—and do you remember how long it took to get the power grid functioning in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria?  Clearly, minimizing the risks of mother nature is a central concern.  Let’s take a down-to-earth look at some of the natural dangers facing your company’s data.

 

Earthquakes

 

When I worked in Arkansas a number of years ago, in an area that was on the edge of the New Madrid seismic zone, I noticed the strange cross-bracing in one of the factories, and I asked a local about it.  He explained the seismic risks in the area, and recounted the family lore about the quake of 1812.  Then he looked me square in the eye and said, “Whatever you do, don’t blame Arkansas—it wasn’t our fault.” 

 

It can be a surprise to discover that one the largest earthquakes in North America’s recorded history was not along the California coast but was actually along the New Madrid seismic zone in Missouri—of all places!  This was the quake that briefly caused the Mississippi River to run upstream back in 1812, the year almost exclusively famous for the conflict between America and England.  But while the Americans were locked in battle with the British on the East Coast, they were unwittingly losing the war with nature in the Midwest.   

 

This might serve as a warning if you locate your data center in a seismic zone—if your server gets death-rattled into oblivion, it’ll be your own fault.

 

 

Tornadoes

 

Nothing can lay your blades out like a deck of 52 quite like a tornado.  Tornadoes pry open buildings like nature’s proverbial can opener, allowing copious rain and debris to decorate your server room like a third grade art project, and you don’t want to see your data garnished with nature’s glitter.  Tornadoes pose a risk not only to your data center itself, but they also tend to knock out your primary—and even your secondary power supplies.  Backup generators are often located adjacent to a building, making them a potential target for mother nature’s twisted wrath.  So while a twister might leave a building unscathed, it might take out your external generator, rendering backup power systems useless.  Of course, that’s a moot point if the contents of your data center are laid out across the lawn like your laundry, for all to see.  Luckily, a proper data center location can help you avoid an unfortunate game of 52-pickup.

 

 

Floods

 

I reached out to one of my customers after a series of tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, and he gave the all-clear: “The twisters missed us, but the water levels are so high, some folks can’t get into work.”  That is to say, a natural disaster can be more sneaky than a weather channel headline.  While things like tornadoes get a lot of attention, water levels can do a lot more damage over time.  As such, one might think twice about locating a data center on a floodplain.  While all my gamer buddies are hyped over water-cooled CPUs, I don’t quite think this is what they’re referring to. 

 

 

Hurricanes

 

Hurricanes amount to the worst of wind and water, with the ability to pummel your data center into paste from above, or dissolve it into a silicon solution from below.  And while the zone immediately affected by hurricanes is rather small, the extended zone where hurricane-related storms transform into inland berserkers is much larger.  Locating your stacks in a place that is far-removed from the hurricane fallout zone will serve you well in reducing wind and water risks. 

 

 

Heat

 

Another sneaky disaster when it comes to all things electronic is heat.  Not too long ago, I was in Charlotte, NC with a coworker.  One morning after breakfast, we were about to head to the customer site when my coworker ran back into the hotel to retrieve his coffee mug, leaving me in the parking lot.  I stood out in the morning heat for maybe a minute or two.  Now, being a Canadian, I generally overheat reading the newspaper, and the morning temp in Charlotte was obliterating.  By the time we got to carpooling, I was already a puddle.  And this was still in the early morning!  Servers are like Canadian consultants—they work better in temperate climates.  When choosing a shack to hang your racks, look to locate it in a place where your cooling systems won’t be fighting a losing battle with the heat index.  Servers generate enough heat on their own—they don’t need any help! 

 

The Cloud

 

While the notion of “The Cloud” brings with it visions of the ethereal, it is in reality quite terrestrial in nature.  Hosting a customer’s ERP system is a huge responsibility, and not one to be taken lightly.  The cloud itself can be just as risky as a hurricane.  As such, the EstesGroup is all about maximizing service while minimizing risk.  In support of our Epicor Hosting initiative, we keep our data center located in Michigan, which has a favorable climate for keeping servers cool as a cucumber, while avoiding the many environmental pitfalls noted above.  Moreover, by having our data center location in the Midwest, we provide centrality that allows us to rapidly service a broad region.  With optimal location and cloud infrastructure, the team at EstesGroup can serve your business needs by providing ideal solutions for your data, regardless of the weather. 

 

If you find yourself looking to the sky for answers to your worldly business questions, please give our team a call.

Ransomware, a Good Way to Stop Your Business. Or Maybe Not?

Ransomware, a Good Way to Stop Your Business. Or Maybe Not?

I just need to get this off my chest – so bear with me. 

First off, I’ve been doing sysadmin work for scores of years now, and the idea of backups, business continuity, and “bad guys” isn’t new.  However, this week it was brought to a new and interesting head for one small business. 

Rewind the clock two years and we were in the conversation with this business about where they host their “golden nuggets” of their business, what servers did what, where were the users, how did the backups fare, state of malware, web filtering protection, etc.  You know, all the “normal” stuff any qualified IT provider would ask a prospective customer. “We’re fine” was the answer – they had an in-house IT guru watching all that stuff.  However, they did make a (wise) decision to host their ERP solution with us.  

Last week, our monitoring went suspiciously quiet, it looked like the company went on vacation, or they had fallen asleep at the keyboard. I reached out to the company, and was informed that they had been the victim of the latest ransomware attack, and all their documents were encrypted and unusable. Thankfully, since they were hosting their ERP system with us, that was safe from the attack. All their ERP data was secure but everything else they controlled was locked. Backups proved unreliable or inaccessible, so the ransom was paid. The company got lucky and the recovery key worked and they got their documents back.  What they didn’t get back was Active Directory.  Ouch!  Nobody could login, even though their documents were back on a server, nobody could access them. 

A week later, a new domain, and new profiles on everyone’s desktop, new shares, new permissions, and they were back up and running. After everything, the company is back to doing business, but it could have been a much worse situation. A critical note: the ERP system was never at risk and no ERP data was lost since that was safely stored elsewhere. 

Moral of the story: 

  • Test your backups. Not just documents, but the whole server.  How long does it take to get it back? It should not be more than a few hours.
  • Just because you can restore files doesn’t mean you can go out, buy a new server and restore your existing workload onto a new server. 
  • If you can’t live without it, and you don’t have the in-house expertise to manage it – outsource it! Let the pros handle the critical IT while you do what you do best: making essential product and making your business grow. 

 

Contact Us to learn whether Hosting is right for your company.  

Learn more about EstesGroup’s EstesCloud Hosted ERP here… 

Disaster Recovery: Is your backup really ready?

Disaster Recovery: Is your backup really ready?

How much fear is behind the tens of thousands of daily searches for backup disaster recovery?

How do you know your backup recovery will work? What will you be able to restore, really? Globally, the search is on for the best backup and disaster recovery solutions for businesses. As it becomes easier to create and share data, the need for backup services increases. Fortunately, new cloud computing technologies allow for endless data sharing and syncing, and these interactions can be protected by replication services.

Backup Recovery Cloud Computing Devices

 

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5 Benefits to Testing Your Backups

5 Benefits to Testing Your Backups

Backup Testing is Like a Disaster Dress Rehearsal

Is backup testing part of your business continuity plan? Let’s consider the effect of disaster drills throughout society. Why do schools still have fire drills? Why do day cares still practice tornado preparedness? Because natural disasters happen, we do well to stand prepared for the unfortunate extraordinary. In fact, disaster recovery is not a matter of “if,” but rather of “when” in the cybersphere. And, in the best case scenario, all the planning was for nothing. Because, of course, we would rather be prepared and not need data restoration than be caught unaware. Backup testing is a critical part of any disaster plan.

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