The data protection dilemma

The data protection dilemma

Sarah Doherty, product marketing manager at iland discusses the data protection dilemma around outsourcing data protection functions vs going it alone. 

Around the world, IT teams are struggling with choosing between less critical, but important tasks, versus focusing on innovative projects to help transform your business.

Both are necessary for your business and need to be actioned, but should your team do all of it? Have you thought about allowing someone else to guide you through the process while your internal team continues to focus on transforming the business? 

Disaster recovery can take a lot of time to properly implement so it may be the right time to consider a third-party provider who can help with some of the more routine and technical aspects of your disaster recovery planning. This help can free up some of your staff’s valuable time while also safeguarding your vital data.

Outsourcing your data protection functions vs managing them yourself

Information technology has raised many questions about how it really should be done. Some experts favour the Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) approach. They believe that data protection, although necessary, has very little to do with core business functionality.

Organisations commonly outsource non-business services, which has driven many to consider the idea of employing third parties for other business initiatives. This has led some companies to believe that all IT services should be outsourced, enabling the IT team to focus solely on core business functions and transformational growth.

Other groups challenge the concept and believe that the idea of outsourcing data protection is foolish. An organisation’s ability to quickly and completely recover from a disaster – such as data loss or an organisational breach – can be the determining factor as to whether the organisation will remain in business.

Some may think that outsourcing something as critical as data protection, and putting your organisation’s destiny into the hands of a third party, is a risky strategy.

The basic philosophy behind this type of thinking can best be described as, ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself.’

Clearly, both sides have some compelling arguments. On one hand, by moving your data protection solution to the cloud, your organisation becomes increasingly agile and scalable. Storing and managing data in the cloud may also lower storage and maintenance costs.

On the other hand, managing data protection in-house gives the organisation complete control. Therefore, a balance of the two approaches is needed in order to be sure that data protection is executed correctly and securely.

The answer might be somewhere in the middle

Is it better to outsource all of your organisation’s data protection functions, or is it better to manage it yourself? The best approach may be a mix of the two, using both DRaaS and Backup as a Service (BaaS).

While choosing a cloud provider for a fully managed recovery solution is also a possibility, many companies are considering moving away from ‘do-it-yourself’ disaster recovery solutions and are exploring cloud-based options for several reasons.

Firstly, purchasing the infrastructure for the recovery environment requires a significant capital expenditure (CAPEX) outlay. Therefore, making the transition from CAPEX to a subscription-based operating expenditure (OPEX) model makes for easier cost control, especially for those companies with tight budgets.

Secondly, cloud disaster recovery allows IT workloads to be replicated from virtual or physical environments.

Outsourcing disaster recovery management ensures that your key workloads are protected, and the disaster recovery process is tuned to your business priorities and compliance needs while also allowing for your IT resources to be freed up.

Finally, cloud disaster recovery is flexible and scalable; it allows an organisation to replicate business-critical information to the cloud environment either as a primary point of execution or as a backup for physical server systems.

Furthermore, the time and expense to recover an organisation’s data is minimised, resulting in reduced business disruption.

Consequently, the disadvantages of local backups is that it can be targeted by malicious software, which target backup applications and database backup files, proactively searching for them and fully encrypting the data.

Additionally, backups, especially when organisations try to recover quickly are prone to unacceptable Recovery Point Objectives (RPO).

What to look for when evaluating your cloud provider

It is also essential when it comes to your online backups to strike a balance between micromanaging the operations and completely relinquishing any sort of responsibility.

After all, it’s important to know what’s going on with your backups. Given the critical nature of the backups and recovery of your data, it is essential to do your homework before simply handing over backup operations to a cloud provider. There are a number of things that you should look for when evaluating a provider:

  • Service-level agreements that meet your needs.
  • Frequent reporting, and management visibility through an online portal.
  • All-inclusive pricing.
  • Failover assistance in a moment’s notice.
  • Do it yourself testing.
  • Flexible network layer choices.
  • Support for legacy systems.
  • Strong security and compliance standards.

These capabilities can go a long way towards allowing an organisation to check on their data recovery and backups, on an as-needed basis, while also instilling confidence that the provider is protecting the data according to your needs.

The right provider should also allow you the flexibility to spend as much or as little time on data protection, proportional to your requirements. 

Ultimately, using cloud backups and DRaaS is flexible and scalable; it allows an organisation to replicate business-critical information to the cloud environment either as a primary point of execution or as a backup for physical server systems.