Backup processes need more attention

Now that IT is the lifeblood of every organisation, nobody can risk all their data to save a bit of money every month, says Computer Storage Services.

Read time 3min 20sec

South African businesses are not paying enough attention to data management and backup, and the results can be catastrophic, says James Grcic, MD of Computer Storage Services.

Grcic says the volumes of data being managed by local businesses is growing by as much as 200% to 300% per year. However, the storage and backup of this data is being managed haphazardly, or with rudimentary backup devices. "Too many discover only after an incident that their data was not being backed up effectively. This can have a disastrous impact on their business," he says.

Grcic says the recent fire at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport is a case in point. "Who would expect an airport to burn down?" he says. "But it did, and the impact is still being felt by airlines, foreign exchange bureaus, immigration, baggage handling, courier companies and numerous duty free shops, which kept servers and data housed at the airport, and did not back it up adequately." He speculates that the data lost could translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in transactions, and may be double that in profits lost going forward.

Grcic says his company, which specialises in data recovery, is seeing a dramatic increase in business on the back of failed backup and redundancy plans. "We often find that the data was never backed up, or the backed up data did not reside where the company thought it did. We often discover that when companies updated their enterprise applications or servers, or expanded the IT infrastructure, they did not update their backup systems accordingly, with the result that the backup systems no longer read the data or forgot to include new systems and servers due to legacy backup systems or manual procedures to check. Too often, companies discover these flaws in their disaster recovery plans too late. Mistakes like this can bring companies to their knees."

Grcic says another flaw in many companies' disaster recovery plans is the simple fact that IT staff tend to change jobs every two to three years. "When staff leave, they typically hand over to a new employee - in some cases in under 30 days. This is not enough time to hand over an entire IT infrastructure. Only when something goes wrong does the company realise that nobody knows where the data resides, and where it is being backed up to."

Even adopting cloud and virtualisation technologies can result in a false sense of security, says Grcic. While South African businesses are rapidly adopting cloud-based and virtualised storage, not all are checking that their service providers have effective backup plans. "We have seen cases where companies lost important data because their service providers were burgled, or data was accidentally corrupted," he says. "It is important to work with a reputable service provider and check that they have solid disaster recovery and backup plans in place." Grcic says to test a service provider's ability to deliver, a company might request a snapshot of their data from a particular date, to be supplied within a short time frame.

"Now that IT is the lifeblood of every organisation, nobody can risk all their data to save a bit of money every month," says Grcic. "Businesses need to mitigate these simple, obvious risks to protect their data."

Grcic will address the upcoming ITWeb Business Continuity Summit on the 'redundancy illusion', cloud and continuity, and will present a seven-step strategy to safeguard data. For more information about this event, click here.

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