A while ago we ran a three part series on data backup procedures, different backup methodologies, and disaster recover and business continuity concepts.
Read “Is Your Business Prepared for a Disaster?”:
- Is Your Business Prepared for a Disaster? Part 1
- Is Your Business Prepared for a Disaster? Part 2
- Is Your Business Prepared for a Disaster? Part 3
What is new in Disaster Recovery?
In the past two years a lot has changed in regards to backup methodologies and disaster recover / business continuity solutions (DR/BC). There are even new regulations that require a DR/BC solution to ensure data accessibility, such as the recent HIPAA rulings that went into effect September 23, 2013.
For this revisit, we will focus on two backup methods, cloud and DR/BC.
Cloud based backup is similar to tape backups, except there is no media to store your backup on. All backups are stored in data centers located in the cloud. The administrator creates backup sets, whether it is the entire device or just a subset of its data, then the software backs-up the data set, typically encrypts/compresses it, and then sends it off to a secure data center through the internet.
Disaster Recover / Business Continuity Based
A DR/BC based backups your entire device. What this means is that the backup software takes a snapshot of the server and packs it into a file format dubbed an image. The server image is typically stored on a local device as well as replicated and sent to a data center. The image can then be mounted and ‘spun up’ to act as your server if your physical server ever fails. This allows you to continue to operate in the event of a disaster.
There are a multitude of threats to the integrity, accessibility and security of the Organization’s health information: power issues or outages; fire, flood, other natural or man made disasters; viruses, hackers and improper disclosures/acts by employees or others. All of these introduce risk into the management of key clinical, financial and operational data.
The following conditions can destroy or disrupt the Organization’s information systems:
- Power interruption or outage
- Weather and other natural phenomena, such as earthquakes
- Sabotage and vandalism (internal or external)
The first thing to do even if a backup solution is not utilized is to create an emergency operations plan, a downtime operations plan, and a disaster recovery plan. In each plan, it should state what your Organization will do to continue working when each scenario occurs. An example emergency operations plan is as follows:
- Call 911 and sound appropriate the alarms if necessary
- Evacuate if necessary
- If appropriate engage manual fire extinguishers or fire suppression systems
- Take manufacturer recommended precautions if automated systems engage
- If safe, close all doors as you leave
- Notify other departments and staff of situation and emergency protocols
- Initiate orderly shut-down of computers and networks, if possible
- If a fire or flood is imminent or just starting, disconnect power if possible
- If a fire or flood occurs, try to prevent further damage from water by covering areas with plastic and ensure adequate ventilation and drainage
- Move records/equipment/storage media away from area being flooded; Organize and label information logically and clearly for continued access
- Invoke business continuity procedures and downtime processes as appropriate
Disaster Recover / Business Continuity Solutions
With the cost of DR/BC solutions decreasing dramatically, DR/BC image based backups are becoming the go to choice for backing up your corporate infrastructure. Utilizing a DR/BC backup solution can provide your Organization almost uninterrupted access to corporate services, even when corporate servers are physically unavailable. Your Organization can ‘spin up’ the backed up server or servers and access them locally or from the cloud and key Workforce members can continue to work. This is especially important in industries where data accessibility in mandated such as in the health care field.
With proper backup procedures, your Organization can establish and implement the needed policies and procedures for preventing and responding to an emergency or other occurrence (for example, fire, vandalism, system failure, and natural disaster) that could cause damage to systems that contain mission critical information. In the event of a prolonged outage the DR/BC backup solution can be used to access data and have your Organization be productive as normal business operations are restored. Ultimately do not take your backup needs lightly, the cost of losing your Intellectual Property and mission critical data is huge compared to the relatively small costs of utilizing a DR/BC or cloud based backup solution.