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Why Your IT Backup Solutions Should Run Like the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles

February 7, 2018

What happens when your star quarterback goes down hard and the team physician says he’ll be out for the rest of the season?

Your team can’t just pack up and call it quits – you’ve got to call in the backup.

Good thing for the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles, they had an exemplary backup plan in place, and were able to keep winning through this adversity.

Backup Plans for Critical Digital Assets

The same holds true for in the manufacturing, legal and insurance industries, and for any type of company that relies on technology to keep their businesses winning.

If your star quarterback – the essential digital assets that keep your operation running – goes down, the backup has to be ready at a moment’s notice and will be expected to perform seamlessly with the rest of the system.

Without a backup plan in place and a seamless transition, both the football team and the business will suffer significant losses.

In the IT world, a 3-2-1 Data Protection Plan should be implemented to mitigate these risks.  Here’s how it works:

Two onsite backups will help get the system up and running quickly – although having two copies in nearby locations can result in both backups being lost in cases of water damage, fire, theft, and other physical interruptions.

So while creating onsite backups is important, having an offsite backup is essential to having a complete backup strategy.

Establishing a 3-2-1 data protection plan should be at the heart of any strategic processes if a business relies on IT systems to operate efficiently.

Drawing the X’s and O’s – Developing a Complete Backup IT Solution

We’ve seen organizations benefit from having a comprehensive strategy that analyzes how business results are tied to individual applications – this will dictate how the data is backed-up, the priority of restoring applications, and what software, hardware, and services best suit the data recovery plan.

The Identify → Discuss → Solve framework is designed to help operations managers effectively address the key components of getting their systems running again.

  1. Identify
    • Go to the whiteboard and identify your Return To Operations Requirements by making a list of all applications that will need to be restored in order to get the operation fully functional, like
      • Email
      • ERP Systems
      • Microsoft Office Documents
      • VOIP
  2. Discuss
    • Go through each of these applications and determine what business results are tied to each
    • Address how the scope and length of downtime will affect each business result
    • Identify the maximum time that each application can be allowed to be offline before the corresponding business results are affected
    • Each application should have a sentence like the following to summarize the Discussion aspect of your backup strategy strategy.
      • “[Application] must be back online within [##] hours before the [list of business results] will be affected.
  3. Solve
    • Based on the Return to Operation requirements set in phases 1 and 2, your team will determine which solution(s) will best fit your organization
      1. Backup – a snapshot of your data from a given time in the past
        • Best for: restoring from virtual server crashes, restoring individual files, crashes from windows updates
      2. Replication – a server online is ready-to-go with updates done hourly, either on-site or off-site
        • Best for: high-risk application with low RTO (8 hour or less RTO)
      3. Hybrid – a combination of the two
        • Best for: variable RTO based on the backup needs (entire building going down vs. server stack going down)

The Playbook – Finalizing and Documenting Your Backup Strategy

Once we go through the Identify → Discuss → Solve process to determine the optimal backup solution, now it’s time to finalize, document and implement your backup strategy.

It’s hard to understate the importance of having a documented playbook that identifies all the possible interruptions of business and the necessary steps to return to operations.   

This playbook will detail important items like contact information, action steps (e.g. pulling plugs, turning on backup equipment, etc.)

Your IT System is Only as Strong as Your Backup Plan

Long before the Philadelphia Eagles became Superbowl LII Champions, the need for a comprehensive backup plan has been essential for NFL teams and IT-reliant businesses alike.

It’s true: your system really is only as strong as your backup – so be sure you are prepared when the next unexpected event happens.

You’ll never know when you need your backup – make sure it’s just as good as your starter.

Get in touch and let’s put together a backup strategy for your team.

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