Secure Offsite Data Storage: It Keeps You Running

Topics: Data Backup and Archiving

Floods, terrorist attacks, extreme weather, power outages: a catastrophe can strike without warning. Your company’s best defence is a proactive and dynamic business continuity plan built on secure offsite data storage.

Scan the headlines on any given week and chances are you'll find at least one example of how people and organisations can be caught off-guard by the unexpected.

Anything from a major terrorist incident or a flash flood to a simple power surge or a leaking roof has the potential to knock your business offline for days, or even weeks. For some organisations, being down for even an hour can have a devastating impact on your bottom line.

It’s tempting to give in to worry or be paralysed into inaction. But despite the sobering nature of these thoughts, planning for the unexpected need not come from a place of fear. Think of it instead as part of your company’s risk management planning - sensible steps to ensure your business is protected should anything bad happen. Offsite tape storage and vaulting, online backup systems, data restoration - these tools not only provide great insurance against disaster, but are also of lasting value to your day-to-day operations.

Take a few minutes to calculate the cost of your downtime by the hour, day or week. You’ll almost certainly find there’s a compelling business case for an investment in disaster recovery planning.

It’s All About the Data

You already know that data is an important part of your company, and that you need to protect it - not only because it contains all of your customer records and vital business information, but also because losing access to it even temporarily could put you in noncompliance with industry or EU regulations, resulting in fines or penalties.

A well-rounded data backup and recovery strategy that incorporates offsite tape storage, online backup and data restoration, amongst other features, will dramatically reduce the risk of downtime and get your operations up and running as soon as possible after any disruption. It's a matter of sticking to the basics: backing up your data to convenient storage formats, moving it offsite and making sure you can quickly restore it after an incident.

Getting Started

To create that crucially important data protection strategy, begin with these three steps:

1. Sell the Concept: Secure Approval and Funding

IT professionals sometimes find that senior executives are comfortable with the status quo and avoid sweeping changes, especially when that change implies a bigger demand on their budget. You may need to make the case for a better business-continuity plan. If so, focus on downtime costs and position the project as a cost-effective risk management strategy.

According to the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, 73% of organisations worldwide are failing in terms of disaster readiness. Don’t let your business be in the majority.

2. Strive for Diversity: Explore Hybrid Options and Layers

More IT managers are taking a hybrid approach to data protection, often employing several technologies, such as offsite tape storage plus cloud storage, to create a tiered strategy. Why? Flexibility and savings are key motivators. Cloud storage is best suited for short-term information, which typically comprises smaller sets of data that are accessed often. On the other hand, tape backup solutions are much more reliable and a less costly option for longer-term data archiving.

And don’t forget about ensuring your archives are compliant. Tape lasts for decades, making it a safe technology for years of storage. Offsite tape storage is a great compliant archiving solution that can satisfy industry and EU regulations, particularly those that call for years of records archiving.

3. Take It Away: Focus on Offsite Solutions

How do you make sure that your data isn’t destroyed, even if your headquarters are? Maintain backup copies of your data at a secure and distant offsite storage facility, far from fire, flood and other threats.

A Business Continuity Checklist

Consider these steps to develop and maintain a successful disaster-recovery strategy:

  • Prioritise your data. What are your data assets, where do you store them, and how are you backing them up? Start with an inventory of your information and an analysis of its lifecycle from creation to destruction. Tape lifecycle management is part of this exercise.
  • Get buy-in now. Stakeholders from the top down must accept, understand and participate in your business continuity and contingency plans. Spread the word often, and provide updates to keep colleagues aware and supportive of your efforts.
  • Keep it simple. There’s no time to read complicated manuals during a disaster. Make sure your instructions are brief and clear.
  • Communicate in a crisis. What will you do if normal lines of communication, including email, become unavailable? Establish dependable forms of backup communication. Some companies set up a freephone number for employees to call to receive updates.
  • Start onsite. Ask your data-recovery partner to evaluate your onsite data storage setup to see what could be salvaged in an emergency situation. Then identify what you need to fix.
  • Go offsite. Secure offsite data storage will always be the key to effective disaster preparedness.
  • Test, test, and test again. It’s comparable to a fire drill. Conduct at least quarterly reviews of your procedures and systems, with a more extensive test annually.
  • Review and revise. Keep your disaster recovery plan current and store it online for easy access for when you need it. As technologies, regulations and your business change, so should your business-continuity strategy. Your offsite data storage partner can keep you abreast of what’s new and trending.

Backup Tape Technologies: Sprint into the Future

Why tape backup, and why now? This format’s capacities and speed continue to increase while its total cost of ownership still beats disk-based and cloud solutions. With LTO-7 generation, tape's performance profile is improved even more.

Far From Home: Consider the Advantages

Offsite tape vaulting is the top choice for data backup and recovery and business continuity plans. A world-class data backup and restoration service:

  • protects and tracks your media while in transit and in storage using online data tracking software, enabling you to catalogue what you’ll need first after a disruption
  • responds quickly to audits and discovery requests.
  • maintains compliance through a strict chain of custody.
  • ultimately reduces both the risks and costs of managing offsite media.

When making the case for an offsite data storage solution, highlight the following benefits to your management team and colleagues. You’ll:

  • Gain peace of mind. When your data is secured offsite, you’ll feel more confident that the business is ready for just about anything. And you won’t worry that the company is putting your clients and customers at risk, either.
  • Take advantage of ultimate climate control.Environmental factors such as heat, humidity, cold and even dust can take their toll on backup tapes and paper over the long term. House your backup tapes in a facility that neutralises these conditions.
  • Benefit from being industry compliant. Your company may not even realise that its industry’s regulations require you to store your backup data in a safe, offsite location. Getting that information from an expert data storage vendor could prevent future headaches and fines.
  • Enjoy ease of access. Close access doesn’t necessarily mean faster access. Having your backups on hand in the office doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find what you need in a hurry. An offsite data storage supplier will organise your files and quickly deliver what you need, when you need it.
  • Benefit from lower costs. Outsourced offsite archiving is likely to be the most cost-effective option. You won’t need to build an archive yourself, nor will you be staffing it.
  • Add elbow room. Clearing your data centre of archival backup tapes may be a great way to recover some valuable square footage.

The Basic Principles Behind Safe, Reliable Offsite Storage

Once you’ve got top-level buy-in for the concept of secure offsite data storage, what’s next? Seek out a supplier that can provide:

  • best-practice security measures that safeguard backup tapes and other storage media - not only during transport but also in storage
  • web-based offsite data tracking software that makes backups readily available for recovery whenever you need them
  • auditing support that tracks storage media as it moves from your site to the storage site, to substantiate the chain of custody you’ll almost certainly need to remain compliant
  • a fleet of specially designed transport vehicles
  • 24-hour emergency response services
  • a sole-occupant storage facility with strict appointment-only visitor policies, multiple security controls, advanced fire-suppression systems, proximity to local emergency services and pre-screened employees
  • secure, environmentally controlled vaults supported by a fault-tolerant IT infrastructure
  • Electronic verification of credentials for any and all individuals involved in a media exchange.

Start Today, Not Tomorrow

It’s time to be proactive. Disaster-recovery planning helps your business stay in control. Life may be unpredictable, but with the right plan for your records in place, you’ll be on your way to dealing with whatever nature, human error or plain bad luck throws your way.

Iron Mountain Suggests: Call In the Experts

Iron Mountain has supported more than 250 major recovery efforts and 25,000 disaster-recovery tests. Our expertise can help you:

  • prepare for natural disasters and weather-related incidents
  • build your emergency-preparedness plan
  • test your disaster-recovery plan to ensure the continuity of your operations
  • implement best practices to facilitate recovery, even if you have multiple locations.

Iron Mountain’ Offsite Tape Vaulting uses the SecureSync® tape management portal, an online media management application, to help automate tape management between your locations and Iron Mountain facilities, as well as quick access to your disaster recovery plan.

Learn more about our offsite data protection services. Contact us today.