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Strictly boardroom


Article Type: Opinion          Published: 01-2018         Views: 609      

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Alex Crowe, Regional Sales Executive at iland, outlines the reasons why choosing cloud-based backup and DR needs to be a strategic decision taken at board level

The benefits of cloud technology are prompting more and more organisations to investigate how the scalability, security and economy it delivers can give their businesses a competitive edge. We're also seeing many customers keen to use the cloud for its well-documented advantages in backup and disaster recovery (DR). In the rush to realise the benefits, however, many organisations are failing to take a strategic approach to their business continuity plans.

I recently took part in a webinar discussion with participants from our partner CSN Group, and our backup and disaster recovery technology provider, VEEAM and I was struck by how frequently we encounter a purely tactical approach to backup and DR that doesn't necessarily meet the strategic needs of the business. While I can understand how this situation has come about, I firmly believe that it's time to open up the dialogue between the IT department and the C-suite and ensure that decisions concerning business continuity and DR are led from the boardroom.

BACKUP AND DR - TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
I often find that customers are looking initially for either backup, or disaster recovery, when actually what they really need is a blend of both. Backup is about having snapshots of data in time, which might be required for compliance reasons or when an end user has lost data that they need restored, at a point in the future. Disaster recovery is about the business being able to continue to operate, with users still having access to systems and revenue generation uninterrupted, when something has gone wrong.

David Schaap, CTO of CSN Group, made a good working distinction between backup and DR, noting that backup is driven by requests from end users for data restoration, while disaster recovery is initiated at the executive level. So, backup and Disaster Recovery each have different use cases and are needed at different times by the business but crucially, because they make use of the same technology, they should go hand-in-hand.

GOOD DECISION-MAKING HAMPERED BY BAD COMMUNICATION
When it comes to selecting the technology used for backup and DR it's usually down to the company's IT managers to make the decision, based on their knowledge of the organisation's current systems and operations. It's a bottom-up process that I believe sits at odds with the fact that the business continuity strategy that the technology is supposed to support is set by the C-suite. This can lead to the frustrating situation where the IT department is clamouring for budget to deliver backup and DR, but they don't have full visibility of the level of investment available and the amount of operational risk that executives are prepared to accept. On the other hand, business leaders suddenly get a wake-up call in the shape of a high profile climate or security-related disaster and demand an "instant" solution that guarantees zero downtime, without understanding that an effective programme is not a quick fix product that can be immediately installed.

Fundamentally, both sides are operating in the dark and this lack of alignment between the technical expertise of the IT department and the strategic priorities of the C-suite means that it's difficult for either side to make good decisions.

Ideally, all technology decisions should cascade from the business continuity strategy. It's the responsibility of the executive suite to decide what the business imperatives should be when problems occur and what level of back up is needed to ensure regulatory compliance.

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