Don’t allow an ‘always on’ mentality to dictate your backup strategy

Consumers’ expectations for always-on technology are continually increasing, with businesses looking to see where they need to make changes to support this. Users expect their applications to be available and functioning at optimal performance, considering it almost a basic human right, with even the most minor disruptions a cause for uproar.

A recent survey by digital operations management provider PagerDuty found that resolving consumer-impacting incidents takes IT teams approximately double the amount of time consumers are willing to wait for a service that isn’t performing. This level of expectance has translated into the workplace, where users wish to have 100% access to more applications across multiple devices.

In addition to this, making up an increasing proportion of the workplace are digital native millennials, expecting instant access to information having grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media as the norm. A PwC study recently showed that 59% of millennials surveyed highlight a prospective employer’s technology provision as crucially important when choosing a job.

This demonstrates just how important it is for all users to have access to important applications at any time. This demand requires a complex virtualised infrastructure, while aggressive performance SLAs are on the rise and corporate management teams continue to squeeze software licensing costs, creating a challenging environment for even the most efficient IT department.

Why backing up everything the same way doesn’t always work

With such high expectations for application availability, organisations can be tempted to reflect this approach in their backup and recovery strategies to ensure that users can access all applications regardless. Even with the best IT operations in practice, system failures can be caused by any number of things from natural disasters to human error and power outages. In the event of catastrophe, users may want their corporate coffee voucher app back up and running in time for Monday morning, however, protecting all data and application code in the same way is not always the most economic approach, regardless of storage technique.

In a world where IT directors and businesses are faced with an increasingly complex application set, and a growing number of on-premise, cloud and hybrid storage options, not to mention pressures to save money and innovate, IT teams should refrain from the temptation to bet the house on one backup methodology. When assessing back-up and recovery options, businesses should look to a hybrid storage model to meet their individual needs. The most common enterprise use for cloud storage today is in fact off-site backup and archiving and with a hybrid cloud storage model companies can use a combination of on-premise storage and storage in the public cloud to deliver even better value. For example, they may choose to migrate non-mission critical applications to the public cloud and keep critical ones on premise for increased security.

A structured approach to restoration

Once a storage strategy has been implemented, it’s important that organisations don’t deploy just one backup methodology. Instead, they should utilise tools that can forecast acceptable risk profiles for the re-deployment of applications, including analysis of licensing costs, budgeting capital expenditures and assessment of application availability versus business risk.

Whilst some applications are mission critical to the running of a business, for example trading tools in the financial industry, some applications, such as timesheets for recording employee activity, can endure downtime with fewer ramifications. An estimated 20 per cent of organisations’ applications are non-mission critical, so maximising resource utilization and improving virtual application performance across hybrid environments will be key to ensuring business continuity in the event of catastrophic breach.

With the right tools in place, and a multi-option approach that clearly forecasts backup and recovery implications, organisations can deploy the most cost-effective mix of applications and data at every phase, and ensure backup and recovery judgement isn’t clouded by the demands of its users. The key is understanding that every business is on its own journey of digital transformation and will be at different stages within a growing virtualized environment that needs a tailored back-up and recovery plan that isn’t simply backing up every application.