Why backup and data protection are cool again

Despite being a crucial aspect of IT operations, backup had become something of a utility function. It may have helped save the day when Andy from Accounts accidentally deleted his unofficially official profit and loss spreadsheet, but it’s never really been cool.

Until now.

Ransomware has been a game-changer

The 2017 WannaCry outbreak caused significant damage. Estimates suggest the four-day spree infected 300,000 computers in 150 countries costing billions of dollars. Universities, manufacturers, telecoms, government bodies and healthcare providers all lost access to at least some of their data.

Just months later, the NotPetya malware event wreaked further havoc. Although it mimicked ransomware, the mechanism for decrypting files did not exist, leading researchers to claim that it was actually designed to inflict maximum damage, rather than an actual extortion attempt. The majority of infections took place in Ukraine, but malware does not respect national borders, so damage was also reported by major organisations in the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark.

The emergence of super-spreading ransomware was a game-changer. Third-copy backups – usually an immutable version stored offsite – had been viewed as a necessary evil. There was a sneaking suspicion that these copies would never be used. But when ransomware infections struck and they could no longer access mission-critical data, organisations faced a serious dilemma – pay the scammers, or trigger disaster recovery protocols and try to recover the systems from backup.

For many, accurate, timely off-site backups saved the day. Unaffected by ransomware, these organisations were able to recover systems quickly with minimal data loss – particularly important when paying the ransom wouldn’t have worked anyway.

Providing options for the future

Backup is no longer a box-ticking exercise – it’s potential goes far beyond simply protecting your data against loss. The same technologies that allow you to easily create and move datasets can be applied to other scenarios too.

Consider SaaS platforms that are engineered in such a way to encourage vendor lock-in. Obviously, this presents a threat to your ongoing strategy that requires maximum flexibility so that you can pivot quickly in line with changing conditions.

With the right backup and recovery tools in place, migrating between cloud platforms is dramatically simplified. You can retake control of your whole estate – and to complete any move quickly and efficiently, while minimising impact on operations at the same time.

Implementing immutable backup storage options throughout the backup infrastructure is a must for all organisations. Immutability was traditionally achieved using tapes. However, there are numerous solutions available on the market today to achieve this without the overhead of managing tapes.

Ransomware is not the only threat

It’s worth mentioning that although the threat from ransomware is significant and attacks continue to increase in velocity, volume and sophistication, it’s certainly not the only reason you need backup. As the volume of data continues to increase, there are more opportunities for things to go wrong elsewhere. Technical malfunctions can happen, laptops or other devices can be lost, and people can make mistakes. According to Gartner, through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures and resulting data loss will be the customer’s fault.

A critical aspect of your infrastructure

Backup is now at the front and centre of your operations and no longer an unnecessary expense. By providing a layer of protection against data loss or corruption, it can defend against increases in labour costs and non-compliance issues, as well as decreases in productivity and revenue, it can also protect your reputation. And while legacy backup solutions are just that; backup, recovery and nothing else,  modern ones offer organisations more.

Using features such as Instant VM recovery to help you restore protected workloads in minutes, as well as providing long-term disaster recovery options, these solutions empower you to drive extra value from your data,

Similarly, technologies like continuous data protection (CDP) can be used to create an always-accurate parallel environment. In the event of a serious local disaster – or a ransomware outbreak – you can fail-over instantly, reducing disruption from hours and days to minutes and seconds. This all means you can maximise your investment in both your data and your solutions.

Ultimately, as it continues to keep the organisation running, backup will always be cool.

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