The Cloud plays a substantial role in data protection and security for many local and state government agencies. It can make the difference between recovering in minutes versus hours when time is of critical importance. Cloud backup sends information to an off-premise location and enables swift recovery after an incident. According to Deloitte, “88% of the decision-makers surveyed believe that the cloud is the cornerstone of [their] digital strategy.”
An effective online backup plan ensures agency continuity while optimizing cloud resource usage and IT labor. Explore these seven best practices for cloud-based backup and recovery and learn how to incorporate them into your approach.
1. Adjust Backup Frequency
The traditional nightly backup no longer fits today’s environment. A network breach can occur anytime, and employees enter important data throughout the day. Frequent backups, even every 15 minutes, are essential. Managed backup and recovery vendors, software, and BLI solutions to support modern strategies. Agencies often deploy one or more types of rapid backups.
Here’s how these three types of rapid backups compare:
Block-level incremental: BLI only copies the altered block to storage, not the entire file. It can back up files even if the program is in use and doesn’t affect a machine’s performance as much as conventional options.
In-place recovery: Instead of transferring data across a network, in-place recovery (also called instant recovery) moves files to a backup storage device. It’s suitable for virtualized environments and typically only saves the changed blocks.
Streaming recovery: This method automatically sends data to a production storage system in real-time. While the information is instantly available, performance may slow down slightly if users try accessing data that hasn’t been fully restored.
2. Approach Cloud Storage Strategically
Your organization’s size, cloud vendor, and capacity demands impact your costs and capabilities. Evaluating these aspects helps your company make strategic choices, allowing you to save money and recover data quickly. Many small government agencies benefit from storing all data in the cloud, whereas larger organizations and municipalities may use on-premise storage systems for certain applications.
Aside from managed cloud backup, providers offer disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). This solution allows organizations to test DR plans and host virtual images of recovered programs in the cloud. Some vendors can automate parts of the disaster recovery process to alleviate your IT burden. However, providers differ in backup restore time and VM image usability. It’s critical to speak with vendors and review how backups are stored, what an extraction looks like, and an exact timeframe for when an application would be usable.
3. Remember to Backup SaaS Apps and Physical Devices
Many organizations prioritize on-premise hardware and software backups. Yet, your employees may store information on cell phones or laptops, like contacts, notes, or files. If the devices are lost or stolen, the data also disappears.
Moreover, the auto-save feature and built-in security tools may make users believe cloud-based applications don’t require additional configuration. However, this assumption is faulty.
Therefore, government agencies and organizations must incorporate endpoint and SaaS security measures and data protection into their strategy. Fortunately, most cloud-enabled backup and recovery programs support iOS and Android devices, desktops, and laptops. Your IT team or managed IT services can automate hardware backups to eliminate reliance on end users.
Likewise, your current data protection application may also safeguard your SaaS programs. For the best results, these should sync with your existing systems and centralize your backup and recovery process on a single platform. But, in some cases, you may prefer a SaaS-specific service.
4. Consider Data Regulations
The bottom line is that U.S. data regulations allow people to delete their information. You can’t typically expunge individual files within a backup, and there’s a risk of accidentally restoring data upon recovery. Therefore, companies should not use stand-alone backups for data retention. Instead, consider an archive program.
With an archive product, you can separate individual files and data types. It lets you delete data on-demand. You still archive information to the cloud but send the files back to the archive during restoration. This process keeps customer data separate and your organization compliant with privacy rules.
5. Update Your 3-2-1 Backup Technique
Although you should follow the reliable 3-2-1 backup rule, adjusting your standards slightly for modern cloud storage is okay. Previously, experts recommended that companies retain three copies, including two local data sets stored on different hardware and one off-premise backup. Organizations usually complete an on-site backup, copy it to a separate storage device, then duplicate it for off-premise storage.
Since most agencies leverage some type of cloud-based backup system, professionals say storage snapshots or replicating data twice for two off-site locations are sufficient. However, if two of three media types are cloud storage, this fails the 3-2-1 backup rule. The way to overcome this challenge is to create immutable backups.
An immutable backup can’t be altered during a certain timeframe, determined by your retention policy. Enabling read-only backups adds an extra layer of defense by not allowing editing or modifying, meaning a malicious attack won’t erase your data.
6. Document and Automate Recovery Processes
Documentation is vital to speedy disaster recovery. While many agencies develop disaster recovery runbooks, they don’t always fully flesh out and update IT processes for failed storage systems or full disaster recoveries. In these cases, interdependencies require a specific order of server availability, and the restoration timing makes the difference between failure and success.
Recording the connections between applications can ensure the proper execution of your DR plan. But automation allows your IT team to run the process with a click, drastically reducing labor and time. Look for backup and recovery vendors offering runbook automation capabilities. These tools let you perform testing and recovery tasks in a set order with fewer manual interactions.
7. Optimize Your Cloud-Based Backup and Recovery Plan
The cloud is an ideal solution for storing your data backups. Automating the process for on- and off-premise devices and SaaS applications is easy. Recovering after a system failure or cyber incident is seamless, as your files remain secure regardless of what happens to your network. Yet nothing is failproof, and cloud storage and management costs can add up.
An effective cloud strategy or managed cloud strategy built on best practices allows you to achieve optimal results. Partnering with the right backup and recovery vendor ensures you have purpose-built services and a foundation to begin your agency’s cloud journey.
Don’t Leave your Agency’s Critical Data and Operations to Chance
With seven best practices laid out, you have a roadmap to optimize your agency’s approach to cloud backup and recovery. But implementing these practices requires expertise and tools tailored to your unique needs. If ensuring agency continuity, optimizing cloud resources, and minimizing IT labor are on your priority list, you’re not alone.
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