The Importance of Data Replication (and How it Differs from Data Backup)

Data Replication and Geo-Redundancy

 

With 156,700 reported cyber incidents, 2017 is widely considered to have been the worst year for cyberattacks and data breaches; 2018 didn’t fare much better (results are still being compiled). In addition, natural disasters in the form of hurricanes, tornados, and wildfires cost the United States nearly $200 billion last year alone. With a potential disaster just one keystroke or storm away, data backup and replication are of the utmost importance. And while these two terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Understanding the difference is crucial to the safety and security of your data.

 

Data Backup Versus Data Replication

Backing up data is a relatively inexpensive way to avoid total data loss. It involves taking “snapshots” of data at a specific moment in time, and storing it on archival tapes or disks at an offsite, company-owned location. While backups are recommended every 24 hours, many companies only backup once per week due to the technology drain that’s put on the server. While valuable for compliance purposes, data backup does not offer business continuity in the event of a cyber incident or disaster.  Restoration from a tape or disk can often take days, and if the backup was only being performed once per week, seven days of lost data may be unacceptable for your business.

Data replication, on the other hand, involves synchronous or near-synchronous replication of data somewhere other than the company’s sites, such as a data center, colocation facility, or public or virtual private cloud (VPC). With replication, applications and processes remain available, regardless of an incident, as they are being maintained in real-time with a host. In addition, continuous data protection has very granular recovery points, so companies can choose which point in time to recover to, in case the most recent data is corrupted. Data replication should be incorporated in every company’s disaster recovery plan.

 

The 3-2-1 Rule

While this is officially a backup strategy coined by Peter Krough, an expert in digital asset management, the 3-2-1 rule does include maintaining data offsite, such as in the cloud where it can be continuously replicated. It works like this:

 

3 copies of your data should be maintained

Keeping three copies of data on separate devices (primary plus two backups) minimizes risk through probability. Pretend the probability of failure for each device is 1/100. If data is maintained on one device, there’s a 1/100 chance of losing it. Maintain a secondary device, and the chances of losing data drop to 1/10,000. Now, maintain three backups, and the risk drops to 1/1,000,000—much better odds!

2 independent storage mediums should be used

In the above scenario, each device was treated the same, with no common failure causes across them. Typically, however, when one device fails, another will quickly follow suit. By using two types of storage devices (for example, an internal hard drive, and a removable medium such as tapes, external hard drives, USBs, etc.), the risk of both failing remains low.

1 backup copy should be stored offsite

Keeping all data in one location is like keeping all eggs in one basket. Physical separation between copies is a necessity, especially for small- and medium-sized organizations with no remote offices to store backups. For them, storing backups in a third-party data center is a good solution; and if they want continuous data protection, many data centers can also offer data replication services.

 

Data Replication Through a Data Center with Geodiverse Offerings

The cloud is an ideal solution for organizations wanting continuous data protection through data replication. It’s important, however, to be sure the cloud provider can store data in geographically diverse locations to safeguard against loss or interruption. Many small- and medium-sized organizations like their third-party data center to be close enough for easy physical access to their servers, but if that data center only operates out of one location (presumably near the client), they may be affected by a disaster as well. However, a provider with geodiverse, or geo-redundant data centers, can easily move data to another location. Hurricane projected to hit Florida, where both the data center and client are located? No problem, if the data center has a location, say, in the Midwest, they can reroute data through that center, keeping it protected and accessible to their clients.

 

Choosing a Cloud Provider When You Have Data Management Software

If you’re concerned about the security of your data and want to ensure continuous data protection through data replication, DSM can help. Even if you’re already using on-premise data management (DM) software such as Veeam, Zerto, or Commvault, you can now get physical and virtual backups offsite through DSM to replicate virtual machines—without the cost or complexity of building and maintaining offsite infrastructure. DSM cloud data backup services work seamlessly with DM software for fast and secure backups, controlled within their interface. If you’re a Florida-based organization, you’ll appreciate knowing our headquarters are here too; and with our expanded VMware vCloud options in Phoenix and Atlanta, we can keep your data protected through geo-diversity, even if a disaster strikes the Sunshine State. Want to learn more? Contact the experts at DSM today.

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