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Are you Leaving Endpoints Exposed?

We all know the drill when it comes to data protection: make sure that you can failover servers and business-critical applications in the case of an outage, right? Well, in reality that’s only a fraction of the real picture.

Most businesses these days are either leaving data completely unprotected, or not sufficiently protected. Instead, this is what the data protection plan looks like for a typical SMB:

  • Servers, critical business applications: Disaster Recovery functionality is in place
  • Branch offices, remote workers, endpoints: EXPOSED
  • Cloud Applications (O365, Salesforce.com, G Suite, Box, Dropbox): EXPOSED

While we’ve taken into account servers and mission critical apps, there’s in fact a large portion of business data that isn’t sufficiently protected. There are many reasons for this; Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is one trend that presents challenges with endpoint backup and recovery. Cloud apps add yet another hurdle as they will generally have retention policies in place — say 30 days — but after that the data is gone. Forever. So how do we work around this in order to completely protect our business data?

In this post, we’re taking a closer look at endpoint data protection. In earlier days (read: before BYOD), there was less to worry about when it came to endpoints. As employees started creating, editing, and storing business data on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, it suddenly became a data protection concern that needed to be addressed. What would happen if one of those devices was lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised by hackers? What would happen if one of those employees became disgruntled and left the company – taking along with them, valuable business data? It’s all too easy to leave a smartphone in a taxi, spill coffee across a laptop, or have a tablet go missing in an airport.

Protecting this data, of which 60% is unique and does not exist in other backups, can be an issue with IT. Let’s just say that the management of thousands of endpoints isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Aside from the IT nightmare it presents, most businesses see endpoint data protection as an expensive add-on of which those budget dollars should be spent elsewhere.

We’ve also heard the common viewpoint of, “I have all of my data synced via a sync & share product, so it’s protected.” Sorry to break this to you, but your consumer-grade sync & share does not mean you have a backup at all. If you delete a file from your sync, it’s also deleted on your device. There is no replicated copy for recovery.

So, what is the solution for endpoint data protection? First, consider the types of endpoints you have to protect within your business:

  • Laptops including Windows and Mac
  • Tablets and smartphones across Android and iOS

You need a solution that can protect across varying device types and operating systems. Next, centralize all this data in the cloud with a provider that gives you cloud flexibility. Remote backup and recovery from the cloud is especially important with endpoints, as they’re in distributed environments and can’t always be physically accessed by IT. Whether you have your own data center and need to utilize a private cloud or prefer to use a public or vendor cloud, it’s important to have cloud choice. When it comes time for a recovery, you’ll be glad you did. Transparent deployment that stays out of an end-user’s way will make make it much easier when rolling our your endpoint backup solution.

Additional mobile device management (MDM) features are a critical component to a proper endpoint data protection strategy. Geo-locate and remote wipe, for example, can mean the all the difference between having your data fall into the wrong hands versus staying secure and protected. With geo-locate you’ll be able to determine when and where the data is accessed, as well as by who. Geo-fencing capabilities can prevent access to devices should they turn up in a geographically un-allowed area. Remote wipe capabilities, specifically select wipe, will allow for only business data to be wiped, leaving personal data unaffected, should an employee wish to part ways with a company unexpectedly.

Once you have your solution in place, you’ll want to set up frequent backups — multiple times per day — in order to capture newly changed or created files. Backup all devices on any OS, protect it in the cloud, access it anytime, from anywhere. For IT, this solution will not only alleviate the historical problems and concerns with endpoint backup and recovery, but it will make their jobs easier in the long run.

For a more detailed look at endpoint protection tips and strategies, check out our recent webinar! This on-demand webinar provides insight to the blind spot of backup, endpoint data protection. You’ll learn how to utilize the cloud to fix backup’s blind spot. You’ll hear from both Infrascale and Storage Switzerland to learn the tips and trips for endpoint backup and disaster recovery. You won’t want to miss it, watch on-demand now: Using The Cloud To Fix Backup’s Blind Spot: Endpoint Data Protection.

Will Your DR Solution Rise to the Challenge?

This may sound like a familiar situation: You have the latest and greatest disaster recovery software available. You have carefully designed processes in place to monitor the system, to be sure that the backup jobs run when scheduled and all your data is protected. Your system supports Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) to dissimilar hardware, so you will be able to restore your systems on new hardware, if needed. All this gives you 100% confidence that, in the event of a disaster, you can recover all your systems and get your infrastructure back up and running. Sounds like your data protection plan is on point, but even assuming that you can recover these critical systems just as expected, we have some news for you. You’re still not properly protecting your business.

The problem arises from the fact that traditional disaster recovery was originally developed even prior to internet, when the pace of business was slow as a snail compared to today’s standards. Businesses could accept a longer Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Systems were less complex, which aided in making traditional disaster recovery an acceptable solution. The transaction rate of most businesses would allow a down time of a few hours with little problem, and even a day or two with some inconvenience. In today’s world, not only would such disruptions in vital systems be unacceptable, but the complexity of modern systems would add to the recovery time afforded by typical disaster recovery solutions. What is needed is a modern disaster recovery solution, that also provides business continuity functionality, at a price that everyone can afford.

In the past, disaster recovery solutions were so costly and sophisticated that only the largest companies had the financial resources to afford them (not to mention the staff to operate them). Only the “big guys” were able to benefit from virtual non-stop operation of their IT infrastructure. At the time, most disaster recovery systems consisted of duplicate environments idling along with a team to manage the failover — should the need arise.  Fortunately, technology evolved, and thanks to virtualization, orchestration, deduped file systems and the cloud, true business continuity is now available within the budget of companies of any size.

To get a better idea of the difference between legacy disaster recovery and today’s DRaaS solutions, let’s examine the workflow differences between the two solutions once a failure occurs. The goal of a traditional disaster recovery solution is to allow the restoration of individual systems back to physical or virtual hardware from some type of backup. The problem with this approach is several fold:

  • It is focused on the individual systems and not the entire infrastructure. This means that all the dependencies for services necessary for the operation of restored systems are a manual process and therefore slow and prone to human error. Imagine repointing IP addresses and MX records manually after the restoration of an Exchange server.
  • It is dependent on the limitations of the availability of physical hardware or virtual systems that are largely manually configured.
  • Typically, large amounts of data are moved from backup locations to target systems to complete the restoration of failed systems. This includes: operating systems, applications, databases and data. This is always a slow process.

In the end, this all adds up to a very time-consuming and tedious process, that often requires several attempts and re-work to get everything functioning as it should.

The goal of a modern DRaaS solution is to restore the function of the entire IT infrastructure after a single or multi-system failure, while minimizing human intervention and downtime. To do this, the business continuity solution leverages several key technologies:

  • Virtualization — provides complete flexibility in deploying any scale of machine at any location which allows your business to dramatically speed recovery time in the event of a disaster, and also allows you to test multiple disaster scenarios without affecting your daily operational processes, so that you can be ready at a moment’s notice.
  • Orchestration — orchestration creates intelligent workflows to support real-time recovery of applications by understanding the dependencies of applications and systems and ensuring that each process comes back in the correct order and in a completely automated fashion.
  • Data deduplication — one of the advantages of data deduplication is the ability to replicate a reduced data set to a remote location without the same network bandwidth requirements as conventional replication. It also makes it easier for replication to occur at any time due to the small amount of data that actually has to travel between locations.
  • Cloud based resources — having the ability to spin up applications and systems remotely allows complete flexibility for your business, even in the event of your primary business location becoming completely unavailable. It also provides complete flexibility and scalability for your business because the cloud-based environment is able to instantly provision any environment your business may require.

In the end, a well designed DRaaS solution will restore the function of your entire IT infrastructure with a single click and do so in a less than 15 minutes. Traditional Disaster Recovery solutions cannot match this as they were not designed for rapid recovery of complex interconnected systems. The pace of today’s business and the complex IT infrastructures used to maintain that pace require a modern system designed to meet the challenge.