Remote Data Centers: What’s the Missing Link?

You may have a great offsite backup tape management system in place. But adding a single step to the process can boost efficiency without pulling your staffers away from core business tasks.

Iron Mountain’s BackupCareTM service lets you maintain Chain-of-Custody by providing seamless offsite management of your backup tapes. In addition to picking up and dropping off your backup tapes, an Iron Mountain Transportation Service Specialist will swap media in and out of the drives. This protects your data not only as it travels to and from Iron Mountain’s secure tape vaults, but also within your remote data center or colocation facility. Quite simply, it’s a level of security your backup media deserves.

The success of a secure, responsive data backup program is in the details. All it really takes is one lapse in an otherwise foolproof program to spoil your best-laid plans. This is especially true regarding backup tapes that your company creates and/or stores offsite, either at a colocation facility or remote data center.

In the typical remote data backup program, the basic guidelines call for someone to perform scheduled tape swaps in and out of the drives. Who is that someone? Do you send an employee from your firm to the remote location? Do you rely on the service provider to do it for you? If you opt for the latter, can you trust your provider to manage this task properly?

Making the Perfect Tape Swap 

Asking someone from your team to visit a remote location, swap the tapes, and transport them back and forth is far from an ideal solution to remote backup management challenges. Doing so wastes your employee’s time while also compromising security and Chain-of-Custody. Suppose your employee stops for lunch and leaves the backup tapes sitting in her car, unattended, in a diner parking lot? Or what if she makes a quick run to pick up the kids at school—and one of them spills a juice box in the backseat?

When you consider such everyday perils, it makes sense to assign backup tape swapping and management chores to the staff at your colocation facility. However, doing this requires a certain level of trust. How well do you know that team’s procedures? Have they been well trained at swapping tapes in a way that matches your security needs? Have you made a service-level agreement with the colocation facility that covers all details of managing your backup tapes?

Clearly, you need to find a partner who cares about your data as much as you do. One solution is to make the tape swapping task part of a complete data backup management system from a single trusted partner. That partner can also securely transport tapes from your offsite backup location. Once you have the transportation piece in place, it’s just one more step to ask the same partner to swap the backup tapes.

The right partner visits your sites on a schedule you create jointly to service your backup devices and swap the backup tapes. Those tapes then travel in secure and environmentally controlled vehicles to the secure storage facility. All along the way, your partner is tracking the tapes to create a single, ironclad Chain-of-Custody for regulatory and legal purposes. Because your partner scans each backup tape as it’s pulled from the drive, you also have the advantage of knowing, in real time, each tape’s location. The service provider’s software monitoring system also notifies you when all the work is done.

Essential Tweaks: Building the Optimal Tape Backup System

If you’ve created an offsite backup tape management system that protects your company’s vital information, then you’ve already tackled a critical business task. But at the same time, it’s wise to ask yourself: “Could we do even better?” Here’s what else to consider:

  • Does our backup tape management system require attention from staffers who should be focusing on other work?
  • How well does this system preserve the Chain-of-Custody we’re required to maintain, based on regulatory standards?
  • Is our program relying on offsite, third-party service providers whose training may not be up to the task?
  • Is our system as cost-efficient as possible?

The Joys of Doing It Right

With that one simple addition to your backup tape management routine, you eliminate the need for your own staff or the remote facility’s staff to handle backup tape swapping. You also are assured that the Chain-of-Custody is tight and intact, and that the job is done at a predictable cost. What’s more, since you’re now essentially able to operate “lights out,” you’ll likely identify new efficiencies to justify the cost of your backup partner’s expert help.

It’s simple, really. If your data is going to leave your office—and it is—then it should be in the hands of a partner you can trust.

Iron Mountain Suggests: How to Choose the Right Partner

Look for a tape management partner that delivers not just backup tapes, but also the kind of best practices that will give you peace of mind. These include:

  • The creation and maintenance of a backup tape-rotation schedule that suits your company’s individual needs
  • Assurance of an overarching, strict Chain-of-Custody
  • Real-time, online access to tape-backup status
  • A 24/7 emergency-response program that assures business continuation in the event of a disruption

Do you have questions about data backup and recovery? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Backup and Recovery team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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