Secure Offsite Data Storage: It Keeps You Running

Topics: Data Archive

Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, power outages—a calamity can hit without warning. Your company’s best defense: a proactive and dynamic business continuity plan.

Batten down the hatches—the hurricane of the season is barreling up the coast!

Scan the headlines on any given week, or just click over to that weather-lover’s favorite site and you’ll find at least one reminder of what nature’s wrath is capable of.

Power surges, flash floods, earthquakes, a leaking roof—a host of catastrophes large and small can knock your business offline for days, even weeks. For some businesses, being down for even an hour can have a tremendous bottom-line impact. In a world full of risks, it’s easy to become worried.

But despite how sobering these thoughts can be, planning for the unexpected doesn’t need to come from a place of fear. Think of it instead as part of your company’s best practices and risk management planning—sensible steps to ensure your business is safe and buttoned-up before anything happens. Tape backup systems, offsite tape storage and vaulting, online backup systems, data restoration—these tools are not only great hedges against disaster, but also of lasting value to your day-to-day operations.

Don’t believe it? Take a few minutes to calculate the cost of your downtime by the hour, day or week. You’ll likely find that there’s a compelling business case for an investment in disaster recovery planning.

It’s All About the Data

By now you already know that data is your company’s lifeblood, and you need to protect it—not only because it contains all of your customer records and vital business information, but also because (depending on your industry) losing access to it even temporarily could put you in noncompliance with federal and/or state regulations, resulting in fines or penalties.

A well-rounded data backup and recovery strategy that incorporates offsite tape storage, online backup and data restoration, among other features, will dramatically shrink the risk of downtime and get your operations up and running as soon as possible after an outage. The basics: Back up your data to convenient storage formats; move it offsite; and make sure you can quickly restore it after an incident.

Getting Started

To create that crucially important data protection strategy, begin with these three steps:

1. Do Your Road Show: Get Approval and Funding

IT pros sometimes find that senior executives like the status quo and balk at sweeping changes—especially when “change” equals a bigger bite from their budget. You may need to make the case for a better business-continuity plan: Focus on downtime costs, for starters, and position the project as a cost-effective risk management strategy.

59 percent of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours of downtime per week, According to Dunn & Bradstreet, This means that if you take the average Fortune 500 company (10,000 or more employees) paid an average of $56 per hour, including benefits ($40 per hour salary + $16 per hour in benefits). The labor part of downtime costs for an enterprise this size would be $896,000 weekly, equaling more than $46 million annually

How about your industry?

2. Strive for Diversity: Explore Hybrid Options and Layers

More IT managers are taking a hybrid approach to data protection, often employing several technologies—such as offsite tape storage plus cloud storage—to create a layered strategy. Why? Flexibility and savings are key motivators. Cloud storage is best suited for short-term information, which typically comprises smaller sets of data that are accessed often. On the other hand, tape backup solutions are much more reliable and a less costly option for longer-term data archiving.

And don’t forget about compliant archiving: Tape lasts for decades, making it a safe technology for years of storage. Offsite tape storage is a great compliant archiving solution that can satisfy industry, federal and state regulations, particularly those that call for years of records archiving.

3. Take It Away: Focus on Offsite Solutions

How do you make sure that your data isn’t destroyed—even if your headquarters is? Maintain backup copies of your data at a secure and distant offsite storage facility, far from the fire, flood, tornado or leaky pipe causing havoc at your office.

A Business Continuity Checklist

Consider these straightforward steps to developing and maintaining a successful disaster-recovery strategy—today.

  • Prioritize your data. What are your data assets, where do you store them, and how are you backing them up? Start with an inventory of your information and an analysis of its life cycle from creation to destruction. Tape lifecycle management is part of this exercise.
  • Get buy-in now. All stakeholders from the top on down must accept, understand and participate in your business continuity and contingency plans. Evangelize often, and provide updates to keep the troops aware and supportive of your efforts.
  • Keep it simple. There’s no time to read manuals during a disaster. Make sure your instructions are brief and clear.
  • Communicate in a crisis. What will you do if normal lines of communication—including email—become unavailable? Establish dependable forms of backup communication. Some companies set up a toll-free number for employees to call to receive updates.
  • Start onsite. Ask your data-recovery partner to evaluate your onsite data storage setup to see what could be salvaged in an emergency situation. Then identify what you need to fix.
  • Go offsite. Secure offsite data storage will always be the key to effective disaster preparedness.
  • Test, and test again. It’s comparable to a fire drill. Conduct at least quarterly reviews of your procedures and systems, with a more complete test annually.
  • Review and revise. Keep your disaster recovery plan current and store it online for easy access for when you need it. As technologies, regulations and your business change, so should your business-continuity strategy. Your offsite data storage partner can keep you abreast of what’s new and trending.

Far From Home: Consider the Advantages

Offsite tape vaulting is the top choice for data backup and recovery and business continuity plans. A world-class data backup and restoration service:

  • Protects and tracks your media while in transit and in storage using online data tracking software—you can catalog what you’ll need first after a disruption
  • Responds quickly to audits and discovery requests
  • Maintains compliance through a strict chain of custody
  • Ultimately reduces both the risks and costs of managing offsite media

When making the case for an offsite data storage solution, call out these benefits to your management and colleagues. You’ll:

  • Gain peace of mind. When your data is secured offsite, you’ll feel more confident that the business is ready for just about anything. And you won’t worry that the company is putting your clients and customers at risk, either.
  • Take advantage of ultimate climate control. Environmental factors—heat, humidity, cold, even dust—can take their toll on backup tapes and paper over the long haul. House your backup tapes in a facility that neutralizes these conditions.
  • Benefit from compliance smarts. Your company may not even realize that its industry’s regulations require you to store your backup data in a safe, offsite location. Getting that information from an expert data storage partner could prevent future headaches and fines.
  • Enjoy ease of access. Close access doesn’t mean faster access. Having your backups on hand in the office doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find what you need in a hurry. An offsite data storage partner will organize your files and quickly deliver what you need, when you need it.
  • Benefit from lower costs. Outsourced offsite archiving is likely the most cost-effective option. You won’t need to build an archive yourself, nor will you be staffing it.
  • Add elbow room. Clearing your data center of archival backup tapes may be a great way to recover some valuable square footage.

The Brass Tacks of Safe, Reliable Offsite Storage

Once you’ve got top-level buy-in for the concept of secure offsite data storage, what’s next? Seek out a partner that’s ready to provide:

  • Best-practice security measures that safeguard backup tapes and other storage media—not only during transport but also in storage
  • Web-based offsite data tracking software that makes backups readily available for recovery whenever you need them
  • Auditing support that tracks storage media as it moves from your site to the storage site, to substantiate the chain of custody you’ll likely need to stay compliant
  • A fleet of specially designed transport vehicles
  • 24-hour emergency response services
  • A sole-occupant storage facility with strict, appointment-only visitor policies, multiple security controls, advanced fire-suppression systems, proximity to local emergency services and prescreened employees
  • Secure, environmentally controlled vaults supported by a fault-tolerant IT infrastructure
  • Electronic verification of credentials for any and all individuals involved in a media exchange

Start Today, Not Tomorrow

It’s time to be proactive. Disaster-recovery planning helps your business stay in control. Life may be unpredictable, but with the right plan for your records in place, you’ll be on your way to dealing with whatever Mother Nature, human error or just plain bad luck throws your way.

Iron Mountain Suggests: Call In the Experts

Iron Mountain has supported more than 250 major recovery efforts and 25,000 disaster-recovery tests. Its expertise can help you

  • Prepare for natural disasters and weather-related incidents
  • Build your emergency-preparedness plan
  • Test your disaster-recovery plan to ensure the continuity of your operations
  • Implement best practices to facilitate recovery, even if you have multiple locations

Iron Mountain’s Offsite Tape Vaulting uses the SecureSync® tape management portal, an online media management application, to help automate tape management between your locations and Iron Mountain facilities, as well as quick access to your disaster recovery plan.

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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