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5 Essential Cloud Data Recovery Lessons

Many organizations are taking advantage of the flexibility and economy of the cloud as a data storage location, but some aren’t fully extending data protection policies to the cloud.

Whether critical data is across clouds or there is just some data in the cloud, it’s essential for IT to understand cloud data recovery.

5 Essential Cloud Data Recovery Lessons

As more organizations adopt the cloud -and move critical business data to the cloud – there is a need to talk about managing the data. Keeping data available, even during any cloud issue, is a critical goal.

The cloud has a strong reputation for amazing uptime, however, only 99.5% uptime is guaranteed. Organizations need to create a strategy and plan for that other 0.5%.

When there is a cloud issue, customers are affected. In February 2017, the Amazon AWS cloud had an issue – the news was everywhere because the issue affected so many different kinds of websites. The numbers tell the story. According to the media, “During AWS' four-hour disruption, S&P 500 companies lost $150 million…”1

During that issue, government, tech, sales, marketing, academic and ecommerce sites were down or too slow to function. Companies lost money and people were upset.

But this wasn’t the only time a cloud had an issue. During a 2012 Microsoft Azure cloud outage, a UK travel agency was quoted in the media saying “Our live site's been down all day now, so we've been losing money."2

An enterprise’s most important, strategic and competitive asset is their data, so there must be a plan for protecting and managing the data that lives in the cloud. With some important steps and strategic thought, you can create a cloud data recovery plan.

Here are 5 lessons to develop a cloud data management strategy.

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Lesson 1: Know Where Your Data Lives

Understanding what data lives in different clouds, cloud regions, or cloud services is a great first step. There are three aspects to knowing where your data lives.

Document the locations of all data, whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud.

How much data does your enterprise have in the cloud – and which clouds?

  • Establishing cloud policies for line of business (LOB) cloud consumers and IT teams also means establishing cloud data policies around moving data to the cloud, managing data within clouds and the use of cloud data.
  • Work with business leads to understand what clouds they may be using without IT’s knowledge. Understand the use of the data living in those clouds.
  • Discover if any purchases were made without IT’s approval - and work to bring those clouds and that data under IT management.

The IT team should be actively managing data storage. This means regularly scheduled data backups, plus checks to make sure that the data backup worked.

Also, develop a policy for when and how data moves from one location to another. Data backup and data archiving can be automated, saving the IT team time and manual effort. Policies and timeframes can be established once and replicated across your data, or managed granularly for different types of data.

Many organizations are struggling with different point solutions for data management. If a cloud has an issue or outage, does the IT team know which backup system handles a specific cloud?

It’s really critical for you to have a handle on all of your data. Streamline to one comprehensive data management system that covers on-premises and cloud data, multiple formats and a full range of capabilities.

IT teams can be more efficient when they can flexibly manage on-premises and cloud data backup, recovery, management and e-discovery from a single platform.

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Lesson 2: Manage Data by Region

Actively manage the geographic regions where your data lives. Cloud providers are rapidly expanding their cloud support regions. Many countries require data to live in the country of origin, and more data regulations are evolving, so it is really critical to know where data lives across regions.

Critical data and services native to the cloud should ensure backups are scheduled in clouds, across clouds and from clouds to help ensure data is available.

For example, if a SaaS app writes data to a specific cloud in a specific region, be sure you have a backup option ready to go in a different region. If your data lives in the U.S. East region of a public cloud, ensure you have a complete data backup in the U.S. West region or in a region on another continent.

Make sure your data is always available in more than one region. Automated backups - and the ability to verify those backups – help ensure data copies are available across the cloud.

The right data management platform can help you streamline this process and keep your global IT team up and running, even in the event of a cloud issue.

5 Steps to Develop Your Cloud Data Management Strategy

Consider these five key elements for your cloud data management strategy

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Lesson 3: Have a Data Recovery Plan B

As an IT team, think about what you might do if your primary data storage location was unavailable? Develop a data recovery plan B.

First, plan to maintain a copy of your data outside your public cloud primary region. If your data is unavailable in your primary region, make sure a current copy is available in another region.

Data backup can be cloud to cloud, region to region, on-premises to cloud, cloud to on-premises. Find the right combination that works for your business.

Then, practice how to bring your services online somewhere else – if the first combination of data backup isn’t working for your company, change it.

Today you have the flexibility to change your mind and choose a different cloud storage location fairly quickly, depending on your business need. Changing storage locations is very efficient if you have a data management platform that gives you automation and orchestration to switch your storage locations to a setup that works better for the current business needs.

With the right data management platform, IT teams can practice bringing up services with much less pain that you may have experienced. A modern, comprehensive data management platform includes push button automation to spin up cloud space, securely migrate data to a cloud storage location and then turn off a data recovery test.

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Lesson 4: Develop a Data Management Strategy

Take time with your team, sit down and develop a data management strategy. Acknowledge this is a big project and one that is worth the time.

First, set data management policies. Talk with your line of business owners about their data management needs.

Consider your organization’s legal, financial, regional and regulatory compliance issues. Establish the data management policies that will guide your organization.

Remember a good data management platform can automatically apply policies to data. For example, if a new finance app enters the environment, a top notch data management platform will automatically apply the policies you developed for financial applications, streamlining the amount of work your team has to cover when a new app enters the environment.

Second, document, test, and communicate. Document your policy, test your policy on a regular basis and finally, make sure your IT team -- and line of business owners -- are well aware of the cloud data management policies before there is a business emergency.

Finally, plan how, why and when data can move across locations – and think about securing your data in transit.

Check with your cloud provider to understand how securely data moves into the cloud and if that complies with your enterprise regulations and comfort level.

Using a complete data management platform that secures data in transit can streamline the process, whether that data is moving to the cloud, across clouds, or back to a data center.

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Lesson 5: Staffing a Cloud Data Protection Project

Many CIOs – and CISOs – are educating the entire enterprise that data security is everyone’s business. IT teams are also now believing data protection is everyone’s priority.

With ransomware, hackers, and data leaks making the headlines, data management is not just the responsibility of “the backup guy.” Everyone in IT – CIO on down – has a responsibility for data protection and data management.

Engage the global IT team. Everyone from the apps team to the data team needs to be involved, especially if you need 24x7 support to manage data that may be in a cloud region on the other side of the world.

With the right data management tools, the IT team can manage cloud storage locations and data backups from anywhere, at any time. If a data incident or cloud outage happens while you are sleeping, teams in other regions need to be trained and prepared to enact your data recovery policies.

Automation and orchestration in a data management platform can save staff time and effort when an emergency happens. Your data management platform should be designed to provide best practice automation for repeatable tasks or scheduled work.

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Cloud data recovery – plan for today and tomorrow

Every day new statistics appear about the exponential growth of data. More data means more to manage, protect and access – a bigger job for your IT team.

Think about what’s coming next in your organization – more storage needs from advancements like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, virtual reality and whatever new innovation comes your way next. How will you manage even more data if you’re not managing it well today?

Just like you’ve automated so many things in your IT organization, automating data protection can help you to manage the exponential data protection requirements coming your way.

Make sure your data management platform automates polices, schedules backups, alerts you to issues and includes processes that can help you to manage the growth of data.

Case Study: HarperCollins

HarperCollins UK was the first trade publisher to digitize its content and create a global digital warehouse.

  1. Business Insider, Mar 2, 2017.
  2. ZDNet, Feb 29, 2012
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Learn more about cloud data management with helpful Commvault resources.