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Evolving Data Environments Require a Modern Approach to Disaster Recovery


Ask any IT professional, and they’ll be quick to tell you that IT disasters do happen. In one survey conducted by Disaster Recovery Journal, more than one-third of companies queried have had to initiate their Disaster Recovery (DR) plan, and it’s safe to assume that many more have done so. DR has become an essential component of today’s IT function. For any company to maintain business operations in case of a natural, technology, or man-made disaster, they need to have a solid plan in place. The DR Plan needs to be tested regularly because you really don’t want to find out that your plan doesn’t work the way you expect it to, while you’re in the middle of a disaster.

Unlike in the early days of IT disaster recovery, business-critical data now spans both multiple data types and multiple locations. IT departments must plan for not only “traditional” DR outages like floods and hurricanes – and their resultant interruptions in utility services – but also for software bugs, hardware failures, and emerging DR threats like cyberattacks and ransomware. Having a comprehensive DR plan that can address these new challenges is crucial.

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Multiple data types face multiple threats

Not so long ago, a company could get by with a single DR plan that would be sufficient to protect all their mission-critical data. After all, production data typically resided within a single on-site datacenter, and ran on just a small number of application and database servers. But with the introduction of diverse data types running across multiple applications and databases, the appearance of scores of end-point devices like laptops and tablets, and the adoption of public and private clouds, IT departments must now provide a comprehensive recovery plan that can adequately protect these new data types and devices. The DR plan also needs to provide a simplified methodology for recovering all that data, in the event of a disaster. And, to accommodate the ever-increasing flow of new data into the enterprise, it must be both scalable and flexible.

Traditional disaster recovery focused primarily on things like hardware failure, utility outages, and natural disasters such as storms, flooding, and earthquakes – commonly referred to as a smoking-hole scenario. But the emergent threat posed by cybercrime, malware, and ransomware has taken precedence and – being less predictable – is one that requires a much more aggressive and proactive approach to backup and disaster recovery.

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Prevention is necessary but not foolproof

Being prepared for these kinds of attacks isn’t simply a matter of hardening your perimeter security. You also need to shift your thinking from “it won’t happen to us,” to “how do we prepare for when it does happen to us?” Anti-virus and anti-malware tools are great at helping to detect known variants and reduce their spread. Yet none of these technologies are guaranteed to prevent an attack launched from within, for example, by an employee inadvertently clicking on a “questionable” link and unleashing some malicious code. And once an attack starts, you might only discover that it’s spreading by monitoring the small amount of network traffic that’s being generated in transferring the worm code. Unless, of course, the code is creating a VPN and replicating your data to a secure external facility – a new trend known as leakware, for you GDPR-savvy folks. Other clues might include an unusual amount of change occurring on your system’s data.

So, in addition to prevention, you need to be able to monitor for anomalies. Done properly, backup systems can monitor your data and its change rates, and alert you to aberrations. For example, if a critical system suddenly rewrote its data blocks all the way back down to storage, your backup system should be able to detect it. The delta backup might resemble a full backup, or your snapshot might suddenly be the size of a mirror copy. Things like that should be enough to get the attention of your system administrators. But even that kind of recognition is simply too slow. You need to be proactive… with a vengeance.

While the typical DR plan has always planned for “traditional” outages – like a natural disaster or power outage – you now need to make provisions for these new, unpredictable risks. Threats such as ransomware, exposed copies of data in public cloud, undiscovered bugs in embedded code, etc., can have a far greater impact on your operations than a “smoking-hole” DR outage. And, depending on the affected data type, you might well require unique recovery methods and strategies. Thus, in addition to accommodating these new data types, applications, and the general glut of incoming data, your modern DR plan needs to be able to adequately address these emergent threats to your business.

How Do You Protect Your Data When It’s Everywhere? - Figure 1

Traditional, linear DR plans weren’t built to accommodate multiple data types and sources, let alone emergent cyber threats.

Of course, because of these continually-evolving disaster recovery requirements, many IT departments find themselves using multiple tools for data protection and recovery. This is a result of many applications today requiring different methods to protect against various threats, without much overall uniformity. This adds complexity and increases the cost of planning, implementing, and performing DR operations. While companies understand that they need to address these new challenges aggressively, they’re also looking for solutions that can reduce overall complexity, and can do so in a way that’s both efficient and cost-effective. Those companies that are reliant on multiple point solutions for recovery are now seeing their limitations, up close and personal.

How Do You Protect Your Data When It’s Everywhere? - Figure 1

Emerging threats add complexity to your DR initiatives, and increase the cost of planning, implementing, and performing your DR operations.

The modern DR plan needs to focus on more than just attaining a low Recovery Point Objective (RPO); it must also account for both time-delayed copies and network-isolated copies, sometimes called air-gapped copies. Using multiple technologies to achieve different data copies to protect against various threat types introduces additional risk and management overhead. These can be a distraction that makes it difficult to remain vigilant against new threats. The ideal data protection platform needs to be aware of all your copies, and be able to manage and report on the status of each copy, regardless of their location.

Like most businesses today, your data is probably spread across multiple components in your environment. Your recovery solution needs to be capable of spanning those multiple components. For example, a company might have endpoint devices – laptops and mobile devices – that access data and services that are spread across both SaaS in the cloud and in traditional databases running in their datacenter. If they’re using SAN replication in the datacenter to protect the database, that should enable recovery for a localized disaster – such as a power outage or natural disaster – but it might not protect them from risks that affect multiple data layers in their environment. Similarly, if they were a victim of a cyberattack that had affected both their SaaS data and their on-premise SAN replication, they might still be facing a serious interruption in their business operations, despite having invested in DR technologies. As your risks become more complex, you need a modern DR solution – one that can recover data across all components of your environment – and can facilitate recovery of your endpoint applications…a DR solution like the one offered by Commvault.

How Do You Protect Your Data When It’s Everywhere? - Figure 1

Commvault Software provides a single, unified platform for disaster recovery and provides a cost-effective and scalable solution that can meet any company’s DR requirements.

We know that we need to provide protection and recovery for multiple data types, across multiple components, all of which are spread across physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Does this sound complex? It can be. In a perfect world, you’d have some mechanism for bringing it all together, and providing a “single pane of glass” view through which you can manage and execute against your DR strategy.

Commvault’s web-based Commvault Command Center provides just such a mechanism. With the Commvault Command Center, you can initiate and monitor the recovery of multiple data types – across endpoints, applications, file systems, virtual machines, and the cloud – regardless of where they reside, and all with just a couple clicks of the mouse. The recovery can be done locally from a previous good backup point, but the data can also be recovered from an alternate DR facility – including into the public cloud – as part of an automated DR failover plan.

With the Commvault data protection platform, you can protect and recover data in common SaaS applications, including Microsoft® Office 365®,, and many others. You can protect your data in common end-points such as Apple iOS and Android devices, in addition to protecting many new and traditional enterprise applications, databases, file-systems, and hypervisors. Chances are, if you have it running today, Commvault has a technique that can protect and recover the data inside that layer of your environment.

How Do You Protect Your Data When It’s Everywhere? - Figure 1

Commvault’s HTML5-based Commvault Command Center provides an intuitive mechanism for consolidating and controlling your data environment, regardless of where it resides.

Bottom line? With Commvault’s single, unified data protection platform, it’s remarkably easy to protect all your data types, while balancing your costs and SLAs, and retaining the flexibility needed to accommodate changing business needs. Commvault® software delivers disaster recovery functionalities that match the dynamic, complex nature of today’s enterprise data environments. That means supporting multiple data recovery tiers, extending into applications, endpoints and more, while providing you with the freedom to choose whichever infrastructure mix best fits your needs and budget.

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About Commvault

Commvault’s converged data management solution redefines what backup means for the progressive enterprise through solutions that protect, manage, and use their most critical asset: their data. With a range of innovative product offerings — including Commvault Complete™ Backup & Recovery; Commvault HyperScale™; Commvault Orchestrate™; and Commvault Activate™ — Commvault offers the most comprehensive backup and recovery, storage infrastructure, service delivery orchestration, and data governance available today.

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Learn more about Commvault Disaster Recovery solutions.