Chances are good that backups are a very important part of your company’s IT strategy. They’re vital for many reasons, including the prevention of valuable data loss. Although backups can be (and often are) a valuable part of business continuity, they are not one and the same. Understanding the difference between backups and business continuity can help you make better decisions about your company’s IT needs.
The Benefits and Limitations of Data Backups
A data backup is redundancy in its simplest form. Imagine that you run a small business, and you store shipping and billing data for about 5000 customers. A data backup is just that – another source where data is stored, either physically or on the cloud, so that you can retrieve this vital information in the event that your hard drive or server crashes. This is certainly a wonderful thing. You won’t lose your customers’ information, and you can continue running your business – to a degree.
Now, imagine that you have a server hosting your company’s website, which provides your customers with access to the service they pay for. You can certainly back up your server data, but if that server crashes, what happens to your website? It gives users an error, those users can’t access it, and business can’t continue. How many customers will want refunds, or at least partial refunds? How much money will an outage – even if it’s just for one day – cost? That’s where business continuity strategy comes in.
The Need for Business Continuity
Business continuity ensures that if something happens to your main server, your business will still continue as usual with minimal downtime, if any at all. These days, people have come to expect continuous uptime, and if you can’t provide it, then your clients and customers will likely find a new service provider in relatively short order. That’s why it’s important to put a continuity strategy, complete with data backup, into place.
Business continuity requires planning and constant testing of metrics. You’ll need to device and develop things like recovery point and recovery time objectives (RPO and RTO, respectively) to understand how quickly you can recover data and how much data is truly at risk. When you understand these things, being able to provide continuous service, even in the face of a disaster or complete hardware failure, becomes possible.
Putting the Two Together
With all of this in mind, data backup is and always should be a very, very important part of your business continuity strategy. After all, if you lose your company data, you can’t operate. Just keep in mind that actual business continuity is about far more than just scheduling backups. You can consider a variety of continuity options ranging from cloud storage to colocation, and each comes with its own unique set of benefits. You’ll find options that are affordable, flexible, scalable, and above all else, reliable.
Backups and business continuity are both very important to your company’s overall success, but they are not the same things. Business continuity requires careful planning on a variety of fronts, including things like disaster recovery. When you have all of your bases covered, providing uninterrupted service to clients and customers is far less daunting.