Ensuring business continuity by protecting corporate data

Business is becoming increasingly data-driven. Even if your company deals primarily in physical products and services, your supply chain will be managed using networked data resources. A breakdown in access to this data, or worst still a complete loss, can rupture business continuity, or even seriously affect your company's solvency. However, recent developments that have increased the usefulness of data to business, in particular mobile devices and cloud virtualisation, have also increased the problems for security and integrity. In this article, we look at how you can ensure your business data remains protected and available in this exciting new computing landscape.

A key challenge to protecting your data is what has come to be known as BYOD, where companies allow employees to use their own smartphones, tablets and notebooks for office work. This can even be seen as an incentive to workers, who don't want to be tied to unexciting, uniform corporate offerings when they have the latest and greatest at home. But these devices generally don't fit within your existing network security.

Your network will most likely be populated with devices running Microsoft Windows. BYOD devices, in contrast, could be running iOS, Android, or MacOS. Employees will be accessing business data using these devices, and potentially copying it locally so they can take it with them on the move. But these devices probably won't be part of your backup regime, and if they are stolen, the security they have will at best be out of your company's direct control, and probably non-existent. The increasing use of mobile devices will also be push your wireless network to the limit, as well as your connection to the Internet when these devices are outside your network and accessing internal network resources from a remote location.

A similar challenge is posed by virtualisation. Heavy use of cloud storage and applications, particularly when hosted internally and accessed by external devices, will test your networking infrastructure. Nevertheless, cloud-based services have provided companies with vastly increased flexibility. Dynamic provisioning platforms such as HP CloudSystems with HP Cloud Maps have made the allocation of network application resources both rapid and simple to implement. But the dynamic nature of these resources makes them naturally more complex to backup. The software agents required by traditional backup systems will usually require licensing per virtual machine, which will be pricey and hard to manage, and also likely to eat into processing power and bandwidth. So an agentless solution specially designed for virtual machines will be preferable, such as Veeam Backup and Replication, which supports both VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines.

Coping with these new business paradigms necessitates scalable storage, easy to use backup, and methods for bringing new BYOD devices into the security fold. HP provides a comprehensive range of Secure Access and Continuity products that address precisely these issues. HP IMC Smart Connect Virtual Appliance Software comes with a WLAN manager that will take control of how mobile devices are accessing the network. Client virtualisation provides a uniform, secure desktop experience for a wide variety of client devices. HP supports Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix VDI-in-a-Box, Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and VMware View, so any of these virtual machines can be used to provide cloud desktop applications to your mobile devices, keeping the experience mobile whilst the data remains within corporate control.

As a business expands to new locations, or acquires other companies in new areas, the problem of backing up remote data will be further accentuated. HP's StoreVirtual VSA software uses a virtual machine to group existing storage into a virtual iSCSI array, and then offers two options for replicating data between sites. It works with existing VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V servers, converting their resources into a storage tier. The remote copy feature protects entire volumes from failure by copying between locations, even over low bandwidth. Alternatively, Veeam Backup and Replication software can take snapshots of critical virtual machines that can then be restored if there is a failure, with an HP server automatically recovering the StoreVirtual storage array, minimising the loss in service.

HP Simply StoreIT Solutions for Data Protection group together all the software your organisation needs to keep its data secure in the new mobile, BYOD and virtualised world. Alongside the Veeam agentless Backup and Recovery software for virtual machines, which is aimed at companies up to 1,000 employees, there's HP Data Protector. This is designed specifically to protect virtualised servers, with comprehensive hypervisor support, and is aimed at companies with more than 1,000 employees. Partnering with this, HP's Modular Smart Array (MSA) SAN storage arrays, such as the HP MSA 2000, support FibreChannel, iSCSI, or both combined, and have a modular structure so capacity can be expanded incrementally. HP StoreOnce backup systems provide automated, centralised backup for various sizes of office, with deduplication to reduce the storage requirement for backups containing many copies of the same files. For smaller or mid-sized offices, HP StoreEasy supports from hundreds to thousands of users, and also supports deduplication, encryption, amongst other industrial-strength features.

We have already discussed the benefits of HP StoreVirtual VSA in a virtual machine environment. Allied with HP ProLiant racks or BladeSystems, StoreVirtual can provide a turnkey scale-out solution that can be expanded in modular fashion as required. But for long-term storage, tape still provides the most cost-effective option. HP StoreEver can accommodate up to 70PB of data and keep it secure for up to 30 years, using LTO-6 drives. Tying this all together is HP Intelligent Management Center (IMC), which is modular, supports multiple vendors, and can be used to manage an entire, geographically dispersed company. It combines management, monitoring and security for both wired and wireless networks.

Tackling the data security needs of your company in the BYOD, virtualised world requires a more sophisticated approach. Agentless backup software such as Veeam can keep your virtual machines secure, and ready to be reinstated quickly in the case of a break in service. HP's comprehensive support for virtual machines different vendors puts them in a unique position to maintain continuity across a heterogeneous network, keeping everything secure. This means your BYOD devices can be given a uniform, secure experience no matter what their underlying platform. Protecting corporate data requires a partner that can cope with the many devices and virtual environments your business will be using today, and HP's range and flexibility puts it in a unique position to meet this challenge.

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