Without much notice, in the course of just a few weeks, remote working has become the norm across the globe. This, in turn, has hyper-accelerated the digital transformation of many enterprise companies across the globe. While a lot of organisations had already built the required infrastructure to allow off-site work, many others have been forced to escalate their plans. With the vast majority of employees now working from home, outside of on-premises IT environments, there is an unprecedented lack of control over IT best practices, workstations and how sensitive data is processed, handled and stored.
This change of circumstances is a key time for management and IT department teams to ensure that business-critical information and files are not lost or compromised when working outside the office. As employees are now out of the office, it has never been more important to have a secure, off-site, centralised backup system for organisations.
The importance of a centralised backup system in the cloud
It is essential that home workers are not saving data locally on their home workstations or in insecure consumer cloud storage siloed from the company. Document version management, security and encryption, and the ability to create and manage an audit trail are just a few data features that could be jeopardised by incorrect storage practices. A centralised backup system can add standardisation to enterprise data management, allow for team collaboration, compliance for data protection and data access continuity planning for employee turnover.
Instead of relying on local storage, companies should consider document repository systems such as SharePoint in order to centralise sensitive files —such as payroll information. This way, there is mitigation against home workstation failures, with files backed up in the cloud.
Opting for storage with a managed cloud solution provider means that data can be stored off-site, secured in racks regulated by experts and protected by biometric scanners, security guards and mantraps. Wherever employees are working, users that meet the required permission levels can access the same documents remotely from the data centre. Cloud storage ensures that nobody outside of your company can access your company data. Furthermore, with cloud storage internal disaster recovery platform– if a cloud node that serves your company goes down or a file is corrupted, there is a spare version ready to go.
From your employee or team's perspective, cloud access provides continuity in their work and allows them to operate business as usual. By leaning on the expertise of a managed host, businesses can ensure that their backup strategy meets the goals of their business and mitigates any risk in potential failures due to remote working. In turn, this minimises the data loss window and improves the Recovery Point Objective - the point in a server’s timeline that a business could return to after a disaster.
Key backup technologies to use
Once documents are stored in a cloud storage solution using a form of document repository, it is advisable to use a backup technology to provide a further layer of protection.
Market-leaders known to be reliable and effective at delivering this type of service include Nakivo, Veeam, and Avamar. Typically, these vendors would include regular automatic full server snapshot service and file-level recovery service depending on the customers’ requirements at any one given time. Your backup and disaster recovery service should be able to produce a documented process for file recovery and restoration.
Mistakes to avoid
As a general rule, you get what you pay for with backup technology so the cheapest solution is often not the best solution. Your cloud-storage is an integral part of your company operations and not worth scrimping on. Ensure the solution provider you are working with is ISO certified to ensure a high level of security standards and business practices.
Backups can quickly eat up a data store if they are not configured properly, so it is important to have a team of experts running your backup systems for you. An expert in this field should be able to advise about the different levels of storage technologies available depending on the frequency of access required for files.
One thing to watch out for is remote virtual-desktop solutions that rely on your office network and broadband connection. With the vast increase in employees working from home, your office broadband infrastructure could be overwhelmed and therefore impact on the speed and performance of your virtual desktop solution. A good way to ensure your cloud service's performance is speedy is to choose a backed-up cloud-based solution that is connected through an offsite data centre rather reliant on your office infrastructure.
Prepare for a return to the office
When workers begin to return to the office it is critical that you ensure all remote workers have completed a final sync to the document repositories and that no employees have saved any files to their local storage.
You should prepare for employees returning to the office by ensuring that there is a clause in your cloud vendor contracts to enable you to scale back the resources you have invested in when people are no longer working from home. Whatever your longer-term digital plans may be an organisation, you should consider whether the demand for cloud services during your office-shutdown will reduce when a normal work routine resumes.
Data loss can be detrimental to any business, so backups should be a staple part of every business's housekeeping.
Top tips to ensure business continuity
Make sure you choose a solution that can scale up and scale back down again in line with your company's Cloud requirements. Don't compromise on quality - your cloud storage is business-critical. Because of that, you should only work with vendors that are able to provide a solution for your business, that are dependable, and capable of offering the level of security and other key functions your employees and your business need to operate a 'business as usual' model.
If you plan for the short, medium and longer-term your performance should always be bullet-proof. Keep in mind that your employees will return to the office when it is safe to do so; the questions you should be asking yourself are, will you transition back to on-premises storage? A hybrid solution? Or was full-cloud storage something your organisation was working towards before this situation arrived?
If you are not sure what the best solution is, seek the advice of an expert. You'll find that you can get invaluable advice, guidance to keep you on the right track, and, more importantly, the peace of mind you need during these turbulent times.
Jon Lucas, co-founder, Hyve Managed Hosting