Better Business Continuity for SMEs

Many small businesses face cost and technical business continuity challenges. A cloud-based back up and recovery system can resolve many of these challenges.

It goes without saying that large enterprises will inevitably have carefully crafted disaster recovery plans in place. While corporates may have the budget for such an approach, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often find that they simply cannot justify the investment required to implement a large-scale disaster recovery plan. Instead, they are forced to rely on the hope that their backups are able to be recovered.

Unfortunately, more often than not, the back up plan’s SMEs have used are not effective and they result in lost data. This could end up destroying the company entirely. It is for this reason that proper backup and recovery systems should be considered a critical element of business continuity and sustainability.

“It is understandable that backup tends to be a low priority for the SME market”, explains Nicolas Blank, Group CEO of NBConsult at NBCube, “since there are so many issues that always require attention in a business, and so few people to deal with all of them.”

“SMEs often assume that backing up to the cloud will take care of all their worries, but there remain dangers posed by this method – especially to SMEs, which don’t always have the technical and IT skills to undertake this properly,” he says.

“For example, it is quite common for SMEs to use the OneDrive sync app as a backup alternative, because it copies files stored locally on a device to a SharePoint document library. However, this method presents a set of challenges. For example, a sync relationship exists between the user’s PC and the cloud, meaning that changes made to a local document will be automatically replicated to the copy, even if this is not wanted or required.”

“For this reason, it is far better to perform a proper backup”, adds Blank, pointing out that there are numerous benefits obtained from a hybrid cloud backup solution. Key amongst these is that your backups can be safely stored off site, using Microsoft Azure, without a sync relationship affecting unwanted changes to the backup.

“This helps to deal with another challenge, namely the importance of compliance, something that SMEs, by their nature as small entities, are not always renowned for managing well. Storing backups off site ensures that they are properly compliant with legislation like PoPIA and GDPR.”

“In fact, we recommend a three-stage backup and encryption approach for protecting your data. The rule is: keep at least three copies of your data, and store two backup copies in different storage locations, with one of them located offsite. The local copy can be used for faster and cheaper restores, while the copy stored offsite in the cloud is in case of disaster at the onsite location.”

He notes that automation can be a huge boon here, as backups are configured on a requirement basis – but can be done daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, in order to provide a tiered backup and restoration approach.

“Automation is important for two reasons. Firstly, it is set-and-forget. It is only configured once. Secondly, it cannot be forgotten. It runs on a set schedule with no human intervention required.”

“Of course, backing up is only the first part. It is just as vital to be sure that you can restore effectively, should this become necessary. Our solution allows for the monitoring and management of backups and any errors that may occur. There is also a non-negotiable quarterly restore test run for the client,” he says.

NBCube prefers to utilise Microsoft Azure for backup and recovery for several reasons. For example, reporting is available from the backup agent itself for auditing. Furthermore, Microsoft Azure is highly secure and includes encryption of data in transit and at rest. Also, the Microsoft data centre is highly secure and security documentation is available for review online.

For the SME sector this is vital, as it delivers security and recoverability of data in the case of a disaster. It is obviously a far better and safer option than utilising sync for your backups, which leads to a sense of security that can easily be shattered when a disaster happens. It is only at the point of data loss that the SME may discover that, recovering their data is either very difficult and costly, or at times, completely impossible.

It is important to understand that digital transformation is the way of the future. In this ever-evolving environment, SMEs need to manage their risk properly. This includes backing up in the same way larger companies do. Using an automated and managed approach to backup provides resilience, as well as fast recovery from downtime. This allows the SME to level up and respond faster to attacks or breaches than their competitors, keeping them ahead of their rivals and ensuring they suffer minimal impact from such an event.

Similar explanation to paragraph 6, both touching on the idea of sync vs backup. Maybe ideas from both paragraphs can be combined into a single one? Is there room for a small explanation on what sync is? The paragraph alludes to a difference between the two but stops there. [SD1]

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