Disaster Recovery For Small Business

According to a three-year-old study from Price Waterhouse Coopers, 70 percent of small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year. It’s a sobering statistic. Yet despite the potentially devastating effects of data loss, too many small businesses don’t adequately protect themselves with a disaster recovery plan.

“A lot of small businesses are not doing what they should,” confirmed Rachel Dines, an analyst at Forrester Research who tracks disaster recovery trends and products. In one recent Forrester survey, 66 percent of small businesses with less than 100 employees admitted they did not have a business continuity or disaster recovery plan if their main office systems and servers went down.

“They’re [small businesses] generally further behind on this than mid-size companies and enterprises,” Jaworski said. “A lot put themselves at more risk than they should.”

Affordable Disaster Recovery Solutions

Part of the problem is that SMBs don’t know that affordable solutions exist, said Karen Jaworski, director of product management at i365, the company behind the EVault backup and business continuity products and services.

“This is a time of great change in the industry, with the emergence of cloud-based technologies and widespread availability of server virtualization,” Jaworski said. “We’ve been able to leverage this newly emerging delivery mechanism, and it’s changing the landscape and making disaster recovery a lot more affordable for small businesses.”

Many large enterprises still use remote hot recovery sites provided by companies such as SunGard, with duplicate systems and data so they can continue computing operations in the event of a disaster. But such outsourced services remain prohibitively expensive for small businesses and even some big corporations are looking for less costly alternatives.

At the other end of the spectrum, tape-based backup systems with offsite storage offer a simple and relatively inexpensive solution for SMBs, but they make recovery times unacceptably slow for most firms.  

Data Backup In The Cloud

Cloud computing — providing computer services and storage on remote servers that you can access over a high-speed Internet connection — makes it possible for companies like i365 to deliver relatively low-cost, near-real time online backup and data recovery services. (See What is Cloud Computing — and Why Should You Care?)

Cloud-based solutions keep data safe and allow companies to recover from anywhere even if their onsite computers and servers are inaccessible.

Server virtualization — running multiple completely separate virtual servers on a single computer — makes it economical for providers to offer low-cost off-site backup and recovery services by letting multiple clients share hardware and even software. (See 6 Tips to Better Small Business Server Virtualization.)

Virtual servers replicate not just data but entire applications or servers and make them available — from anywhere over the Internet — on relatively short notice if a company’s own servers and computers go down.

Companies that offer cloud-based services, like i365, offer online backup and replication of applications and server environments. If your systems fail, you can access your data from i365’s remote servers within as little as 24 hours.

The EVault suite also includes the option of onsite appliances — computers running EVault backup software that automatically replicate data in near real time to a local server.

With onsite appliances, you can recover data and systems much more quickly than you could with cloud-based services — but they don’t protect you if you can’t gain physical access to your office or data center.

Many Disaster Recovery Options

i365 is just one of several companies offering cloud-based disaster recovery services. Others include IBM with its Business Continuity and Resiliency Services, Barracuda Networks, Double-Take Software, Iron Mountain and QuorumLabs, a small-medium business specialist.

“Cloud-based disaster recovery is very new and adoption is quite low,” Dines said. “But a lot of companies are now interested in the ability to replicate their data to the cloud and then fail over to the cloud in the event of disaster.”

Adoption is still low partly because many firms see it as too new, and therefore too risky, she said. “But I think a lot of companies are overestimating the risk involved in doing disaster recovery in the cloud.”

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