7 minute read time

How Capable is Your Backup Solution?

by in Information Management & Governance

 Technology, applications, software tools, and storage solutions are constantly evolving. To take advantage of this evolution there are regular updates made to the applications and tools which improve their efficiency, capabilities, and performance. Unfortunately, security threats also continue to increase and are being adapted to find new ways to attack company data. (Read also "Business leaders need to plan against cascading risks")

All of this requires IT to even more frequently apply updates to the tools and applications that will protect the business applications and the company IT environment. By taking advantage of the latest features and security, IT operations should be able to continue with increased efficiency and functionality.

The focus on upgrades is usually on protecting the production environment and ensuring that everything can continue to run smoothly and efficiently, but with the rise and increased sophistication of ransomware and other cyber-attacks there needs to be consideration for whole environment protection. The objective of cyber-attackers is to cause disruption and the ability to stop business operation to extract large payments from the companies attacked. As ransomware attacks have increased the understanding of the role and importance of backups has also increased, moving backup solutions from a lower priority IT operation to one that has high prominence and a key tool to ensure business continuity. See also No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy”.

The article will have a quick look at the concerns about not upgrading, and the additional benefits available for those that upgrade regularly.

Backup Security and Ransomware

 Data backup and protection had never been at the forefront of any IT discussions, but it is getting more prominence now with the rise of ransomware. If you are not updating your backup software regularly then you are leaving your company vulnerable. Data and system backup is now recognized as the last line of defense against ransomware attacks. Despite the best efforts to stop intruders getting to company data, breaches are almost certain to happen eventually. The only course of action that can then be taken is to look at restoring the company operation by recovering the data and system status from backups. Once a backup is placed in an offline store it is ensured to be safe from any further attacks. Read analyst paper

The first consideration should be to ensure the security of the backup data itself so that it cannot be compromised by any attacks. There are multiple aspects to ensuring backup data security starting with where the backup is going to be placed. One key recommendation is to ensure there is an off-line backup copy somewhere, and the most secure version of this is to use tape backup. While tape is an old technology it is one of the most secure and is increasing in use. The latest tape backup technology will allow for the large size of today’s data backups and provide a level of performance that is necessary to complete backups in as short a time as possible.

Tape backup may not always be the most convenient or quickest, so alternative backup storage can be on traditional disk infrastructure or virtual disk storage, or possibly in cloud storage. Cloud storage has matured greatly and can be considered a good backup option but does still have vulnerabilities. Cloud storage is still connected, meaning access could be compromised and other security measures should be employed. The extra levels of security generally apply to both storage infrastructure and cloud. Added security includes:

  • Encryption - both in-flight and static
  • Secure protocols - such as TLS1.2
  • Port consolidation – ensuring few network ports are used for better control and security
  • Centralized command and control – to restrict access and validate all backup commands and operations
  • Immutability – Is a key capability for online backups to prevent data being altered or deleted
  • Security modules, agents and add-ins – Latest versions of KeyCloak, WildFly and others
  • Role Based Access Control – restricts the level of access different users have

Does your backup software support all these security functions, or specifically, does your implemented version of your backup software deliver all this functionality? It is important to look at what the backup software you are running can do, and whether you have deployed a version that supports the most recent implementation of each function to deliver maximum protection for your data.

Backup Performance

Once there is a high confidence that the right level of security is available, the overall performance of the backup solution should be looked at. Data volume continues to grow, backup windows continue to shrink, and the type and cost of storage continues to evolve. Newer technologies, capabilities and functionality allow backups to operate most effectively and complete backups to schedule and meeting SLAs for RPO and RTO.  Some questions to ask about your deployed version of software:

  • Does your software support the latest storage infrastructure and is it integrated and certified to ensure maximum backup and restore speed?
  • What range of cloud storage providers is supported to allow greatest flexibility in backup to fit into your IT environment?
  • Is your version of backup software capable of performing multi-threaded backup operations to increase throughput for backup or restore?
  • Can backup operations be optimized using built-in deduplication that scales with your storage needs while reducing network bandwidth and requires less backup storage capacity?
  • Is Block-Based-Backup available to further improve backup speed and storage reduction?

The version of software deployed is important as many of these capabilities are more recent and continue to be developed. The more recent version utilized the greater the advantages and built-in functionality. Older versions of software likely do not support these capabilities or have limited implementations available.

Application and Storage Integrations

Although already touched on, having the right level of integration and support with the applications protected and storage platforms used can provide a lot of advantages regarding security, performance, and capability that may not necessarily already be in the backup software. Some storage platforms have encryption or immutability functionality that can be used, while others may have more performance-oriented capabilities such as deduplication.

Application integrations tend to enhance the performance functionality of backup and restore operations. The deeper the level of integration the better the backup will be for capturing the data as well as the system state. This ensures that restores can be done at the application consistent level, rather than crash consistent, for a faster restore to the usable configuration and state of the critical application software. As the applications are upgraded within the IT environment there are also new functionality or operational aspects of the application that should be supported or can be taken advantage of for backup.

Does your backup software version integrate with the key business applications being used and is it keeping up with the newest versions of the application software? Watch also video

Not just new versions should be considered, but as your company’s application use evolves to newer or different technologies, has your backup software also evolved, and has it been updated to continue that data protection? One prime example of this is the move towards cloud, or online based applications. One of the most adopted of which is Microsoft’s main suite of products, with SharePoint, Exchange transitioning to Microsoft 365 Online applications with SharePoint, Exchange, Teams, and OneDrive for Business. Could your backup software lack of support prevent the company from evolving its application use, or will it leave the company vulnerable if no protection is available?

Overall, there are many reasons to ensure the backup software deployed is using the latest version available. The advantages range from improved security, enhanced performance, and more complete capabilities and range of support options.                      

Micro Focus has two data protection offerings to meet all your backup needs: Data Protector Premium supports hybrid and more traditional infrastructure environments and has many built in advanced capabilities. For more modern workloads Data Protector for Cloud Workloads offers extensive backup functionality for Microsoft 365 Online products, as well as extensive hypervisor and container backup, and support for a wide range of cloud storage targets. Data Protector saves IT administrators’ time and ensures business continuity by providing a disaster recovery process that is built for modern enterprise IT environments.

In addition to offering backup support for the Microsoft 365 online products including Exchange, SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive for Business, it provides backup support for containers and a wide range of hypervisors. An extensive list of cloud storage providers are selectable as backup targets.

Want to find out the capabilities for yourself? Access your free trial of Data Protector for Cloud Workloads


Learn more about backup and disaster recovery on our site.

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The Micro Focus IM&G team

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