backup and recovery

Backup and Recovery Is Critical To Your Company’s Success

Downtime Is Damaging To Any Business

When your systems go down, your prospective clients can’t view your website. But downtime is more than simply a website that potential clients can’t see. That’s business that you are missing out on, and trust that you are losing. If your business develops a reputation for downtime and unreliability, your current clients and prospective business will take their dollars to a competitor. When your systems are down, you can’t provide the products and services that your clients rely on, and losing that trust can be difficult to overcome. That’s why the best businesses avoid downtime at any cost. You shouldn’t let downtime stop you from growing your business—with the right backup and recovery services, you can keep your clients satisfied and avoid downtime, damaged systems, and lost files.

Data Backup and Recovery Keeps Your Company Protected

Downtime doesn’t come on a predictable schedule. Your systems can go down after a disaster such as a flood or a storm. Or it can come when a hacker attempts to get into your systems. There are a variety of scenarios that can damage your systems or take you off-line, so you need to be prepared. Keeping your systems protected means using backup and recovery services that fit your company’s needs. Backup and recovery isn’t a monolith service—there are a plethora of different solutions that you can utilize. You can have a physical on-site backup, or you can have a physical backup off-site. You can also backup your systems in the cloud, or through virtual servers. And you aren’t limited to choosing a single solution either. You can backup your systems through the cloud as well as have a physical backup on-site.

Finding The Right Backup Solution

Every company needs to have functional backup and recovery services. But the chosen backup solution might be different for each company. You should determine your company’s needs—such as how much data you need to back up, and how much you are willing to pay for the service—before you determine which backup solution you want to choose. You can scale your backup solution upwards as your company grows, so if you start out with a small backup and recovery package, you can upgrade it as your needs expand. You can always rely on the IT experts at i.t.NOW to help your business find the right backup solution for your needs. If you are interested in backing up your company’s data, give our team a call today! We’d be happy to get to work on keeping your systems protected and helping you avoid downtime.

Modern Data Standards: HIPAA

HIPAA Employee BenefitsYou’re probably not directly familiar with HIPAA unless you work in the health industry or an industry that has to interact with it. So, why should you care? The simple answer is that these are the laws and standards that govern personal information about our individual health. HIPAA is an acronym for: The Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Among many things, it sets forth guidelines for how health data is to be stored, transferred, and processed between different organizations that require that information. Read more

Modern Data Standards: SAS 70

compliance on digital tabletIn this day and age every industry has different standards that they need to meet. However, there are some standardization systems that transcend industries. This is especially true in our industry of IT service and data storage. We often deal with many different companies in many different industries. We are responsible for data that ranges from company records, to customer profiles. Read more

Common IT Mistakes in the Workplace

Technology advances quickly and with it our reliance on the newest and fastest. Too often we get comfortable with the technology we use and don’t safeguard against possible crises. In the workplace, there are many employees using the system and each one adds a risk to IT security. Any data loss or malware in the system cost the company a lot of money and time. Here are some common risks to watch out for:

Not backing up your OS and data: Big mistake. If there is any kind of crash, natural disaster, malware invasion, etc. you have lost everything. A backup is the first thing a company should take care of in the IT department. You need a backup that continually updates. You can keep one onsite, but also have one in a place that won’t be affected if your company is broken into or destroyed by a natural disaster.

Failure to update the OS and anti-virus software: Malware is constantly finding new ways to get through loopholes and chinks in your system. Updates to your operating system and antiviruses protect your computers from the latest threats.

Unprotected smart phones and/or tablets: Every employee should have a secure operating system and password on their device. With all the sensitive information that can be stored on your phones or tablets, they are a target for hacking.

Insufficient Tech Support: Many smaller businesses keep one IT employee on hand to take care of needs as they come up. This creates an indispensable IT staff. You can’t risk having indispensable staff. If he or she leaves, so does all the knowledge about how your system works and how to take care of special tasks. Take advantage of outside resources to take care of tasks that maybe are not suited for your internal resources.

Multiple employees using one account: When each employee does not have his own account, you can’t keep an accurate log of who has made what changes. If a problem arises as a result of a change an employee made, you need to be able to see in your system’s activity log exactly which user did it so you can give additional training or administer consequences. And in the same vein, make sure employees know the importance of not using a computer on someone else’s account.

Failure to test IT security policies: You need to know for sure that your backup and security plans will work when they are needed. Don’t wait for a disaster to discover any problems. Check out your programs and fix any flaws.

It’s not always an outside source that poses danger, but within the company as well. If your security is not up to date, an employee may accidentally or purposely sabotage your network. Don’t let your business be jeopardized by a common blunder. With all the resources you have invested into your business, you’ll want to keep it well protected.

Data Backup and Recovery Solutions from i.t.NOW

In 2011, Bluffdale City was looking for a way to consolidate and upgrade its data backup and recovery needs. To do so, Bluffdale representatives searched for a company that provided a comprehensive and time-tested data backup and recovery solution.

Enter i.t.NOW.

i.t.NOW is a Utah-based provider of I.T. solutions including data backup and recovery, cloud computing, desktop virtualization and more.  The company’s i.t.BDR offering gives organizations the ability to effectively and frequently back up vital company data (as often as every 15 minutes) in secure off-site storage areas, and recover that data when needed.  Whether a company experiences an earthquake, fire or some other type of disaster, i.t.NOW can get it back up and running with little to no down time.

As fate would have it, Bluffdale’s city offices experienced an event that essentially destroyed their in-house data and computer systems: a lighting strike! Luckily, i.t.NOW was ready for the challenge.

First, with its frequent data backups and constant system monitoring, i.t.NOW immediately detected the power surge from the strike. The event destroyed Bluffdale City’s backup power supply and its servers wouldn’t restart. To fix this problem, i.t.NOW implemented an off-site server. And because i.t.NOW’s data backups run as often as every 15 minutes, it was able to restore Bluffdale City to its most recent backup.

In fact, i.t.NOW had the city back up and running in less than 30 minutes!

Second, i.t.NOW ran the city’s entire data center and computing needs for two days while a replacement power supply was ordered—all on i.t.BDR software from i.t.NOW.  Once the new power supply arrived, i.t.NOW transitioned Bluffdale back to its old network after hours.

To learn more about i.t.NOW and its comprehensive I.T. services, contact us or call (801) 562-8778.

Bulletproof Your Data with a Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution

i.t.Now offers a state of the art data Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) solution that “bullet proofs” your data.

Service Highlights:

  • A complete solution that is designed to reduce any server down time with the use of a specialized back up and virtual server appliance.
  • Allows near real-time backups – as frequent as every 15 minutes.
  • Offers offsite storage at an affordable cost
  • Provides a low cost, speedy disaster recovery process.
  • Data is encrypted so it is not accessible to anyone without the passkey, either on the NAS or at the remote storage facility.
  • Eliminates the cost and time of managing on-site tape backup. We monitor and manage the entire process.
  • All costs are bundled at a price that is comparable to the overall cost of buying and managing tape backup. This includes frequent on site backups, on site virtual server, remote storage, disaster recovery in the event of disaster, and 24×7 management of the entire process.

Executive Summary
A recent study discovered that, of companies experiencing a “major loss” of computer records, 43% never reopened, 51% closed within two years of the loss, and a mere 6% survived over the long term. For small and medium-sized businesses in particular, these statistics suggest the necessity of crafting a Business Continuity Planning (BCP) strategy grounded in a robust data backup and recovery solution.

Unlike large enterprises, many smaller companies cannot afford optimal in-house strategies and solutions in service of BCP. These companies are consequently at an elevated risk of being put out of business due to any major loss of data. Loss of data could mean emails lost, accounting data lost, patient or client files lost, company records lost, client legal records or orders lost and so on. This white paper evaluates the scope of BCP for smaller companies, by examining their challenges, range of existing solutions and their drawbacks. We’ll also discuss how our solution overcomes commonly faced challenges to offer the most comprehensive solution out in the marketplace.

Business Continuity Planning for Small and Medium Size Businesses
BCP is the blueprint for how businesses plan to survive everything from local equipment failure to global disaster. Data-oriented BCP, an indispensable component of business planning regardless of organization size, poses the following challenges. Smaller businesses generally lack the in-house IT resources to achieve these demanding planning, technical and process requirements. Therefore, many SMBs either neglect to implement any data-oriented business continuity plan or else approach data backup and recovery in a sporadic, rudimentary fashion that fails to conform to the best practices of BCP.

Risks of not having a plan in place:

  • Understanding regulatory compliance requirements in your industry. Regulations such as the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and other laws, both state and federal.
  • Understanding how to mitigate the risk of losing vital business data, such as customer records.
  • Being aware of the environmental hazards that the business infrastructure is exposed to due to your geographical location.
  • Estimating time it would take to build the business back if disaster strikes without having any BCP in place.
  • Understanding ROI for having a BCP in place.

Technical Challenges:

  • Identify the lowest-cost, highest-performance data backup medium (tape or disk) based solution and keeping abreast with the latest and greatest in the industry.
  • Ensure that all backed-up data is encrypted and otherwise safeguarded from theft. o Ensure that backed-up data can be restored to different kinds of hardware.
  • Ensure that data backup continues even during active recovery phases.

Operational Challenges:

  • Identifying what data to back up.
  • Identifying how frequently to back up and related costs and ROI.
  • Retain the ability to recover not only the most recent data, but also data from oldertime horizons, such as past quarters and years.
  • Retain the ability to monitor and manage the integrity of ongoing data backupprocesses so that backup failures can be diagnosed and remedied before adversely impacting the BCP lifecycle.
  • The need to hire staff who can understand, design, implement and keep a BCP running 24/7 and be available to get business back in action after disaster strikes.

Traditional Solution vs. Emerging Technology
Implementing a data-oriented BCP strategy first requires designation of a specific data storage medium. Magnetic tape and disks are the two leading media for data backup storage. While magnetic tape is currently dominant, analyst Dave Russell of Gartner believes that:

“Recovery will move to online disk-based storage in the future. This will cause a major shift in the backup market during the next four to five years.”

Smaller companies in particular will benefit from the shift, as recent advances in design and manufacturing lower the total cost of disk-based storage in terms of storage per bit. Falling prices, combined with the various performance advantages that storage industry analysts cite, render disk increasingly attractive. Gartner Group highlights the suitability of disk for these organizations by explaining that:

“The need for high-performance online recovery of data, combined with the availability of low-cost disk arrays, has influenced enterprises and small and midsize businesses to adopt a disk-based approach for backup and recovery.”

Tape, in contrast to disk, is physically delicate and easily compromised by environmental factors such as heat, humidity, and magnetic interference. Moreover, tape cartridges must be replaced frequently (every 6-12 months). Tape’s innate sensitivity contributes to high failure rates, with analysts estimating that anywhere from 42 to 71 percent of tape restores fail. Even when magnetic tape backups are successful, tapes themselves are subject to loss or theft, and may be in the possession of an employee or vendor unable to reach a recovery site. Thus, even when physical backup and restoration processes succeed, tape may not prove to be as timely and appropriate a medium for data storage as disk. Time is a crucial consideration because each hour of server, application, and network downtime endured until data restoration comes at a high cost, especially to smaller businesses.

Analyst Jon Oltsik of Enterprise Strategy Group also points out that tape is seldom encrypted, compounding the destructive impact of tape theft: “Very few people encrypt backup tapes, which means that they rely on the security of the backup and off-site rotation process.” (source: Internetnews.com)

Disk offers not only lower cost encryption but also other advantages. In contrast to tape, “disks are more durable, last longer, withstand more overwriting and you don’t need to clean any heads,” according to Rinku Tyagi of PCQuest. He also pointed out, “When it comes to backing up using disks, they are easier to manage. Disk backup systems include management tools, often browser-based, for you to easily configure settings and check status from anywhere.”

HP enumerates other advantages of disk storage, noting that:

“Data is backed up to disk much faster than tape, which translates to less impact on production server availability. Disk is also a more reliable media than tape and less prone to error, which translates to less failed recoveries.”

While disk offers advantages over tape, it is not a panacea. After installing disk technology, Companies will still be responsible for monitoring and managing backup processes, encrypting and safeguarding backed up onsite and offsite data, restoring data to new hardware, and other functions. Without implementing a layer of governance over disk-based data backup, these Companies court the danger of failed backups and delayed restoration of data, thereby jeopardizing their chances of successful recovery from major data loss.

Smaller Companies unable or unwilling to invest in the human expertise and infrastructure support systems necessary for data-oriented BCP can leverage our data backup and recovery solution, which removes cost and complexity burdens from your staff.

A Complete Solution that addresses all of your BCP Needs

Near Real-Time Backups: Our “Incremental Forever” methodology captures all changes to the initial image in increments of 15 minutes. The Incremental Forever technology not only backs up recent datasets but also allows end users to reconstruct the state of their data as it stood at the end of various 15-minute restoration points. This level of forensic and auditable data recovery may satisfy various regulatory requirements (such as HIPAA and GLBA) for data retention and data record reconstruction, and also serves stakeholders such as supply chain planners, warehouse analysts, auditors, and legal counsel.

On-site Virtual Server: If any of your servers fail, our server virtualization technology embedded in the Network Attached Storage (NAS) allows customer servers and applications to be restored and rebooted in minutes. As you may sometimes endure a wait of several days in order to receive replacement servers from vendors, your NAS can have your business up and running. The NAS multitasks so that, even while functioning as a virtual server, it can continue to back up data from other devices plugged into the NAS. Our technology thus allows you to remain in business without any significant loss of data backup, server functionality, or application downtime.

A Complete Image: We generate an image of all hard drive partitions via an agent, which is warehoused on the NAS device physically located at your location. The data is stored using AES- 256 bit encryption and compressed. We employ a block-level, not file-level, backup, which means that data is captured at the level of 1’s and 0’s. Block level data is raw data which does not have a file structure imposed on it. Database applications such as Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange Server transfer data in blocks. Block transfer is the most efficient way to write to disk and is much less prone to errors such as those that result from file-level backups. Additionally, block level backups are not affected by open files or open databases. The block- level image is an exact digital duplicate of the on-site server

Intuitive and Flexible Restoration: A good backup system should allow for quick and flexible restores. Our solution allows for recovery of files, folders, partitions, mailboxes/messages, databases/tables using a quick and intuitive process. In case of a complete server failure we do support a bare metal restore to new hardware which has a different configuration, hardware and drivers as compared to the failed server. Our 15-minute incremental based backup allows restores to be done from any point in time, allowing for multiple versions of files, folders, messages/mailboxes, database/tables to be restored.

Secure Remote Storage: After imaging the servers to which it is attached, the NAS device then creates an independent 256-bit encrypted tunnel and transmits the imaged data to a secure offsite location where it resides in an encrypted, compressed format. That remote site then replicates again to an alternate data center, creating a total of three copies of the data in three geographically distinct regions. Since the data is encrypted and only you have the key, no one has access at any of the remote storage facilities.

Transmitting data to a remote site is a key component of BCP. It guarantees that, in case of physical damage to the client’s network or NAS, or even regional disaster, the data is safe in uncompromised locations. Encryption is an important step in the process of transmitting data between the NAS and the remote sites, because it greatly reduces the risk of data loss incidents that plague magnetic tape and prevents man-in-the-middle attacks during transmission. We employ the 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm because it has never been broken and is currently considered the gold standard of encryption techniques and render transmitted data immune to theft.

Secure, Bandwidth Throttling Transfer: Transmission itself occurs over your Internet connection, and can easily be configured to minimize bandwidth consumption. Our NAS leverages Adaptive Bandwidth Throttling, which only utilizes unused bandwidth or allows us to set an outbound limit. Our UDP based smart transfer technology utilizes a host of innovative algorithms to speed up data transport and resume from failure. We can therefore exercise fine control over the data imaging and transmission processes.

24×7 Completely Managed Solution: A 500-person Network Operations Center (NOC) monitors your NAS units and the attached servers 24/7. Failed processes generate immediate alerts to our engineers, who often remotely correct errors within minutes of receiving notification. In case of more serious NAS issues, we will conduct repairs at your site. If any NAS units are irreparably damaged or destroyed, at an additional cost we will overnight ship replacements— pre-loaded with all stored data—directly to your location.

Affordable Cost: We offer a pricing packaged that is all inclusive of the complete backup and disaster recovery service-with no hidden costs. All your costs are bundled and include the NAS, the Incremental Forever Methodology, file restorations, file integrity checks, secure data transmission and remote storage.