In this article, we’ll define and discuss the importance of business continuity rather than simple backup practices.
We’ll take a quick look into modern solutions, such as cloud computing and image-based backups, and how they can support the data needs of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in South Africa.
We’ll also explain how to quickly evaluate your internal recovery process and downtime costs to ensure you find the right solution to match your business.
Let’s get started.
Downtime is Real and It’s Costly
When disaster strikes, businesses must scramble to retrieve important data.
According to IDG Communications, it takes around 7 hours to resume normal operations after a data loss incident, with 18% of IT managers saying that it takes 11 to 24 hours, or even longer.
Multiply even the average amount of time it takes to recover from a downtime event (5.18 hours) by the average cost of downtime in your business, and you’ve got a large bill to pay by any standard.
Small wonder that 40% of all businesses close their doors permanently after a disaster. Similar statistics from the U.S. Small Business Administration indicate that more than 90% of businesses fail within two years after being struck by a disaster.
Whilst load shedding, one leading cause of business downtime today, is estimated to have cost the South African economy approximately R25 billion over the course of just two weeks in 2021.
The numbers speak for themselves.
What else causes downtime?
Network outages and human error account for 50% and 45% of downtime respectively. Meanwhile, natural disasters account for just 10% of downtime incidents.
When you look at the cause of downtime by data volume, the #1 culprit is, once again, human error, at 58%. As it turns out, businesses should be warier of their own employees and less of natural disasters.
What’s At Stake?
2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated daily. And 90% of the total data in existence was created within the past few years, a significant portion of which has been generated by small businesses. Considering all the servers, desktops, and laptops that typical SMBs manage, it adds up to a lot of data to protect.
Yet nearly 75% of SMBs operate without a disaster recovery plan and only 25% are “extremely confident” that they can restore data if it was compromised. Only 50% of SMBs back up less than 60% of their data. The remaining 40%? No protection for it whatsoever.
How much does this cost? Over the past few years, 35% of SMBs in the USA alone lost as much as $500K due to downtime. An unlucky 3% lost over $1 million.
Data Backup vs Business Continuity: What’s the Difference?
Data backup answers the questions:
Is my data safe? Can I get it back in case of a failure?
Business continuity, on the other hand, involves thinking about the business at a higher level and asks:
How quickly can I get my business operating again in case of system failure?
Thinking about data backup is a good first step. Business continuity is equally important to consider as it ensures your organization is able to get back up and running in a timely manner if disaster strikes.
For example, if your server dies, you wouldn’t be able to quickly get back to work if you only had file-level backup. Your server would need to be replaced, software and data re-installed, and the whole system would need to be configured with your settings and preferences. This process could take days! Can your business afford to lose that time?
Exploring RTO and RPO
When talking about business continuity, we can think in terms of Recovery Time Objective (RTO), and Recovery Point Objective (RPO):
RTO: The Recovery Time Objective is the duration of time within which a business must be restored after a disruption to avoid unacceptable consequences.
RPO: The Recovery Point Objective is the maximum tolerable period of time in which data might be lost due to a disaster.
By calculating your desired RTO, you have determined the maximum time that you can be without your data before your business is at risk. Alternatively, by specifying the RPO, you know how often you need to perform backups.
You may have an RTO of a day and an RPO of an hour depending on what your business requires. But calculating these numbers will help you understand what type of data backup solution you need.
Once you determine your RPO and RTO, it’s time to calculate how much downtime and lost data will financially impact your business. Simply add up the average per hour wage, the per-hour overhead, and the per-hour revenue numbers and you have how much data loss will cost you.
Alternatively, check out this free, easy-to-use online RTO Calculator by Datto for instant RPO, RTO, and downtime costs. (Thereafter, use a currency converter to convert the calculated value into rands).
Learn More About the Costs of Downtime:
Budget constraints can be a challenge for many SMBs. Estimating these downtime costs may provide financial validation to justify the purchase and maintenance of a business continuity solution.
The Two Pillars of Business Continuity: Hybrid Cloud Computing & Image-Based Backups
On-premise or Cloud Computing? Better Protection Lies In-Between
Using on-premise backup storage for business continuity works well for quick restores. Because the data is right there, it’s fast and easy to restore back to its original location and keep the business running.
If the device fails?
Or if it is stolen or destroyed in a natural or man-made disaster?
You might think cloud computing looks more attractive for all these reasons. But cloud-only backup is risky because you can’t control the bandwidth. Restores tend to be difficult and time-consuming. After all, the cloud can fail, too.
The better alternative is the hybrid cloud. With it, your data is first copied and stored on a local device. That way if something happens, you can do a fast and easy restore from that device. But then your data is also replicated in the cloud. So, if anything happens to that device, you’ve got off-site cloud copies of your data— without having to worry about moving copies of your data off-site physically.
Image-Based or File-Based Backup
There are two well-known types of backup solutions: file-based and image-based.
A file-based backup does exactly what it sounds like: you choose which files you want to back up, and those files are saved to an on-premises device or to the cloud, whichever type of solution you have chosen. But only the files you choose are saved.
Image-based backup, on the other hand, captures an image of your data in its environment. Thus, you have exact replications of what is stored on a server— including the operating system, configurations, settings, and preferences. If a server goes down, you can restore it in minutes, rather than the hours or days it would take to requisition a new server and install and configure the operating system.
What to Look for In a Business Continuity Solution
While SMBs may not have the same size IT budget as larger enterprises, the risks facing their business data are the same. To sum up, what we’ve learned today, here are some key things to look for when seeking a business continuity solution:
- Hybrid cloud backup — A hybrid approach fixes the vulnerabilities that a cloud-only or local-only possess.
- Image-based backup — Make sure that the backup solution takes images of all data and systems rather than simply copying the files.
- Superior RTO and RPO — Think in terms of business continuity rather than simply backup, and calculate how much downtime your business can endure and still survive (RTO) as well as how much data you can afford to lose (RPO).
Take the Next Step with iSite Computers
Modern data protection solutions are essential for businesses of all sizes to implement, regardless of size, industry, and geographic location.
But unsure how to start?
iSite Computers is here to help.
Since 2008, we have worked with SMBs in South Africa to maximise productivity, minimize RTO and RPO, and ultimately save our clients time and money through modern business continuity and backup solutions.