Using these simple but critical building blocks, the IT superheroes in every organization can help defend against mortal humans and cybervillains.

The role of the IT department may often be eclipsed by ‘sexier,’ client-facing departments. However, in today’s rapidly digitalized marketplace, businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on IT to deliver continuously outstanding service.

IT teams are the unsung super heroes, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure applications are running, data is protected, and every department can execute their tasks seamlessly. These heroes often have a strong game plan, involving ways to ensure that their organizations continually place backups at the core of their businesses every day.

Without further ado, here are the four ways the super heroes save every day:

  1. Have a detailed game plan
    Even the Avengers never entered battles blind. Leveraging S.H.I.E.L.D, they would compare their own capabilities with their enemies to identify the weak spots and how to target them.

    The first step in building your recovery plan is mapping out critical areas. What are the critical systems and applications you work with every day, week, and month? Build an inventory of critical systems, servers, and applications and keep it updated. This is where you will find auto-discovery tools immensely helpful.

    Next, configure your backup frequency by setting the service level agreement (SLA), recovery point objective (RPO), and recovery time objective (RTO). These are key to implementing best-fit solutions. For example, if there is a mission-critical business service with an RTO of 10 minutes, you would not rely on tape backups for recovery as it will take longer to restore from tape than recovering from a local copy.
  2. Every member has an important role
    In Avengers: Endgame, the final battle scene clearly illustrated how everybody had a part to play in defeating Thanos. While working in an IT department may not directly compare to stopping world domination, every member plays an important role. It is not enough to know what needs to be backed up—you need to make sure the backup jobs are in place, the backup files are readily available, and the jobs are completing in a time which meets your RPO and RTO requirements.

    Remember to note data volumes as too many backups happening at the same time can flood your network. Also, as data volumes increase, you must adjust your RPO and RTO times accordingly, or consider alternatives to native database backups.
  3. Always be prepared
    Superheroes do not just dawdle around waiting for the next mission.

    Iron Man is continually improving his suit, the Guardians continually patrol the galaxy, and Falcon is always training new members to the team.

    Superheroes never know when the world may need saving next, and businesses do not know when the next system disruption could happen. You must test your recovery process frequently—at least once or twice a year—to verify the recovery process is valid. By testing restores, you also verify your RPO and RTO requirements are being met.
  4. Always be two steps ahead
    Every mission is unpredictable. Sometimes, the good guys get blindsided and lose an important piece of technology, information, or infinity stone, ultimately compromising the whole operation.

    The same can happen for IT, and it is the last thing we want to happen just because we did not do our due diligence. If the data is critical, consider having multiple copies of backups, such as a mix of offsite tape storage and a cloud backup solution.

    A great and simple rule to follow is the 3-2-1-1 rule: three copies of your data, on two different types of media, one of those stored offsite (and offline), and one immutable.

    By storing different formats in different locations, we reduce the risk of data loss greatly. Just take care to ensure you have defined an RPO and RTO for each backup version. Recovering from tape will take longer than recovering locally.

Invaluable building blocks

It takes a well-oiled team to face the evils of cybercriminals and, of course, plain old human error. Identifying things like RPO and RTO is only the first step in building an iron-clad recovery plan. But these processes will prove to be an invaluable building block to an overall business continuity strategy.

Whichever strategy you employ, following these four steps will help to reduce risk and mitigate potentially disastrous outcomes of your next disaster—and there is no better time to save your data than now.