Your SaaS Data May Not Be As Safe As You Think

Rachel Dines

DELETE. It's a button we hit every single day. But normally, we are comforted by the fact that if we need to get something back that we accidentally deleted, backup software can save the day. But what happens when you delete data within a SaaS application? In some cases it is as simple as pulling up the virtual trash can and retrieving it. Sometimes, however, its not so simple. While the majority of the enterprise-grade SaaS offerings have robust methodologies for backing up and restoring data to protect against data loss or disaster, they may or may not make this technology available to you as the user. In cases where data is deleted accidentally or maliciously, tied to the account of departing employees, wiped out by rogue applications or lost during a migration, the vendor may or may not work with you to retrieve data from its backups. 

How well do you know your SaaS provider's SLAs for retrieving data? Chances are, this isn't something you've spent much time thinking about. In a recent report, we dug through the backup and restore policies of dozens of SaaS vendors and found the results extremely variable. Some vendors will help restore data, but only for a hefty fee, others will take no part in assisting you with restoring data, and the vast majority, simple don't disclose their policies. Here are excerpts from several SaaS provider's restore policies that we found particularly interesting:

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Disaster Recovery Service Providers Demystified

Rachel Dines

In a world where failure and downtime are no longer an option, resiliency is an increasingly critical priority. In fact, it was the no. 3 overall infrastructure priority moving into 2014. But how do we become more resilient organizations? Many companies feel that they do not have the required in-house expertise to run their entire DR programs--in fact, according to our latest Forrester/DRJ study, 42% of companies use some sort of outsourced DR service.

But how do you select a DR service provider partner? Forrester undertook this task with an update of our Traditional Disaster Recovery Service Provider Wave, and our first ever Disaster Recovery-As-A-Service Provider Wave evaluations. Vendors evaluated in this report represent today's top DR service providers vendors -- Axcient; Barracuda Networks; CenturyLink Technology Solutions; CSC; EVault; HP; IBM; iland; nScaled; Persistent Systems; Phoenix; Quorum; Recovery Point Systems; SunGard; and Verizon Terremark. What we found was a tight race, and a DRaaS market in which:

  • iland and SunGard lead the pack. Two vendors stand apart in this evaluation: iland and SunGard both excel in their current offering and their strategies. Both offer very flexible solutions that cover the entire resiliency spectrum and allow users to pick from an array of standardized offerings to ensure that their needs are met.
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Quantifying The Impact Of Downtime: What We Can Learn From Recent New York Times, Google, And Amazon Outages

Rachel Dines

Last week there were several of outages that got me thinking more about the cost of downtime. I get this question a lot: what is the industry average cost of downtime? I hate answering "it depends," but that's the truth. So much depends on the organization, the industry, the duration of the downtime, the number of people impacted, etc. And not all of it is about dollars and sense. Reputation, customer retention, employee satisfaction, and overall confidence can be shaken by even a short outage. Take, for example, the New York Times' mysterious outage on August 14, 2013, of around two hours. While two hours might not seem like much, in the middle of a news-heavy weekday, it made a lasting impression. The stock dropped, twitter exploded, and the Wall Street Journal dropped their paywall to try and capture readers. In this case, I argue the biggest impact of downtime was not the drop in stock price, but the loss of confidence and loss of competitive advantage.

Here is a very different example: Google experienced between one and five minutes of downtime (amazing that this is news, but it is), on August 17. While this outage reportedly cost the company upwards of $500,000 (making their hourly cost of downtime astronomical), but as a result, internet traffic overall dropped by 40%. Their biggest impact was on customers and strategic partner over the long term.

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What APAC Infrastructure & Operations professionals should learn from recent natural disasters

Sudhanshu Bhandari

The recent flooding in Uttarakhand, India reminded me of last November 2012, when I was in Boston during hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the US East Coast. There’s a lot of similarity I can draw between New York and Mumbai - both have a large number of key data centers in close proximity to business centers, both are quite vulnerable to floods, and both have a history of terrorist attacks.

Regardless of continent and country, the number of natural disasters is increasing. As stated by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Head for Asia Pacific, extreme weather events are likely to become both more frequent and severe in the future. Asia Pacific (AP) in particular is the world's most disaster prone area. Apart from Uttarakhand there have been a number of natural disasters in the last decade, including the Tsunami and Earthquakes in Japan, Floods in Thailand, and the Mumbai Floods in 2005. Floods are the most common natural disaster, followed by extreme storms and earthquakes. In the case of hurricane Sandy, dozens of data centers in the New York City metropolitan area were impacted.

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Backup Data Growth Is Out Of Control, Make Sure You Have The Right Tool To Manage It!

Rachel Dines

Have you heard the big news? Data is growing at an insane pace. Ok ok, this isn't really news, I hear this almost every day. But what many people don't realize is that one of the guiltiest culprits behind data growth is actually backup data. Between 2010 and 2012, the average enterprise server backup data store grew by 42%, while file storage (which is often the scapegoat of data growth) grew by 28%. And with more and more mobile workers, it's no surprise that PC backup storage is also growing at an explosive rate, almost 100% over the past two years.

Backup data growth being what it is, it's no surprise that a lot of people are re-evaluating their enterprise backup software. That's why I recently embarked on Forrester's first Wave on Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software. As part of that report, I developed a list of key criteria that are necessary to evaluate your backup and recovery software. At a high level, here is what I came up with:

Product offering:

  • Data reduction capabilities and scalability. What data reduction techniques does the product support, and how well do these techniques scale?
  • Backup targets. What targets and backup methods does the solution support?
  • Advanced backup options. What advanced backup options does the solution support?
  • Encryption. What are the native backup encryption and encryption key management capabilities? What encryption solutions does the product integrate with?
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The Era Of Now And The Age Of The Customer — Why Resiliency Is More Critical Than Ever

Rachel Dines

We live in the era of NOW. If a website takes too long to load, or doesn't load at all, we will move on in a matter of milliseconds. If an ATM can't dispense cash — unacceptable. Our favorite online store is unavailable — unheard of. Not only have our expectations risen to astronomical heights, but our increasing dependence on technology means we can't cope without it. If our electronic medical records are unavailable — lives are at stake. If the utility's critical IT systems go down — millions are left without power.

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If The End Of The World Is Coming, Are You Prepared?

Rachel Dines

The world may or may not be ending on December 21, 2012. I'm not an expert on the ancient Maya (although I've climbed many Mayan pyramids and have long been fascinated by their history, see proof below), but I've heard a rumor that this week marks the end of the Long Count calendar, meaning a new era begins on Friday, December 21, 2012, bringing a new civilization. Also, potentially a planet called Niburu might crash into the earth (although NASA has confirmed they have seen no evidence of this).

So, what's your plan? Will it be a space ark? A time machine (i.e., a TARDIS)? Wormhole (a la Fringe)? Should you consider sending your data to Mars? How do you even prepare for the unknown, the black swan events that are highly improbably, but highly disruptive?

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A Week After Hurricane Sandy: How Did Our Business Technology Resiliency Plans Fare?

Rachel Dines

A little more than a week after Hurricane Sandy barreled through the Eastern seaboard, I wanted to take a moment and share some of my thoughts on business technology resiliency* and how we fared during this significant weather event. While there are still over a million people without electricity and significant recovery efforts underway, I'm overall impressed with the level of resiliency and preparedness many organizations exhibited during (and since) Sandy. I stress resiliency over recovery here because I believe that is the future of disaster recovery and business continuity. Our official definition is: “The ability for business technology to absorb

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If You Never Anticipated An Event Like Hurricane Sandy, What Do You Do Now?

Stephanie Balaouras

On Monday, Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast of the United States, flooding entire towns in New York and New Jersey, triggering large-scale power outages and killing at least 17 people. The health and safety of individuals is the first and foremost priority, followed by the recovery of critical infrastructure services (power, water, hospital services, transportation etc.). As these services begin to recover, many business and IT leaders are wondering how they will resume normal operations to ensure the long-term financial viability of the company and the livelihoods of their employees and how they will serve their loyal customers.

Most likely, if you have offices that lie in the path of Hurricane Sandy, you are experiencing some sort of business disruption, large or small. The largest enterprises, especially those in financial services, spend an enormous amount of money on business, workforce and IT resiliency strategies. Many of them shifted both business and IT workloads to other corporate locations in advance of the storm, proactively closed offices and directed employees to work from home or a designated alternate site.

If you are small and medium enterprise and, like many of your peers, you didn’t have an alternate workforce site, robust work-from-home employee capabilities, an automated notification system or a recovery data center, what do you do now? While it’s too late to implement many measures to improve resiliency, there are several things you can do now to help your organization return to normal operations ASAP. Here are Forrester’s top recommendations for senior business technology leaders:

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Musings During A Hurricane: Why We Still Need Workforce Continuity Plans In A Mobile World

Rachel Dines

I'm having a frustrating day. It's only partly because there is a hurricane raging outside and I'm cooped up inside with a hyperactive dog. The main source of my frustration is my inability to communicate with the outside world. Yes, I still have power, and the Internet, but unfortunately, with cell networks overloaded, no landline (hello, this is 2012), and VPN failing, I can't seem to talk to anyone. At least comprehensibly. Of course, since I'm a resilient and resourceful employee, I've tried everything from GoogleTalk to Skype to our internal VOIP systems all with no success. Who would have thought in this modern era of the anytime, anywhere worker, that I would be rendered mute?

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