Organizations are constantly looking for ways to reduce cost and improve their data center efficiencies. With the advent of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and on-demand cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, new virtualization strategies have emerged. We need to realize our clients are recognizing the cloud as a new option in their budget battles. Whether it’s leveraging the cloud for their test/dev environments, storage requirements or even production workloads; our clients are looking to use cloud-based technologies. For firms that are taking their initial steps into the cloud world, backup processes appear to be an easy target, and migrating away from their traditional tape backup solutions can help drive efficiencies and cost savings.

Now, you may be thinking, backup is not disaster recovery and you’re right. To help set the table, let’s take a quick look at each.

What Is Backup?

In short, backup is copying your files to another disk. This can be through a tape backup, a secondary computer, or a cloud hosted backup solution. It is important to have a backup solution in place. Backup protects your data in case of theft (anyone familiar with ransomware?), employee accidents (deletion of an important file), or a technical issue (crashed hard drive). With this protection, you can access a copy of your data and restore it easily.

Unfortunately, many companies think these methods will protect them if there’s an outage or a disaster. The unfortunate reality is that while backup is generally inexpensive and convenient, it doesn’t ensure quick recovery when a disaster occurs; it only ensures that the data is stored somewhere and can be accessed – eventually.

What Is Disaster Recovery?

Disaster recovery is similar to backup, but is used for larger instances. A complete image of your disk drives and servers are mirrored. The image allows you to restore the system quicker than reinstalling an OS and copying files.

Don’t get caught up on the term “disaster” and believe it has to be major incident. A disaster can be your entire network crashes and your employees can no longer work for the day (or longer). With a disaster recovery plan, your employees can continue to work by using the mirrored system. With your employees set to get back to work, your IT team works on fixing the problem with the primary infrastructure.

Clearly, there is a difference between the two technologies. So, how can you use a backup discussion to pivot toward a broader disaster recovery discussion? Here are a couple of quick questions to ask:

1. What is the goal of backing up to the cloud?

Many customers may mention the burden or inefficiencies of using their current tape backup processes. Others may tout the need to have a copy offsite as an additional layer of protection. Regardless of the answer, the goal is to be able to retrieve data from a remote location (the cloud) in the event they lose a server or drive.

This should lead to the next question:

2. What happens if your entire data center is offline for an extended period of time due to fire or natural disaster?

The customer may mention they have a disaster recovery facility in place and points scored for your customer. I expect most of our larger clients to fall into this space. What about our medium and small business clients? They may not have a response (opportunity). Many mention they cannot afford a disaster recovery solution (opportunity). Of course, you could get the worse answer of all; we will just go out of business (yes, opportunity here as well). In the back of the customer’s mind, they know they should have a solution in place.

We are almost home now. One last question to consider:

3. If CDW could develop a solution to link your cloud-based backup solution to a cost effective disaster recovery solution, would you be interested?

From my personal experience, when I get to this point in the conversation, 90 percent of the time, a contact is willing to listen.

My intent here is to stimulate the disaster recovery discussion – and a very detailed one at that. For smaller organizations and firms lacking a sophisticated IT department, I have found the above line of questioning is very intriguing.

For the more info on utilizing the cloud, check out BizTech Magazine for the latest and greatest. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the CDW Solutions Blog monthly e-newsletter to stay on the cutting edge of tech.

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