Recently, cloud experts from Netfoundry and N2WS addressed quick fixes enterprises can implement now to handle spikes in demand and other immediate issues as a result of remote continuity business procedures.
Our cloud-native existence is being stress tested as workers in many industries are faced with the challenge of working from home. We’ll review how to adapt as enterprises, both large and small, face more and more vulnerabilities.
The unexpected wrecking ball that hit with COVID-19
Many compared the global pandemic that hit in early 2020 as an unexpected, digital transformation wrecking ball of sorts. Companies that had not previously thought about how to leverage cloud resources, platforms, infrastructure and software are now having a tough time pivoting to the new reality of their workers being scattered and less accessible.
As borderless teams transcended cities, states and very often continents, they had to adapt their communication demands, but they also found that more and more sensitive data was moving outside the confines of the office and across devices. In addition, manual disaster recovery procedures in place that were reliant on in-office employees were now at risk of being inaccessible. Further, if there was an accidental loss of data, remote employees didn’t have adequate backup and recovery options, a huge risk a company is willing to take if something goes wrong.
As fear of questionable security arose, these companies had to quickly implement new and sudden business continuity requirements and many didn’t, and still don’t know where to start.
Remote workforce and business continuity trends emerge
Mercer recently reported that 25% of companies are developing their very first business continuity plan as a response to COVID-19 while 92% of companies are currently planning work from home scenarios. This just shows that this is the new reality that all of us must adjust to.
If your team feels unprepared, you are certainly in good company. Many were completely blindsided by the effects of COVID-19. The silver lining however, is that this will hopefully force companies to finally start checking off their list of problems to address. Now, we can reassess our current Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans and structures so we can better handle inevitable future disasters.
Surge in cloud compute and storage amid COVID-19
When the crisis hit, all public cloud providers struggled with a new and increased demand for servers. COVID-19 had pushed many more users to rely on digital tools (i.e. video conferencing, online shopping, remote learning, cloud backup) and this led to a surge in demand for data center capacity. Cloud service providers typically do retain reserves for spikes in usage for events like Black Friday, however because this sudden increase in usage skyrocketed within a number of weeks, instead of years (!) as initially predicted, it had consequences. The cloud stress sometimes led to very slow or even unavailable servers.
Some analysts have predicted that the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the move to cloud computing permanently. Is this spike in usage the new normal? This is something companies need to consider when they are planning their Disaster Recovery procedures. Downtime may occur more frequently as everyone wants compute and storage resources simultaneously.
3 Current Disaster Recovery Challenges with a remote workforce
The first step in developing a Disaster Recovery plan is to assess what the main challenges are and how to mitigate them.
1. Ensuring fast, automated recovery
As teams work remotely, there is much more room for error as companies can no longer rely on a single employee responsible for recovery procedures. No one wants to be that one person pushing buttons and frantically scripting in the middle of the night when a device is lost, a bug causes an issue or an outage occurs. In addition the more you do manually, the more things can go wrong. Companies need to ensure the minimal steps are in place for ideally a single-click failover solution for your mission critical data.
2. Prioritizing Disaster Recovery drills
As team cohesiveness dissolves, disaster recovery drills must be created and implemented ASAP and then tested regularly. It’s essential to perform drills on a regular basis in order to reveal gaps and problems with your plan that you may have not considered.
3. Defining roles for optimal security
Now that everything is remote, companies can no longer see their employees and therefore verify their identities. As multiple team members have access to Disaster Recovery procedures, roles must be defined, multiple users must be managed and logs must be transparent. It is no longer an option to not have clearly defined roles and not know who has access to vital resources and backups.
12 Ways to use N2WS Backup & Recovery with changing Disaster Recovery requirements for a remote workforce
Here are 12 quick fixes you can implement today in order to minimize disaster recovery and security challenges and fully protect your AWS data, workloads and applications.
- Cross-region AWS Disaster Recovery Plan – If there is an outage in one of the many AWS regions, you will certainly want a fall-back. With a remote workforce, there is a greater need for multiple sites to keep resources in multiple regions.
- Cross-account Disaster Recovery – With a remote workforce, human error becomes more of an issue. In addition, spikes in malicious account takeovers have been reported. With AWS cross-account access, you can be confident knowing that anything deleted or stolen in one AWS account can easily be recovered in another account. Don’t be the next Code Spaces.
- Flexible RPO (Recovery Point Objective)– You can perform backups every 5 minutes during business hours, with the ability to fall back on less frequent backups outside business hours.
- Near Zero RTO (Recovery Time Objective) – No one can afford significant damage to a business as a result of losing pre-disaster data. You can achieve near zero RTO and significantly minimize your exposure to data loss.
- AWS Multi-Tenancy Solution– N2WS is built for a vast multi-user environment. It allows users or departments in your organization to manage their own AWS resources. Each user can retrieve their own reports, their own notifications and their own logs. This is especially important for MSPs, allowing them to leave their customers to manage their own environments.
- Pre-define Roles – Secure access by defining resource access and authorize credentials using SAML based IDP Providers (ADFS, Okta). N2WS knows how important it is for Enterprises and Public Sector entities to have complete control of data flow within an organization. We wanted these enterprises to have full and effective control of who can access N2WS.
- Scale without worries – As AWS usage increases, demand for data protection inevitably spikes. Disaster Recovery plans needs to scale easily and effortlessly. Being based on EBS snapshots, N2WS has no need to work any harder, despite the number of servers being backed up. N2WS grows with you as you require more resources. It really doesn’t matter if it’s 5 Virtual Machines or 5,000..
- Perform Disaster Recovery Drills – You must be able to automate and perform Disaster Recovery drills as proof for your team that everything is running smoothly, as well as for your auditor. Disaster Recovery Drills and dry runs must be implemented using appropriate parameters and different stress tests.
- Reports & Logs – Configure alerts, reports, or integrate N2WS with 3rd party monitoring solutions.
- Tagging AWS Resources– As data scales, eliminate precious time finding a resource within the UI. It’s much simpler to tag specific resources and N2WS allows you to automatically back up resources that are tagged. You can even use your own pre-defined tag schema.
- Restore Anything – Restore needs will not necessarily be for your entire environment. Sometimes it’s just a folder or file. N2WS specializes in full volume and instance recovery. However, as risk of human error increases, file or folder level recovery is key.
- VPC Cloning – VPC settings, routing tables, security groups and everything else you need to clone your VPC settings into other regions and other accounts is key. Configure regular backups of VPC settings and replicate all of those settings with just a few clicks. Recover those settings to any region.
Is today’s COVID-19 anomaly tomorrow’s norm?
You can talk to your IT team about data security until you are blue in the face, but it’s certainly no match for the need to implement immediate Disaster Recovery procedures as a result of necessity. COVID-19, if it taught us anything about our data is that the best way to scale compute and automate your backup is in the cloud.
If you don’t have solutions in place that have the ability to scale on demand, verify your employees and assure quick and immediate recovery. If you are still relying on manual backing up, N2WS gives you the ability to rectify that, quickly and efficiently.
N2WS Backup & Recovery provides fast and easy means for backing up Amazon EC2 instances, Amazon RDS, Amazon Aurora databases, Amazon Redshift clusters, Amazon EFS and Amazon DynamoDB. By leveraging and enhancing AWS native snapshot capabilities, N2WS is a fully-featured solution providing unparalleled backup and recovery for data held in the AWS cloud. If you are new to N2WS, you can experience all features today with our fully featured 30-day free trial.