When IT planners think of business continuity they often think of databases and applications the organization needs to sustain operations. But what about unstructured data? Does unstructured data need the same level of business continuity that structured data does?
How quickly unstructured data access needs to be restored is dependent on the organization, but it is often much faster than IT thinks. For example, IT may go to great lengths to make sure the order entry system is back online, but what about making sure that the staff has the ability to create quotes or proposals that lead to the orders that go into the order entry system. There are also organizations that believe the processing of unstructured data is critical to its operations.
It is also important to realize that there are more threats directed to unstructured data than there are to structured data. Most databases and applications are safe and protected behind the comfy confines of the data center. Much of unstructured data is outside of the data center and is vulnerable to loss, theft or even cyberattack (ransomware).
The problem is providing quick recovery and access to a large amount of unstructured data is not a straightforward process. If the primary data center is destroyed, a new centralized location needs to be found and a new file server stood up with all the latest data restored to it. This process is not only time consuming it is complex to re-map the organization’s users to the new file server, especially considering that all the work spent re-mapping users will also be required again in a few weeks when the original primary data center is working.
The Cloud for Business Continuance Recovery
An alternative option is to leverage the cloud. Our prior column discussed how to use the cloud for distribution and collaboration but many organizations may start with a motivation to solve unstructured data availability challenges. Using the design outlined in the prior column there is a centralized global file system based in the cloud. Then at each of the organization’s locations an appliance caches that location’s most active data.
This hub and spoke architecture with a cloud backend not only provides rapid access to cloud-based data, it also provides redundancy. If for some reason the local cache is destroyed in a disaster, the moment the user logs in at a new location they are re-routed to the cloud-based copy of their data. The result is that users and applications have almost 100% access to their data all of the time, without IT having re-map user connections.
Unstructured Business Continuity is becoming increasingly important. In the digital world users simply can’t function without having access to their data. Also certain applications require unstructured data to derive their results. In both cases a global file system leveraging the cloud as a backend will deliver much higher levels of business continuity with almost no IT interaction.
In our webinar, “Overcoming the Top 3 Challenges of the Storage Status Quo”, one of the topics we discuss is using a cloud-based global file system to provide business continuity to unstructured data. We also discuss how using that cloud based global file system can solve data distribution, data collaboration as well as simplifying the overall management process (data protection, disaster recovery and replication).