Data resilience needs to be a top business priority

Data is the lifeblood of every business today. In our digital world, the quantity and quality of data are ever-increasing, and so is our reliance on it.

A business would not be able to move forward once it loses access to data due to a cyberattack or natural disaster. However, a resilient organisation has the proper backup and recovery processes in place, allowing it to quickly bounce back from any situation in which data is compromised.

When it comes to the resilience of the organisation’s data, having a reliable and rock-solid plan in place can mean the difference between having a successful business—or having no business. Organisations impacted by ransomware or other data-loss events have trouble winning back consumer trust. One recent survey found that nearly half of consumers would stop using a company’s services following a serious data breach.

Measuring data resilience

Data resilience is not a single solution. It is a set of technologies and strategies that help maintain data availability and ensure it is always accessible, thus minimising any disruptions or downtime that could lead to tangible—and intangible—losses to the business.

Some of these data resilience technologies include cluster storage, data replication, backup, and disaster recovery, which help to minimise the damage caused by cyberthreats, such as ransomware, and any calamities, like catastrophic climate events such as floods and man-made disasters. Having these elements of data resilience in place can help ensure that companies get back on their feet as quickly as possible—with minimal data loss.

Indeed, the critical measure of data resilience is how fast you can spring back from a disruption to resume a normal state of operations and return to business as usual. Having the right technologies and mindset enables the business to protect its data if and when disaster strikes. It includes having the right technologies, such as data backup and recovery solutions, and the right strategies, such as simulating a business disruption to assess your resiliency.

Testing and planning is critical

Another crucial part of data resilience is the capacity to do regular testing so the business can resolve any issues before they occur. Sadly, many organisations don’t test their data resilience plan; many don’t even have a plan in the first place. At a minimum, organisations should prioritise periodical testing of their data backup and recovery proficiency to ensure they can reliably restore their data in the event of a cyberattack or natural disaster.

Any solid data resilience strategy includes recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO) and ways to achieve them. RPO is the critical metric to establish the amount of data the organisation can stand to lose in a disaster. The RPO plays a vital role in determining how often the business needs to back up its data, and the infrastructure it needs to support the backup plan. RPO is less about the actual execution of recovery and more about establishing the framework.

By contrast, RTO is a metric used to understand how downtime can impact the organisation. Once the business has set up its RTO, it will be better positioned to make educated decisions about its data resilience plan. For example, a business may determine it can only handle an hour or two of downtime. In that case, the business should invest in a disaster-recovery solution that lets it get back up and running within that time frame.

The success of any data resilience initiative is defined by how well you plan and test your processes and tools, rather than waiting for something terrible to happen and then desperately trying to figure out how to get back on your feet. Planning is 90% of success.

Data is the new gold. When companies lose access to their data, they lose the ability to propel themselves forward. Organisations need to prioritise data resilience to minimise the impact of data loss, quickly recover from a data-destructive event, and flourish in the digital economy.