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Tuesday, 09 June 2015 10:17

Five reasons why IT administrators are driving organisations to the cloud

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Despite their protestations that it’s users that cause ALL the problems IT admins are unfortunately your weakest link. Here are five good reasons to move/stay in the cloud.

If you ever needed a good excuse for why your business needs to avoid leaving the cloud then here are five big ones thanks to data specialists Kroll Ontrack. Their top five most common IT administrator mistakes is effectively a tick-box list of why you should never move to on premise and why you should put everything you have in the cloud and invest in a good DRaaS solution.

The most common IT mistakes or oversights as seen by Kroll Ontrack are:

  1. Failure to document and execute established IT, retention and backup procedures. A test server moves into production, but no one informs IT that it is now capturing valuable data, and the data is not being backed up. In another scenario, the departure of a key knowledge holder for the environment creates confusion or an undocumented pool of unknown detail about the configuration and use of the system. 
  2. Failure to backup effectively. In a recent survey of Kroll Ontrack data recovery customers, 61% had a backup in place at the time of data loss - either the backup was not functioning properly, the desired storage device was not included in the backup or the backup was not current. Testing backup policies, identifying correct storage and validating backup integrity is critical. 
  3. Delay in infrastructure or security investments. Many cases of data loss are a result of companies failing to invest in infrastructure updates or security. 
  4. Failure to adhere to and maintain relevant security policies and/or keep OS and security controls up to date. Even the smallest failure in IT security can lead to devastating results, including data loss and expense. Administrators need to leverage elevated privileges appropriately, restrict passwords only to required users, and change them when an IT administrator leaves the company. Adequately update OS security patches and malware protection controls to guard against cyber-attacks and malicious agents.
  5. Deleting data that is still in active u­­­se. Kroll Ontrack are asked to routinely perform data recovery on tapes or server networks that are thought to be out of use, but in fact still contain active data.

What the findings above show is that the current systems are just so complex that it’s little wonder that problems don’t occur more. It’s only thanks to good quality IT admins that we are not completely engulfed by systems going tits-up and businesses losing data. As Paul Le Messurier, Programme and Operations Manager at Kroll Ontrack confirms. "The complexity involved in managing today's virtual IT environments combined with the growing amount of data that streams through corporate networks requires diligent IT administration and effective data management policies."

Kroll Ontrack recommends IT departments follow these best practices in light of data loss, to ensure the best chance of an effective resolution:

  • Avoid panicking and rushing to action. If data loss happens, companies should not restore data to the source volume from backup because this is where the data loss occurred in the first place. They should also not create new data on the source volume, as it could be corrupt or damaged.
  • Be confident in skills and knowledge. IT staff must help leadership avoid making decisions that do more harm than good. When specifically faced with a possible data loss event, the volume should quickly be taken off line. Data is being overwritten at a rapid pace, and the volume should not be formatted to resolve corruption.
  • Have a plan. Staff should follow established ITIL processes and ensure data centre documentation is complete and revisited often to ensure it is up to date. In particular, IT staff should not run volume utilities (CHKDSK/FSCK) or update firmware during a data loss event.
  • Know the environment (and the data). IT staff must understand what their storage environment can handle and how quickly it can recover. Knowing what data is critical or irreplaceable, whether it can be re-entered or replaced, and the costs for getting that data up and running to a point of satisfaction is important. Staff must weigh up the costs and risks when determining what is most urgent - getting their systems up and running quickly or protecting the data that is there.
  • When in doubt, call a data recovery company.  While the manufacturer or vendor may be a good starting point, the value of data and the potential for data loss when getting a system back up and running may not be top of mind. Staff should be sure to consult a reputable data recovery company if concerns over data loss arise.

What Kroll Ontrack doesn’t say is that one of the best ways to avoid all of this is of course to move to the cloud, but then you know that already, don’t you? 

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