Taking a safe first step on the business ladder
Starting any new business in today's volatile economy is a formidable challenge. It is estimated that at least 50 percent of them fail within the first five years. Those businesses that do survive beyond those crucial years have to carefully refine their business processes and operations, and in particular how they manage and protect their information assets.
One aspect that is often overlooked that can bring a business to its knees, irrespective of its past and current successes, is the lack of a robust backup and recovery strategy to cater for their exponential growth of business data.
While most companies today have some type of backup strategy in place, not all backup solutions are created equal. In fact, many fall short of meeting the most basic tried and tested methodologies to securely backup and recover enterprise-wide information.
Some organisations use one or a combination of in-house hardware, tape libraries, portable hard drives and memory sticks to back up their data and only too often, such backups are done on an ‘as and when’ basis instead of according to a fixed timetable. This can lead to missed data, duplication of data and data loss from hard disk drive failures, error-prone tape-based processes, power surges, loss or theft.
Others opt for public cloud offerings, which leave them vulnerable to data compromises from hackers. They also run the risk of only having intermittent access to their business-critical information at crucial points in sales cycles with no accountability from their service provider 'somewhere' in the cloud.
While there are many horror stories about what could happen if a business suffers data loss, companies that aren't able to resume operations within a few days of losing business-critical information are likely to suffer dips in revenue and reputational risk with their customers. It is estimated that 65 percent of businesses that suffer a significant loss of data do not survive beyond a further 12-month period.
As small businesses grow to become mid-sized companies, it is vital for them to have rigid and automated operational backup and recovery strategies in place that will allow them to safely and securely store their data.
Compliance and governance also becomes a greater issue as companies drive business value, so gaining visibility over their technology infrastructures is also a legal obligation that these organisations have to satisfy. In addition, many large customers will require companies to certify their compliance to strict risk management which will include disciplined and provable strategies for data protection.
These requirements place an additional burden on companies. Most growing organisations need all their people resources at their disposal to keep up with the pace of the expansion and cannot add additional resources to focus on rigorously backing up critical data on a continuous basis. Additionally, the lack of visibility over which files are business-critical versus those that are more transitory is increasing organisational risk.
As the technology landscape continues to evolve, specialist cloud computing providers have emerged that offer secure off-site cloud data protection solutions backed by Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
These next-generation cloud solutions provide organisations fast, assured and automated backup of their mission critical information with the ability to recover lost data via web interface in a timely manner. Automated cloud-based backup and recovery solutions not only reduce cost and administrative headaches, but frees up staff to focus on growing the business.
In addition, leveraging the cloud for backup and recovery offers small to medium businesses (SMB) a range of advantages:
· By opting for cloud backup, businesses know that their data is stored in a reliable, off-site, redundant environment in line with compliance and governance regulations.
· Some providers offer flexible retention and deployment configuration depending on an organisation's requirements, be it on-premises, cloud-based or hybrid.
· Reputable cloud providers offer companies advanced backup and restore capabilities, with the ability to roll back their backups to restore previous versions of the same documents, if the need arises, especially if they merely have a need to recover corrupted data and not the whole data set.
· Due to the economies of scale within the provider environment, backing up in the cloud reduces the costs associated with a dedicated backup infrastructure, simplifies IT budgeting. Many offer budget flexibility with 'pay as you protect' offerings.
· Most providers offer scheduling of backups, which reduces human error in backup procedures.
· SLA's are also top of mind for growing businesses to ensure that there is business continuity and respectable cloud providers offer users pro-active, web-based monitoring and around the clock operational support to manage possible backup errors and detect possible vulnerabilities.
When taking the cloud-based route it is important to ensure that service providers demonstrate the strictest processes and technologies to safeguard a company's data. This not only includes physical security of its data centres and acts of nature, but also written policies for proactive monitoring, data encryption in transit, encryption during storage, controlled access and verification of data integrity. If these requirements are satisfied, growing businesses can ensure that their journey to complete backup and recovery peace of mind is a successful one.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”