When I was a young boy, I saw a sign on our street that said “free puppies”, with an adorable picture. Excited, I went to see my father and said “daddy daddy”, the puppies are free. Can I have one, pleeeeas?

My father reminded me that a puppy is a lot of responsibility. It’s not the cost of the puppy that matters. I also have to factor in things like food, vet bills, and the time and effort I would spend raising this pet.

This reminds me a lot of the current trend towards the commoditization of IT.

At an accelerating pace, business technology is becoming more accessible. And although this has done a great deal to make sophisticated IT systems easier to implement and manage, this convenience also brings its own challenges.

Today, many best-of-breed disaster recovery solutions are inexpensive and contain exciting, powerful and easy-to-use features. But you can’t just think of software licenses when evaluating disaster recovery solutions. You also have to factor in things like hardware, datacenter space, professional services, capital expenditures, vendor lock-in, lost productivity, security issues, and management overhead.

When you take all of the costs and hassles into consideration, the total cost of implementing and managing your own disaster recovery system can be much higher than the price of the price.

Also, the free puppy might be lacking some essential capabilities. Maybe it’s too friendly to guard your house, or maybe it can’t catch a frisbee. This is time and effort that you’ll need to invest in training.

Likewise, as your needs evolve, you’ll often find that there are some capabilities lacking in your DR plan. You’ll need to invest heavily in upgrades and training.

Do-it-yourself disaster recovery is a bit like a free puppy. It comes with lots of responsibility. If you’d like more peace of mind around your data protection, consider working with a backup and disaster recovery provider that can take on all of these responsibilities for you while providing you with all the benefits.

GDPR, a set of new rules for data collection and storage, took effect on May 25th, 2018. The purpose of the regulation is to provide individuals with more control over their own data and communicate how that data is collected, stored, processed and used – no matter the location.

For the first time, monetary sanctions of up to 4% of global annual turnover will apply to breaches of the regulation. It also includes additional measures to protect the personal data of EU citizens.

At Storagepipe, we understand the value of data to your organization and the serious implications of a data breach. Download our white papers now to learn about GDPR compliance and how we can help.

Imagine that 3 people want to each open a sandwich shop. One man is a butcher, another is a farmer, and the third is a baker.

The butcher is an expert with meats. The farmer is an expert with produce. And the baker is an expert at making bread. Each is the master of their specific domain.

Of course, each of these could learn the other’s trades. With a bit of effort, the butcher could learn to grow vegetables and make his own bread. But this would not be the best use of his talents. If all three shops operated this way, they would all be overworked and under-productive.

Instead, it would make more sense for all three of these experts to focus on their strengths, and team up with other experts to make up where they lack.

• The butcher could produce all the meats for everyone.
• The farmer could supply all the produce.
• And the baker could supply all of the bread.

By creating partnering up and relying on each other’s comparative advantages, all three businesses could collectively operate much more efficiently and profitably. When there’s synergy, everyone wins!

Most IT managers are fast learners with versatile skill sets. However, there are some projects and capabilities that might provide more business value than others or be better-aligned with their specific talents.

According to the theory of comparative advantage, the key to maximizing your effectiveness as an IT leader is to focus exclusively on those high-value activities that are best-aligned with your talents. Any other work should be outsourced or delegated.

For example, if your strengths are best-aligned around things such as infrastructure management, then it might make sense to outsource non-core activities such as backup and disaster recovery to a trusted partner that specializes in this domain.

By focusing on your comparative advantage, you can be more productive, free up more time, and achieve total peace of mind.

What would happen if the fire alarm in your office went off at this very moment? Would there be a mad rush for the doors, or would most people just ignore it and keep working until they smelled smoke?

As indicated by the Institute for Research in Construction, only about 25% of occupants react to fire alarms as if they were potential indicators of a real emergency. Instead, most people assume that the alarm is merely a drill.

In other words, fire drills DECREASE the life-saving effectiveness of fire alarms.

Here’s another example to consider.

In 2010, an 89-year-old patient died of heart failure at Massachusetts General Hospital. For 20 minutes, a series of alarms, beeps, and messages had been sending urgent warnings to the hospital staff. It was so distracting that an employee had to manually shut off the crisis alarm on the patient’s bedside monitor. Instead of taking appropriate action, these signals were ignored entirely.

These nurses weren’t evil or cold-blooded. Instead, they had become desensitized by years of constant false-alarms from oversensitive and malfunctioning medical devices. When an actual crisis was detected, everyone assumed it was simply a false alarm.

This phenomenon is called “Alarm Fatigue”, and it can easily lead to accidental data loss and failure of critical business systems.

As an IT administrator, you are constantly juggling priorities, multi-tasking and keeping up with unplanned work. Alarms are constantly going off; also, your job is to choose which fires are generally imperative.

In most cases, if you miss a legitimate alarm, the outcomes are generally minor. But there’s one area where the results can be very severe.

Compared to other conflicting responsibilities, backup and disaster recovery rarely feel like an urgent priority. But when they do become a priority, it’s usually too late to do anything about it.

To be an active IT leader, and respond more efficiently, you need to manage your signal-to-noise ration. Before you’re notified of an alarm, it helps to have someone that will verify and triage for you. You should only be notified of actual emergencies that require your immediate attention.

Specialization and delegation are an effective way to deal with alarm fatigue. When you delegate backup to a specialist, you can eliminate all of the distractions and conflicting priorities that might lead to alarm fatigue. Instead, you establish a consistent, repetitive process where every potential problem is proactively investigated and fixed. At that point, you can execute additional layers of auditing and monitoring to get any issues that might fall through the cracks.

By making this a dedicated and focused role within your IT function, you can significantly reduce the chances of alarm fatigue creeping into your backup and disaster recovery process.

Of course, this might not be a feasible option for most organizations. If you can’t afford to have a dedicated internal data protection and business continuity team, then outsourcing your backups to a dedicated provider can give you the same benefits as a fraction of the cost.

By outsourcing your data protection and business continuity to a specialized service provider, you can guarantee exhaustive protection and total peace of mind.

In 1992, the Royal Majesty cruise ship ran aground because of an electrical problem with their GPS system. Despite the fact that it should have been clear to any experienced crewmember that the ship had been veering off-course, most simply assumed that the GPS system would correct itself or someone else would take on the responsibility of fixing the problem.

Humans have a bias to trust computers over humans. And this bias grows over time, as computers continue to prove their accuracy and trustworthiness. When a human operator notices something wrong with an automated system, they are often likely to disregard reality and go with what the computer is saying.

This is an excellent example of the “Automation Paradox”.

As automation becomes more effective, the role of the human operator turns out to be more vital. In the same way that automation can create exponential benefits and efficiencies, it can also scale out the harm caused by human error and poor implementation.

In the early days of computing, mainframes were very expensive and difficult to use. Administrators took great care in their maintenance & implementation, and hacking was very unlikely. The process of provisioning a new machine could take months and required approval from many different departments. If these mainframes ever crashed, the company could still maintain some level of operations through their paper-based processes.

Today, virtualization makes it easy to launch new servers with default security settings quickly. IT departments must deal with virtualization sprawl, shadow IT, and employees working on unauthorized systems. Provisioning has become so easy that IT administrators are struggling to prevent new systems from getting added to the network. And as a result, tolerances for data loss, security breaches, and unplanned downtime have virtually dropped to zero.

A day in the life of the average IT manager often resembles the broom scene from Disney’s Fantasia.

Thankfully, the tools have also improved. Today’s IT administrators have access to backup and disaster recovery systems that are both – potent and elementary to use. But the automation paradox also applies to backup and disaster recovery systems.

If you can protect all of your virtualized systems from a single application, that’s great. But this also means that human error has the potential to cause much more damage. As your data protection and business continuity tools become more powerful, you likewise have a duty to be extra-cautious with their management, monitoring, and implementation.

This is why we recommend delegating your data protection and business continuity to a dedicated specialist that exclusively does this kind of work, and nothing else. When you outsource your backup and disaster recovery to a specialist, you know that this work is being done by dedicated experts who have the training, experience, and resources to ensure that your systems are always protected.
When disaster strikes, you can take comfort in the fact that these specialists perform real-world recoveries every day. They know how to take care of business right, inevitably, without fail.

You need the best automation tools. But they have to be managed by the best-trained and most skilled technicians. The more efficient the automation, the more crucial the role of the human operator. If you want total peace of mind, make sure that you have the best people implementing, managing and monitoring your backups.

Imagine the following scenario:

  • You’re the IT administrator for your company.
  • To eliminate human error and physical media failure, you’ve implemented a fully-automated network backup solution that creates redundant backup copies across multiple physical sites.
  • You’re following the greater part of the best practices. In any case, at that point something terrible happens.
  • One of your trusted internal systems gets hacked, and this system becomes a gateway for the hacker to install malware on all of your production servers. You log in to assess the situation but are met with a ransom note stating that you must pay $10,000 in Bitcoin to decrypt your files.
  • You check your other copies but find that your backup servers have also been compromised. Despite your best backup plans, all of your data is gone.
  • Reluctantly, you pay the fine. But instead of the decryption key, the blackmailers now demand another $50,000. What would you do?

Ransomware has become a nightmarish epidemic that’s wreaking havoc on the IT industry.

Today’s ransomware attacks have evolved in sophistication to become incredibly aggressive, destructive and resilient. Worst of all, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become a practical and anonymous means for criminals to extort money from helpless victims.

How can you protect yourself? One solution might be to augment your existing backup and disaster recovery plan with additional precautionary Air-Gap backup copies.

With Air-Gap backups, copies of your data are kept completely isolated… physically disconnected from any networks. Thusly, they’re protected from even the most forceful hackers.

Of course, as you adapt your tactics to threats, the threats will continue adapting to your tactics. It’s a constant war to protect your company’s most valuable assets.

That’s why you need to surround yourself with the most highly-trained, well-equipped and experienced experts you can find. By allowing Storagepipe to assist in your backup and disaster recovery plan, you’ll have more peace of mind when facing potential future ransomware attacks.

Happy Holidays From Storagepipe

THREAT! The virus scanner pings
Your system needs some updating
Yes it has been quite a while
Your OS is out of style
Careful with your documents
It’s just good ol’ common sense
Always backup your hard drive
And any threat you will survive
THREAT! The virus scanner pings
Cryptocurrency mining

Using storage in the cloud
Covered by encryptions shroud
Passwords just a few are told
Keep them fresh and not too old
Always check for system bugs
and loading times that move like slugs
Fear not if your screen goes blue
Storagepipe’s looking out for you
THREAT! The virus scanner pings
For botnets, you’ll be spamming

Anti-social social engineers
Have CIOs cowering in fear
Trusted users compromised
Packet sniffers, prying eyes
Don’t bring down your company
by shrugging off security
terms, conditions we say “YES”
though not read, we must confess
THREAT! The virus scanner finds
Storagepipe for peace of mind

The term “Black Swan” dates back to the first century A.D. Originally. The term was ordinarily used to show an event that was exceptionally improbable.

For example:

  • “I’ll see a Black Swan before you ever beat me at chess.”
  • “An honest politician is like a Black Swan.”

And then, in 1697, something incredible happened. The Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh travelled to Australia, where he discovered a species of black swans!

Since then, the importance of the expression has changed to depict a type of logical fallacy. The fact that you’ve never seen something before is no indication that it won’t occur in the future.

Likewise, the fact that you’ve planned for every likely disaster recovery scenario is no indication that you’ve designed for every possible threat. In fact, the most serious data breaches and data loss scenarios are often the results of unanticipated events or perfect storms.

So how do you prepare for Black Swans in your data protection strategy?

One way is through specialization. Delegate all of your backup, information compliance and disaster recovery tasks to a team of dedicated specialists with years of experience in this field. Ensure these experts have the best training, the best infrastructure, and the best tools at their disposal.

As specialists, they learn from each disaster recovery incident and become more prepared by learning from each new disaster they encounter. These experts have seen it all, and nothing surprises them.

In spite of the fact that there is no 100% guaranteed way to anticipate all possible Black Swan disasters, putting your recovery plan in the hands of a specialist like Storagepipe is the best way to get peace of mind for your data protection.

In September of 2015, Amazon experienced a major downtime incident that knocked out availability at many leading cloud services, including Amazon’s own Echo smart speaker.

Of all the companies affected by this breach, none seem to have fared better than Netflix. Despite the major disruption that knocked out more than 20 critical AWS services, Netflix were quickly able t restore full streaming video services to the 50 million homes that depend on the service.

When asked, Netflix attributed this amazing feat to what they describe as “Chaos Engineering”. Netflix has developed a software solution called Simian Army, which acts as a benevolent malware which perpetually lives within the company.

This suite of tools is constantly triggering events such as:

  • Randomly disabling production servers
  • Introducing latency into client-server communications
  • Simulating outages of entire AWS data centers

As the name would suggest, it’s like letting a pack of rabid monkeys loose in your datacenter.

For most AWS clients, the outage was a major disruption. But for Netflix, this was just another routine battle against the Simian Army.

When was the last time you’d experienced a major unplanned downtime event, server outage or data loss incident? Most small businesses might experience one every year or two.

But at Storagepipe, disaster recovery is all we do. Clients outsource their nightmares to us, and we’re constantly providing consistent, reliable recovery from any emergency you can possibly imagine.

  • Ransomware?
  • Natural disasters?
  • Employee sabotage?

We’ve seen it all. And it’s all we do. All day, every day.

It’s only a matter of time until your company gets hit by a major IT emergency. When that time comes, what would you rather do?

  • Improvise a do-it-yourself recovery plan?
  • Or get the most experienced and qualified people to save the day?

Because we live in a world of IT chaos, Storagepipe has the experience, knowledge, infrastructure and tools to ensure total peace of mind for your data protection.