Unprotected Virtual Machine (VM) Detection & Monitoring

Creating a virtual machine (VM) today is so fast and simple that it can be all too easy to let them go unprotected. With stakeholders or teams outside of the storage group spinning them up or down as organization needs require, backup admins are often left unaware that they were created, let alone that they are not being backed up.

But leaving VMs unprotected can leave your organization’s data in a precarious place. From malicious cyber attacks and ransomware to something as innocuous as re-purposing servers, there are a whole host of ways that vital data stored on VMs can disappear. Not only could this mean countless hours of lost productivity for internal departments but it could also mean you’ll be faced with stiff penalties for not complying with policies and regulations.

This is where Bocada’s VM Protection Analysis Report can be a great automation tool for your storage and backup teams. By accessing your vCenter(s) Bocada’s software can generate a list of all current and new VMs in your environment. It then compares those results to your backup applications’ image-level backup activity. The result is an easy way to assess if your VMs are properly assigned to backup applications and being backed up successfully, or if they are unscheduled or unassigned and therefore unprotected.

In the screenshot below, you’ll see that it’s easy to identify VMs that are assigned to backup servers. If the VM has a server assigned to it, that server’s name will appear in the Backup Server column. Further, by looking at the Last Backup Success column, you’ll be able to see the last day the VM was successfully backed up.
VM Protection Analysis - Protected VMs

However, it’s possible that VMs are assigned, but that the backups are not successful. Our VM Protection Analysis Report lets you see if this is the case. In the screenshot below, you’ll see VMs that are assigned, but that have a null value in the Last Backup Success column. This is a signal to backup admins to explore the underlying cause of these backup failures.
Non Protected Virtual Machine

There’s also the likely scenario that VMs have been created in your environment but they are going unprotected. When you see the value “Unassigned” under the Backup Server column, you’ll be able to see immediately where this is the case.
Unassigned Not Protected Virtual Machine

VMs offer your organization the storage and CPU capacity flexibility once never thought possible. But, it’s that very same flexibility that leaves your data at risk for corruption or deletion.

How likely is it that you have unprotected VMs in your environment? For a snapshot of your VMs, and how well they are or aren’t protected, try Bocada’s VM Protection Analysis Report. Available in Bocada today at no additional cost, this report gives you a key tool to isolate at-risk data and proactively get ahead of potential issues.

GDPR and Your Data Protection Operations

Does your organization offer goods or services within the EU, monitor EU residents’ behaviors or have any type of physical or virtual presence in the EU? If so, you’re likely subject to the General Data Protection Regulation, more commonly called GDPR.

Adopted in 2016, GDPR becomes enforceable as of May 25, 2018 and governs data protection and privacy for individuals within the EU. While it aims to simplify international business by consolidating regulations within the EU, it represents a new level of regulatory burden for data protection and storage operations in the region.

Below are the specific GDPR provisions that impact storage and backup administrators, and suggestions about how you can keep your backup processes in sync with GDPR rules.

GDPR PROVISIONS & THEIR IMPACT ON BACKUP & STORAGE

In its aim to protect the rights of individuals over their data, GDPR include several key articles that have direct implications for data storage, storage visibility, and reporting on storage activities.

Article 4 Definitions

What It Says “For the purposes of this Regulation: (1) ‘personal data’ means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person…”

What It Means For Backup Article 4 broadens the definitions usually associated with a customer’s or user’s personal information making it that much more important for organizations to have their finger on exactly what is being collected about each and every user, know where the information is stored, ensure that they have the space to store it, and have the policies in place to delete it.

To determine if your environment is prepared for the additional onslaught of data brought on by Article 4, ask yourself if you have:

  • Access to backed-up customer or user information across geographies, even if it’s outside of EU territory.
  • The right retention policies in place to assure no more personal data is retained than is absolutely required by the needs of the business.

Article 17 Right of Erasure

What It Says “The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay…”

What It Means For Backup Article 17 forces organizations to be able to pinpoint a user’s data across their entire backup environment so that it can be deleted in its entirety, no matter where it exists.

To determine if your backup storage and processes can meet Article 17’s guidelines, ask yourself if your current backup protocols let you:

  • Know if information has been duplicated and, if so, where duplicative data lives across your backup environment.
  • Assess if information is stored on-prem, in the cloud, or both.
  • Determine if legacy data is stored in vaults or on tape.
  • Provide sufficient reporting or documentation to verify that data has been erased.

Article 32 Security of Processing

What It Says “…The controller and the processor shall implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk, including inter alia as appropriate: a) the pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data; b) the ability to ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of processing systems and services; c) the ability to restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner in the event of a physical or technical incident; (d) a process for regularly testing, assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of technical and organisational measures for ensuring the security of the processing.

What It Means For Backup Article 32 directly tells organizations that all backed up personal data must be encrypted. Additionally, not only must they be able to restore data in the event that it becomes deleted or corrupted but they must also have a process in place for assessing how effective that restoration process really is (e.g. data audits).

To determine if your backup storage and processes can meet Article 32’s provisions, ask yourself if your existing procedures:

  • Let you see if data is successfully backed up across your entire backup environment.
  • Ensure easy pinpointing of backup failures for quick troubleshooting.
  • Alert you when critical data fails to backup up correctly.
  • Make it simple to report on the efficacy of your backup efforts and your backup health to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Allow you to quickly respond to information requests related to backed up data.

GETTING YOU GDPR READY

GDPR offers value to end users and consumers by giving them greater control over their personal information. However, in doing so, it adds extra work and complexity for data protection organizations, further stressing your already time-pressed teams.

For teams looking to balance existing protocols with new regulations, automating backup and backup reporting activities can be an effective way to minimize the time needed to stay compliant while effectively overseeing your backup space. When considering tools to automate your activities, consider only those that:

  • Ensure compliance with data sovereignty laws
  • Enable reporting across your entire suite of backup software solutions
  • Consolidate monitoring under a single pane
  • Reduce or remove manual reporting and script writing
  • Function across a full spectrum of backup storage destinations
  • Aggregate backup activities across business functions, business units, and geographies
  • Provide details on stored data at the target, client and server levels
  • Provide audit reporting for any time in the history of your operations

If you’re preparing your backup environment to be GDPR compliant, we encourage you to schedule time for a personal demo of the Bocada’s data protection reporting and monitoring capabilities. When tested in your native backup environment, you’ll see right away how much time you’ll save staying on top of GDPR compliance activities.

[VIDEO] Staying Ahead of Storage Capacity Trends & Usage

How much time can you allocate on a regular basis to capacity usage and planning? When troubleshooting backup job failures gets priority, keeping your eye on storage capacity can often take second billing. And yet, exceeding storage capacity is often the underlying reason behind backup job failures.

This is where Bocada’s Backup Trends Report can save you time…and keep you ahead of potential storage issues. By helping you easily visualize your capacity usage trends over long periods of time, the Backup Trends Report can help signal when it’s time to invest in additional storage, or re-think your backup policies to cut back on storage usage.

Come watch how our Backup Trends Report will give you better and faster visibility into your backup capacity.

Would this type of backup capacity usage reporting save you time? Contact us at sales@bocada.com to learn more.

Backup Data Audit Preparation

Backup data auditAre you prepared for a data audit? How strong is your backup and recovery plan? Is your backup environment ready to withstand threats from cyber attacks or natural disasters. Even if you could answer these questions properly one year ago, can you answer them with certainty today?

Enterprise IT environments are undergoing rapid change, and with that change comes a need to evolve data protection protocols and adjust oversight measures to ensure data security. Yet according to a Ponemon survey, over half of all organizations admit to never reviewing or updating their incident response plan. This means countless organizations undergoing these IT evolutions are ill-prepared to address disruptions to data integrity.

To determine how prepared your organization is to address data breaches or other issues affecting data quality you will likely be subjected to an annual data protection audit. A high-level assessment will quickly offer visibility into your backup environment’s health, and pinpoint where you’ll need to focus your attention to best safeguard your data.

10 Questions to Prepare for Your Backup Data Audit

While each enterprise data environment is unique, there are fundamental approaches to addressing data protection and security. By answering the following ten questions, you’ll be able to see how protected your backup environment is from external threats.

1. Are you backing up all your targets, clients and servers?

You’ll need oversight over your entire backup environment, which covers every single client and server across your organization’s departments, business units, or geographies. After all, should a natural disaster hit in one location, you’ll need to know that any data stored on affected systems can be readily recalled. Without that holistic oversight, you’ll never know how prepared you are to respond to data corruption or deletion.

2. Do all of your backup products define successful backups the same way?

Organizations that have undergone mergers and acquisitions, or even technology evolutions, are likely using multiple backup software products. Considering that each backup software has a unique GUI and scripting protocol, with different features, functionality and definitions, comparing performance across the backup products can be challenging. Standardizing backup performance metrics is very difficult…but necessary to ensure you have comparable data across your backup environment.

3. Can you easily review backup success or failure rates?

Easy access to backup success or failure rates is crucial as it paves the path for troubleshooting those backups that continue to fail. Unless you have a way to easily view which backups failed, and especially which backups consecutively failed, you won’t have a way to efficiently hone in on problem areas that could result in long-term data loss.

4. Do you know the backup frequency and backup type of critical data?

When you’re dealing with vast amounts of data, and trying to minimize data storage utilization, it can appear favorable to opt for partial backups to reduce the shear amount of data being backed up. However, for critical data that needs to backed up daily, if not more frequently, that may not be sufficient. Visibility into backup frequency (e.g. daily, weekly) and type (e.g. partial, full) is crucial for ensuring that vital data is never lost.

5. Are you alerted when a critical backup fails?

Even if you do have a way to easily see which backups failed, what happens if it’s a mission-critical backup? Days could go by while you fix other failures, and never know this critical data sits unprotected. Do you have a way to be notified right away when must-save data isn’t getting backed up?

6. Do you have a way to efficiently enter failures into a ticketing system?

As you tackle backup failures, what does your process look like for fixing them? Consider if you have a process that lets you efficiently collect the time, location, and reason behind a backup failure and share it with the backup team. Without an efficient way to get failures into your service or ticketing system, you’re slowing down how quickly they can be addressed.

7. Can you map your backed up data by media type & location?

In long-standing enterprise environments, data is likely stored on tapes and disks in both on-premises locations and 3rd party storage site. Data is likely also stored in the cloud through AWS or Azure and on storage devices like DataDomain or StoreOnce. Do you know where all your data is stored, and on what media types? Being able to map all of your backup data by media type and location ensures that if you ever need to access it, you’ll know exactly where to look.

8. Are your backups meeting the correct policy criteria?

If your organization is accountable to government regulations like HIPAA or GDPR that stipulate data retention periods, or if you have internal requirements around backup types, you’ll need some level of oversight that those policies are being met. Without clear visibility into your policy set up, backups may not be meeting regulation criteria, leaving your organization at risk for serious fines and penalties.

9. Can you quickly show you’re meeting compliance or SLA requirements?

Consider the different types of service agreements you might have in place such as completing full backups every day, or hitting a certain backup success rate. Reporting on SLA compliance is often mandatory, but takes time away from operational tasks. With a quick way to report on these metrics, you’ll be assured that time is being better spent on managing the day-to-day health of your backup environment.

10. Can you quickly check on your backup servers’ storage capacity?

One of the common reasons backups fail is because there is insufficient server storage capacity. Yet checking on capacity cuts into valuable time spent maintaining and fixing backup failures. By ensuring you have a way to quickly check on storage capacity, you’ll know if you can turn your attention back to managing your backups, or need to focus it on building storage capacity.

The Right Tools For Your Backup Data Audit

While the questions in the backup data audit may appear simple, they are extraordinarily time consuming and often difficult to answer when faced with complex, enterprise backup environments. Organizations managing servers across geographies, and using different backup software to protect their data, often leverage automation solutions to tackle these very questions. When assessing which automation solutions to use, consider ones that:

  • Function effectively across your suite of backup software
  • Reduce or remove manual reporting and script writing
  • Offer visibility into backups across targets, clients, and servers
  • Provide details on server capacity and utilization
  • Ease backup failure pinpointing and troubleshooting
  • Track backup policies across your entire environment
  • Function across a wide range of backup destinations

If you are preparing for a backup data audit, we encourage you to schedule time for a personal demo of the Bocada system. When tested in your native backup environment, you’ll see right away just how quickly and easily you can answer all ten questions in your backup audit.

[Video] How To Quickly Review Overnight Backup Success

The standard question any backup admin asks when coming into work each morning is, “How did my backups do last night?” Yet answering this question can often take several hours a day. Zeroing in on the servers and clients of interest is just the first step. Admins then need to write scripts for different backup products, and often merge reports for a single view of critical data. Something so integral to data protection management should be much faster to answer.

This is why Bocada created the Job Trends Report. By pulling data together from different backup servers, the Job Trends Report offers an automated, summarized view of your backup environment…without any need to log into your backup servers. This report can be delivered to your inbox each day before you even arrive for work so you can quickly isolate failures and zero-in on fixing them.

Further, by looking at results across a longer time frame, you can begin seeing backup success and failure trends. While a single backup failure may not be cause for concern, seeing it fail time and time again can be the motivation you need to prioritize fixing deeper problems.

Come watch how our Job Trends Report will give you a faster way to triage your backup work.

Would this type of recurring backup environment reporting save you time? Contact us at sales@bocada.com to learn more.