Data Backup Compliance Reporting Best Practices

The Bocada Team | April 3, 2019

Government regulations aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, their number and scope is only growing. Regulation stalwarts like HIPAA in healthcare, FINRA in finance, and SOC2 in the data service sector are now joined by GDPR, the newest regulation that impacts all businesses, independent of industry, doing business in the EU. Keeping track of each regulation’s provisions, let alone actively complying with them, is onerous.

This is especially true in the data protection and backup space. With so many compliance provisions hinging on the treatment of personal data and business continuity and recovery planning in the event of natural disasters or cybersecurity threats, backup teams are feeling the brunt of both executing against regulations and demonstrating compliance

It’s why looking for opportunities to simplify and streamline backup compliance reporting is so valuable. Today, critical time that could be spent proactively monitoring backup performance and health is going instead to compliance reporting. This does not need to be the case! Optimizing compliance reporting in two key areas—the daily activities that ensure full compliance and the recurring tasks needed to demonstrate compliance—changes the game entirely. Backup admins are freed from recurring, tedious tasks to spend their time instead actually strengthening an organization’s data protection foundations.

Daily Optimization Opportunities To Ensure Compliance

The first part of simplifying compliance reporting is enacting the day-to-day best practices that make it easier to achieve compliance goals.

Review Daily Backup Performance Have your prior day’s backup performance ready for you when you walk through the door to gain a clear picture over your entire backup environment. Leveraging systems that orchestrate the pulling and normalizing of backup data from your entire backup environment—whether it’s on-prem, cloud, or both—means less time spent pulling data and more time spent analyzing issues that could keep you from hitting compliance goals.

Triage Failures By Category Taking a one-by-one troubleshooting approach is time-intensive, and nearly impossible when faced with thousands of clients within a backup environment. Simplify your backup failure troubleshooting by filtering and sorting backup failures included in your daily overviews by potential problem area (e.g. backup product, server, department, etc.). Slicing and dicing your backup failure data into related categories will help isolate culprits causing the biggest failures and ensure faster failure resolutions.

Review Consecutive Backup Failures Backup jobs can fail for a variety of legitimate reasons, and often succeed after their next run. Consecutive failures, however, can be cause for concern. Aggregate backup jobs that failed over recurring runs to more quickly isolate failures that require your attention. Failing to do so could lead you to spend time on single-failure issues that keep you away from tackling larger, systemic failures.

Oversee Data Retention Ensure that your clients have clear retention policies in place, and that there is a simple way to verify that programmed policies align with regulations. With retention periods clearly laid out in several regulations, particularly FINRA and HIPAA, regular reviews of your policies ensure that you are complying with those regulations’ protocols.

Send Critical Failure Alerts With business continuity planning at the heart of many government regulations, it’s valuable to receive notifications when business-critical backups fail. Timely failure alerting ensures proactive remediation and prevents barriers to recovering necessary data.

Automate Support Ticketing Tied in with failure alerting is automating the creation of support tickets in your tickets system. It isn’t enough to isolate a failure. You have to fix the underlying cause as well. Streamlining the process of getting support tickets to system architects allows them to address problems faster and get backups succeeding quicker.

Monthly Opportunities To Streamline Compliance Reporting

With day-to-day operations streamlined and backup success rate goals in check, the next step is to prove the team’s success rates. Implementing best practices to make compliance reporting easier and faster do just that, while saving critical hours better spent on proactive monitoring and oversight.

Develop Templated Compliance Reports Creating reports from scratch each and every time you have to show compliance might seem necessary, but it shouldn’t be. Leverage standardized compliance reporting templates to remove the time spent normalizing and formatting data for internal and external auditor reviews. Key stakeholders will quickly become adept at understanding your reports and you’ll remove a recurring task from your monthly and yearly to-do list.

Automate Report Distribution After implementing your compliance report template, automate the distribution. Keeping tabs on which stakeholder needs which type of compliance report, and ensuring they receive it, is one more nuisance that doesn’t have to be part of your compliance process. Automate delivery of the reports on a schedule right to their inbox. Leveraging a streamlined distribution process that ensures timely and accurate receipt of compliance reports and reduces the number of contacts to your team.

Systematize Backup Failure Remediation Tracking Trying to figure out the what was done to fix a backup failure is often like trying to find a needle-in-a-haystack. But this information is critical to answer auditors questions about what steps were taken to fix failures and when. Instead of hunting for remediation steps each time a request appears, develop a centralized process for noting (annotating) activity details like client and server name, failure date, failure cause, and remediation steps. This will drastically reduce the hours spent on audit reporting.  

Automating Backup Compliance Reporting

Teams managing backup and storage across servers, geographies and business units are hard-pressed to achieve these best practices manually, especially when factoring in that most teams juggle a range of backup products in the cloud and on-prem. This is a key opportunity to leverage backup orchestration and automation tools to simplify these activities. These tools ensure backup compliance oversight and reporting are done efficiently, all while removing the errors associated with manual procedures.

When assessing unified automation platforms, consider tools that:

  • Orchestrate backup data collection and data normalization across cloud and on-prem backup environments
  • Automate backup performance reporting and ease failure troubleshooting
  • Feature templated reports for faster compliance reporting dissemination
  • Include features to categorize, sort and filter data for faster triaging
  • Allow for customizable reporting for unique compliance criteria
  • Track backup policies across you entire environment

If you and your team are regularly taxed by regularly backup compliance oversight and reporting, we encourage you to schedule time for a demo of the Bocada backup performance platform. When tested in your native backup environment, you’ll see right away just how quickly and easily you can address compliance reporting needs.