Moving from broken backups to next-generation bliss

Despite common knowledge of the value of data, many companies still struggle to establish a backup regime which adequately protects their information. Some executives and heads of IT departments are frustrated by and even deeply mistrustful of the official tape-based backup processes, giving rise to a sprawling ad-hoc “accidental architecture” of duplicate backup procedures.

It’s an unnecessarily costly and risky situation that allows gaps to appear and severely affects the integrity of data protection, says ContinuitySA – and it shouldn’t be allowed to prevail.

“This is a problem which manifests itself in general staff and even executive staff creating their own backups by making copies of important documents on public cloud storage services, external hard drives, flash drives and even their home PCs. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for database administrators to make a complete copy of their database each night in addition to the official tape backup,” says Bradley Janse van Rensburg, CTO, ContinuitySA.

The same is true of mail, document management, virtualisation and other administrators. “The end result is a mess of backups of backups and massive growth of data stored on expensive primary storage systems,” adds Bradley.

Not only is the practice costly, it is also risky, with shortcomings and protection gaps a practical inevitability in the somewhat random approach to backups. When it comes to tape based backups, there’s a further common problem, too.

“Research from EMC reveals that 34% of South African companies are not sending their backups offsite at all, presumably due to the difficulty in working with multiple backup sets and concern for the safety of their data in transit. ContinuitySA’s experience is that many corporations and government agencies don’t follow this basic procedure, which seriously compromises their ability to recover from the loss of on inability to access their facilities,” continues Janse van Rensburg.

He says that the quality of tape backups is also often suspect. “We’ve seen 10-25% percent of all backup jobs failing before they are even removed offsite. Even when a backup job appears successful, it is very rarely verified.”

With the point of a backup being the ability to restore data, failed backups and unverified backups renders the whole process moot.

Bradley therefore says it is arguably time to seriously consider giving tape the boot; and in a business environment where CIOs must play an increasingly strategic role, broken backups shouldn’t be clamouring for their attention.

“We’re finding that more and more companies are looking for fully managed and monitored backup solutions delivered by a specialist service provider, and which don’t use tape as the storage medium,” he adds.

“Traditional tape backups are not only unreliable, they are also extremely difficult to scale. They also do not easily adapt to new technologies which became apparent when IT environments began to be virtualised.”

Ideally, such solutions should comprise of an onsite ‘near line’ backup and recovery vault at each major premise, synchronised to a remote recovery site. “Because most restore requests are submitted within 48 hours of a data loss, the onsite facility is very convenient, and as it uses the existing local-area network, backups and restores are very speedy,” notes Janse van Rensburg.

The onsite backup vault should be a purpose-built appliance that can scale easily as well as integrate with new technologies. It should be designed to check the integrity of backups, and compress and de-duplicate data.

Moving on to the offsite facility, Bradley says it is necessary to ensure good connectivity. “Providing the right kind of bandwidth is essential to ensure that backups can be completed as scheduled and replicated offsite quickly, with full encryption across the whole process. It’s also important that the recovery site has the necessary server infrastructure on which to perform the restore, but also to provide workstations for employees in the event of a major disaster,” he explains.

For those companies seeking to improve their backup regime, Bradley has some further advice. “When selecting your solution provider, make sure that you get user-friendly dashboards and reports to maintain oversight. Meet regularly to ensure that your backup strategy remains aligned with your overall IT and business continuity strategies. But above all – make sure your backups aren’t left to chance,” he concludes.

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Our People

Allen Smith, Executive Chairman

Allen Smith, Executive Chairman

Michael Davies, Chief Executive Officer

Maxine Arnold, Chief Financial Officer

Maxine Arnold, Chief Financial Officer

Bradley Janse van Rensburg

Bradley Janse van Rensburg, Solution Design Manager

Mark Beverley, General Manager: Service Delivery

Wayne Reed, General Manager: R&D

Cindy Bodenstein, Marketing Manager

Miles Murray, General Manager: Sales

Miles Murray, General Manager: Sales

Tracey Linnell, Business Continuity Management

Tracey Linnell, General Manager: Advisory Services

About Us

ContinuitySA is the African continent’s leading business continuity management company.

Our team of highly skilled and qualified industry experts  can help prepare for and deal with potential threats to the optimal functioning of any business, as a result of unforeseen or sudden disruptions due to human error or natural events.

ContinuitySA provides clients with total business continuity solutions and complete outsourcing services, through a comprehensive range of professional services backed by an unrivalled nation-wide infrastructure of facilities, including product offerings and resources.

Our services are focused on the provision of complete business continuity planning, among which include:

•             Risk management,

•             Business impact analysis,

•             Business continuity plans,

•             Crisis management planning,

•             Provision of IT and business recovery facilities including office, contact centre, treasury dealing rooms and back-office Wintel, midrange and mainframe recovery areas. All of these technologies are supported by skilled technical personnel who assist in successful Business Continuity Plan testing and have experience in recovering from actual disasters.

We operate the largest recovery facilities in Southern Africa, with over 25000 sq/m of facilities in Gauteng (Midrand and Randburg), a smaller site in Cape Town of 3000sq/m as well as a 1500sq/m site in Gaborone, Botswana.

Contact Us


Unit5, Growthpoint Business Park

Corner Old Pretoria and Tonetti Road



PO Box 2638



Tel: + 27 11 554 8000

Fax: + 27 11 554 8150


Sales and Marketing:             

Office: (011) 554 8000

Fax: (011) 554 8050



Western Cape

15 Maritz Street


Cape Town


PO Box 897



Tel: +27 21 917 5400

Fax: + 27 21 945 2762


ContinuitySA Botswana

Street  No 268

Private Bag 00346

Phakalane , Gaborone


Tel: +267 360 6600

Fax: +267 318 1930


ContinuitySA Mozambique

Rua De Souza 18



Tel: +258 2172 6000


ContinuitySA Randburg

308 Kent Avenue

Randburg, Gauteng

Tel: 011 438 6889


ContinuitySA Somerset

Office: (011) 438 6889

Continuity Grove Offices

Block C, Olive Grove

Kynoch Road

Somerset West 7130 or

Tel: 021 917 5400