Why Backup as a Service Makes Sense for Manufacturers

Ryan Spurr

In recent months, I have written on the growing importance of effective business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) programs, especially in light of the increased risks to manufacturing organizations. We only need to turn on the news to see in plain sight why manufacturing became the second most targeted industry in 2020 and why 33% of all cyber-theft incidents impacted manufacturing companies. But security threats are not the only potential risks we should be considering.

Most manufacturers are also dealing with complex hybrid tech estates, multiple locations, plant infrastructure, regulatory compliance, legal retention, and perhaps most impactful of all, maintaining the talented staff capable of operating the existing backup and recovery technologies themselves. So how are manufacturing organizations rethinking their approach to modern backup strategies?

In most instances, it’s probably not what you would think. Manufacturers and IT leaders realize that their ability to execute backup services isn’t a core competency. It also recognizes the increased relevance of a backup strategy that works when needed most. 

As a result, manufacturing companies are shedding their on-premises backup offerings in favor of backup as a service (BaaS). As with other as-a-service offerings, BaaS is constantly evolving by introducing best practices into the solutions, offering professional services, support a wide array of compliance and security postures, and better integrate with the heterogeneous hybrid environments most organizations now operate within.

Important Backup Considerations

With so many manufacturers moving into Microsoft 365, it’s essential to understand that backup and data protection in these environments are a shared responsibility. When you reference Microsoft’s service agreement, you will find that, “We [Microsoft] recommend that you regularly back up your content and data that you store on the services or store using third-party apps and services.” Add in user errors such as accidental deletions, insider threats, or ransomware, and you will find that backup services are a necessary part of your cloud strategy. Just moving your file and data storage into cloud services doesn’t absolve your organization from the responsibility of a thorough backup regimen.

Compliance and legal readiness are another set of considerations. Organizations must protect source systems and their backups concerning regulations like SOC2, ISO 27001, GDPR, and others on the compliance side. On the legal side, ensuring data retention matches industry and corporate policies, along with the ability to support e-discovery or legal events, is also crucial in the event your organization must comply with legal actions. The ability to effectively back up, protect all data, and recover when necessary is critical to meeting the complex challenges of operating within a global and regulated economy.

My favorite example often starts with, “But our business doesn’t have anything of value.” This statement couldn’t be more contrary to real-life business impacts and illustrates the short-sighted thinking of leadership. Just look to the JBS events in 2021, where one of the largest meat packaging manufacturers was hit with ransomware. The cybersecurity incident resulted in large-scale global production outages while also impacting 1/5 of the U.S. meat supply chain. According to an article in Bloomberg, “cybersecurity wasn’t considered a priority and didn’t show an immediate return on investment” to warrant outlays in the necessary preventative or responsive measures to protect the business. It’s an important lesson. Your business doesn’t need to have unique intellectual property or manufacture the most sophisticated technologies in the world to have your business, customers, or suppliers impacted by a lack of a robust and effective BCDR program.

Whatever manufacturing industry you operate within, it’s time to start rethinking how you invest in both defensive and reactive measures to security and insider threats, as well as to general failures that can impact business operations. Most manufacturers have pushed off these investments due to cost allocation, affordability, or short-term financial cost savings. Despite this position, it’s been repeatedly proven that all manufacturers will be impacted, and those impacts will cost far more than the initial investment.

Backup as a Service: Augment and Focus on What Matters

The good news is there are many options available to protect your tech estate. Modern cloud solutions exist that appeal to the more heterogeneous and legacy-based environment we see in factories, warehouses, and research. BaaS solutions can also span your hybrid environments, protecting physical plant machines, virtual machines, and other services in the cloud like AWS, Azure, Google, Microsoft 365, and more. Employees depend on all these technology resources, and the inability to turn to backups to quickly recover when needed will harm your business’s ability to execute.

Consequently, manufacturers are turning to backup as a service to reduce complexity, eliminate tech estate, and ensure they have access to secure and scalable backup solutions. With advanced automation and orchestration, organizations can effectively back up their hybrid landscape with greater visibility, price predictability, meet insurance or regulatory compliance requirements, and most importantly, access expert advice, services, and fast recovery times to keep their business operating when the unexpected strikes.

If your organization lacks experience or skillsets or is looking for staff augmentation, managed service offerings also bring expertise in devising an integrated backup and disaster recovery solution that fits your business needs. Many BaaS providers also offer services to aid in the ongoing operational activities around backup, monitoring, and recovery if a disaster strikes.

Backup as a service is quickly becoming an essential component as industrial transformation (IX) and technology adoption increase. Combine the financial and productivity impacts with effects on workforce morale, distractions from value-added activities, and impact on brand and deliverables, and your modern organization should be changing its view of business continuity and resilience risks. The risks are no longer realized in the off chance a weather event bears down on your facility—it’s now a combination of catastrophes, cybersecurity, unplanned failure or human error, and workforce disruption. To learn more about Connection’s Manufacturing Practice or to discuss the challenges associated with modern backup strategies, including backup as a service, contact us today.

Ryan Spurr is the Director of Manufacturing Strategy at Connection with 20+ years of experience in manufacturing, information technology, and portfolio leadership. He leads the Connection Manufacturing Practice, go-to-market strategy, client engagement, and advisory services focusing on operational technology (OT) and information technology that make manufacturers more digitally excellent.