Top Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Data Backup and Recovery Challenges


Data protection is all about the process of protecting organization’s vital data from compromise, loss, or corruption. It is basically a strategy that ensures that data is backed-up for safe-keeping and restored from the back-up when the need arises as a result of any form of compromise, loss, or corruption. For obvious reasons, as the volume of business data generated and backed-up increases, so do the value of the data to the business increases.

Several factors are considered necessary to truly achieve a modern industrial data protection solution. Especially as organization’s data volumes grow and proliferate, there is the need to ensure that the challenges listed below are taken into consideration in order to guarantee that ICS data storage and operational costs are lowered, continuous infrastructure availability is maintained, and that the critical rapid data recovery that is highly needed in the OT environment is achievable.

Lowering Cost Expectation

ICS organization’s data volumes are astronomically increasing yearly, and capacity and cost of technology for storage, backup and restoring of data are constantly improving. Therefore, there is the need for consolidation and to leverage these technology enhancements in CAPEX and OPEX cost reductions. Even as the storage and operating costs of modern data protection solutions exhibit drastic cost for value improvements.

It is evident that modern data protection solutions are simpler, more efficient, and more flexible. Additionally, modern data protection solutions provide self-service features and support multiple functions thereby reducing the burden on IT staff and eliminating the need for additional point solutions.


Better Performance and System Efficiency

Backup and Recovery windows are shrinking. As such, organizations need seamless, scalable, and efficient backup and recovery solutions that meet the demands for fast and efficient backup and recovery operations. Data protection is not just getting data from point A to point B faster and more efficient. The desired solution should address performance through consolidation of technology, scheduling and resource utilization management, and flexibility to meet various system’s Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs).

Some backup systems drain server and network resources, causing system slowness across the organization. This slowness results in reduced productivity and in some cases, it can even cause service disruptions.

Newer technologies should make backups much more efficient by performing backups much faster while demanding less resources from the infrastructure. Also, innovations in the incremental backup process have removed dependency on the back-up chains, so that an organization no longer needs to wait for several hours for all the back-up increments to be processed during a restore.

 Cloud Adoption and Integration Ready

Industrial organizations traditionally regard cloud as unsuitable and unsecured for ICS environment uses. ICS organizations are moving to adopt the use of cloud in their solutions as it has been proven secured, matured, and suitable for all business purposes.

Cloud has become a real game changer when it comes to data protection and long-term retention. However, some organizations are trapped in traditional back-up infrastructures that were never designed to embrace the cloud. Modern data protection solutions have support for cloud storage as it has been proven to be secure and matured for this purpose.

Simplified Administration

Most backup and recovery solutions are administered from multiple console interfaces. This is certainly cumbersome, un-productive, and error prone. Modern data protection solutions should have the ability to simplify the overall administration of data protection environments centrally managed from a single pane of glass.

Ideally, modern data protection system should have single-step upgrade/patches for all data protection components inside a single unit appliance. This feature will drastically reduce the time needed to maintain the overall data protection environment.


Reduction of Footprint

In today’s ICS data centre operations space, power and cooling are big factors for consideration. Modern data protection solutions that have minimal footprint in the data centre should be an excellent choice. Modern data protection solutions should be compact in size and low in energy consumption and emission and as a result, free up valuable rack space and demands on environmental power and cooling resources.

With a modern data protection system, ICS business organizations could free up several rows of highly valuable data centre rackspace occupied by legacy back-up systems and infrastructure.

Network Bandwidth Congestion

Most backup and recovery activities are designated to run only at off peak operations activities because of their impact on the network bandwidth. Solutions with modern data protection mechanisms that consider the limited nature of the network infrastructure are desirable. Just as most enterprise applications, backup and recovery solutions rely on network resources to function. This includes both LAN resources for local back-up and restore and WAN resources for DR and business continuity. Efficient data protection solutions should not deplete or overrun critical network resources and should not impact user connectivity and productivity.

By leveraging modern data protection mechanism, businesses could reduce their local and remote data protection bandwidth utilization by 98%. Reference link

Capacity Planning

ICS organizational data growth is unpredictable, and for organizations to keep-up with their data growth, most businesses end up embarking on capital projects to solving capacity shortage issue.

Backup and recovery solution data storage capacity should grow as the organizational data usage grows with limited or no interruption. Data backup storage capacity should be expandable without service interruption to meet the demands of unpredictable and dynamic storage growth.

Business Agility Due to Data Re-use

Data reuse that accelerates business processes is not readily available when accessibility to backup data takes so much time. Business agility can only leverage data re-use if stored data is readily available and when or where the stored data is not due to any form of incident, the backup and recovery solutions should provide quick, secure, and easy access to the back-up data.

Today’s data protection solutions should provide the ability to quickly, simply, and securely access and re-use data in the backup repository for multiple business use cases. This ability should enable lines of business and project teams to gain insights, accelerate business processes, and meet the demands of the market.

Summary Conclusions

Modernization of data protection is solution to the numerous data backup and data recovery challenges that are common today in most ICS Operational Technology (OT) environment. With so many data protection issues facing the ICS businesses using legacy back-up and recovery systems, it is high time ICS organizations started making smart strategic decisions to upgrade their data protection strategy. The highly needed decision will protect their data which is the lifeblood of their businesses.

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