Celebrating World Backup Day!

By Paul Sanford - March 31, 2021

Today, we’re joining people around the world to recognize World Backup Day! This holiday encourages both businesses and individuals to “not be an April Fool” and build good data backup habits. To celebrate, we’re sharing a look at how we approach backups at Sisu.

Shifting to digital: Risk, rewards, and the need for backups

Over the last 15 years, we’ve digitized much of our personal and professional lives — from photos, home movies, and correspondence with loved ones to important documents like leases and loan paperwork. Over the same time period, many companies have moved their critical documents and data from on-premises storage to cloud databases and data warehouses.

While digitizing our lives and our company data removes problems like photos yellowing or documents fading, it’s not without risk. Fire and flood can ruin a hard drive just as readily as a photo album, a burglar can carry off a hard drive more easily than a safe, and a thumb drive can slip out of a pocket much quicker than a folio full of paperwork. And while cloud storage providers have become increasingly more affordable, companies still risk deletions that are often permanent. They also tend to encourage “pruning” unneeded files, which can lead to accidental data loss. That’s why it’s critical for individuals and businesses to build healthy habits of backing up and protecting their data.

Backing up and protecting customer data at Sisu

At Sisu, our mission is to operationalize the world’s data. With decision-makers at top companies around the world trusting Sisu’s ML-driven insights, it’s critical not only that Sisu doesn’t go down, but also that we can ensure the integrity and availability of our data. That’s why Sisu stores operational data with one of the most trusted cloud providers in the world: Amazon Web Services (AWS). We back up this data daily, and if there’s ever a problem — from something as small as a customer deleting something by mistake to as large as an entire AWS region going offline — we have well-documented, battle-hardened processes for restoration.

While backups are commonplace, one key activity that’s often left out of the conversations around backups is backup testing. At Sisu, we have a regular schedule on which we test our backups. We work through a disaster recovery scenario, pretending our live data has become inaccessible. We go through our disaster recovery plan and restore data from backup to a staging instance, treating it as if we were responding to a production outage. This simple exercise tests several things in our backup system:

  • Backups are occurring at the frequency we expect.
  • Backups are capturing the correct scope of data – newly-added information stores aren’t being left out.
  • Our backup restoration process still functions as expected and is properly documented.
  • Backups are retained in storage for as long as expected.
  • Our backups are accessible without unexpected roadblocks (such as cost, restoration time, or other exigent factors).

This type of exercise is essential for the Sisu team to ensure we can continue providing the service in the face of extraordinary circumstances. That said, in the spirit of World Backup Day, these steps can also be useful for individuals: friends don’t let friends go without a backup! Setting up backups is a great first step, but for real peace of mind, it’s worth taking some time once a year or so to make sure to test that your backups are working. Don’t be an April Fool!

Backups are just one piece of Sisu’s comprehensive security program. To learn more, view our security page, and if you’re interested in helping to continually strengthen our process, we’re hiring for an Engineering Manager for Security and Compliance.

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