March 10, 2023

Load shedding impacts data and backups

With load shedding here to stay for the foreseeable future, businesses need to adjust their IT strategy to accommodate for regular power cuts. The country's electricity supply has been unable to keep up with demand and ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure puts increasing pressure on the national power grid.

It seems likely that South Africans will continue to experience load shedding for the next few months, possibly even years. Business leaders, especially those responsible for technology and digital services, need to carefully consider their cyber strategy, particularly when it comes to data and back-ups.

Power cuts can lead to data continuity issues, such as the loss of unsaved data. This is particularly damaging when data centres or servers rely on the national electricity grid. For organisations that back-up to the cloud, it is important that regular processes and other critical functions are not held hostage to the load shedding schedule.

A combination of on-premise and cloud-based back-ups is the best way to ensure data continuity during load shedding. This can minimise the risk of data loss by ensuring that workloads are accessible, even if one server location is affected by load shedding.

Cloud back ups during load shedding

IT leaders can mitigate the risk of data loss during load shedding by using cloud-based backups. Inherent in its design, cloud-based software promotes data continuity and productivity. This is evidenced in unified communication software such as Microsoft Teams.

For example, if someone is working on an Excel document any changes are automatically saved if that document is stored on the cloud. As soon as data is entered, it is automatically stored and backed-up. At most, you run the risk of losing a few moments of work if the power goes off abruptly in the middle of the workday.

Using the cloud to back-up workloads during power outages is a good solution when the cloud service provider can operate reliably when the lights go out. The good news is that many cloud providers have redundant power and backup systems in place to ensure their services remain available even during power cuts. Microsoft allows you to continue working offline and saves everything to the cloud as soon as connection is reinstated

Most major cloud service providers, such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS), automatically back-up data to different locations. This means that even if one data centre experiences a power cut, workloads are still accessible and safe. These cloud service providers offer disaster recovery options that specifically cater for power cuts, automatically routing data to a new location if a server goes down - which is ideal for South African enterprises.

South African data centres

Data centres consume a lot of electricity. In 2020, it was estimated that data centres used around 2% of power generated worldwide. In South Africa, the majority of data centres are built with the energy crisis in mind. They are incorporating renewable energy as a way to offset the challenges posed by frequent power cuts in the country. There is an increased use of solar energy to ensure that South African data centres remain operational at all times.

Businesses that make use of on-premise data centres need to adopt a similar approach. It is essential that there is an alternative power source available so that business continuity can be ensured. All hardware related to the power source needs to be regularly monitored and maintained.

Power cuts can affect the performance and life span of batteries. In addition, data centres relying on solar need to regularly monitor the relevant hardware, ensuring that batteries are fully functional at all times.

Data security during power cuts

Maintaining data security during power cuts can be challenging especially when power outages disrupt internet and network connectivity. This can make it difficult to keep devices and systems up-to-date and secure. Here are some tips to help to maintain data security during power cuts:

  1. Use uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems or backup generators to keep critical devices, such as routers, switches and servers, running during power outages. This will help to maintain network connectivity, while continuing to monitor and manage systems remotely.
  2. Regularly update and patch software and devices to protect against known vulnerabilities and security threats. Use automatic updates where possible to ensure devices stay up to date even during power cuts.
  3. Be wary of phishing emails and other social engineering attacks that may happen during power cuts. Verify the legitimacy of any requests for sensitive information or financial transactions before taking action.
  4. Regularly backup data to a secure location, such as a cloud service or offline storage, to protect against data loss or corruption during power cuts.

The team of experts at SEACOM Business has extensive experience in data, cloud technology and enterprise connectivity in South Africa. For more information or to get a quote, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.


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