Reliability and Durability Are the Foundation at Axcient
When we considered how to express Axcient’s mission, we landed on Cure Data Loss because we saw how devastating incidents could be to MSPs and their clients. Like a terrible disease, data loss can have complex or opaque causes, with issues sometimes lying dormant until the worst possible moment. The worst causes of data loss are discovered during a recovery attempt when it’s too late to take corrective action. A complete cure is an ambitious goal, yet one we believe is attainable and worth investing tremendous effort to achieve.
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Engineering a Solution to Protect Against Data Loss
Our engineering approach for this mission needs a rock-solid foundation in reliability and durability. Engineering for proper data integrity is a science, and like security, it requires many layers of engineering to mitigate causes of data loss when operating at scale. Physics and time constantly present challenges that introduce errors through the failure of individual hardware components (MTBF), “bit rot” of data stored on physical media (e.g., storage devices have uncorrectable bit error rates of 1×10-15), and the failure of entire storage backplanes, enclosures, cables, HBAs, RAM, head nodes, and the like. Software failures at every level must also not be overlooked, both in terms of the potential for damaging or destroying data as well as impacting the availability of data, which is just as vital for recoverability and business continuity.
Over 17 years of successful cloud operations, we’ve built the engineering expertise and processes to solve for these, and to anticipate what’s coming next. Our cloud is engineered to provide at least 10 to 11 “nines” (99.99999999%) of durability in all cases.
The chance of a data loss event for a system in our cloud in any given year is calculated to be about 1 out of 10 billion.
We also isolate layers of our cloud responsible for different parts of the backup and recovery process, building for fault tolerance and restricting the reach and impact of each layer. Behind the scenes, we also enforce compartmentalization of data to further limit the scope of any unanticipated issue.
Data Securing Features and Practices
In all cases, our AirGap technology provides further protection against accidental or malicious data deletion, ensuring that any deleted data first passes through a safety archive for weeks and that backup recovery points are. AirGap cannot be turned off and protects every system in our cloud from its very first backup.
Reliability and durability are not just technical requirements, though. Multiple layers of physical security tightly restrict physical access to all Axcient data center systems, and access is granted on a need-to-have basis, as documented in our SOC 2 Type II report. We also have careful controls for data lifecycle management, including rigorous controls over the deprovisioning of equipment that has reached the end of its lifecycle.
Even data that is durable and secure is only useful if it leads to a full recovery. To this end, we invented and delivered our patented AutoVerify technology, which automates the adaptive testing of backups to check for data recoverability, data integrity, filesystem integrity, OS integrity, bootability, and application health within booted environments. AutoVerify is automatically on for every system and requires zero configuration. This feature provides proof that data has both been captured and that the business would be ready to fully recover and continue operations after any incident.
Our Security Controls
Given the rise of ransomware and supply chain attacks, we also enforce a “zero trust” model for supply chain security of our software to mitigate the risk of unintended changes to our products from any source, regardless of location. This includes strict controls over source code changes, software builds, software deployments, and software agent capabilities. We also conduct regular pen testing with third-party experts. External authority SecurityScorecard has ranked us as high as 96 (A) in recent evaluations, among the highest scores for backup and disaster recovery vendors.
Despite how far we’ve come, our pursuit of excellence will never be done, so we’re investing continuously to make our MSPs and their clients more resilient against data loss every day.
“We have one job—don’t lose data and provide proof that it’s recoverable.” – Kevin Hoffman
It’s the right mission, but when Cure Data Loss seems too abstract to the team, I boil it down: “we have one job—don’t lose data and provide proof that it’s recoverable.” We have almost two decades of success and documented continuous improvement for MSPs and their clients, and we’re committed to maintaining that tight focus.
About the Author:
Kevin Hoffman // Founder & CTO, Axcient
Kevin is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Axcient. In 2002, John Williams, George Welborn, and Kevin Hoffman saw the opportunity to reinvent data protection and became pioneers in bringing transformative cloud services to the IT channel. Kevin brings over 20 years of experience solving business challenges with software and cloud technology through a values- and team-centric approach.
He earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Purdue University. His published research includes work on memory programming models, language theory & runtimes, aspect-oriented programming, software modularity, dynamic software analysis, automated debugging, and reputation systems. Beyond work, he is a family man and has avid interests in piano, cycling, skiing, and physics.
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