IT’s insurance plan against the cost of data loss
By Chris Poelker August 19, 2013
- Secure data is no good to employees or customers if associated systems and applications are not accessible
- Investing in the right technology ensures less downtime and minimum data loss, which impacts the bottomline
TODAY, data protection is no longer just saving information to a disk or tape, or even using another form of backup. Rather, data protection is part of the entire disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity effort.
Secure data is no good to employees or customers if the associated systems and applications are not accessible. A complete disaster recovery and data protection plan accounts for the restoration of complete IT services – systems, applications and data.
Think about it; if a company’s data centre went down, everything would grind to a halt. Customers would not be able to access data and services online, and employees could not complete their work. With every minute the business is not operating, millions of dollars could be lost.
IT management must strongly communicate to stakeholders the real dollar figures involved if an event were to occur, and the threat that comes with inadequate data protection and recovery capabilities.
IT has to identify its company’s risk tolerance level by asking how much downtime can the company afford – a minute, hour or day? From this information, IT can categorise each IT service, application and corresponding data as vital, moderate or non-essential and map it back to the business strategy.
It is also critical for IT to understand what components each of the critical services are dependent upon. If a company declares that its customer relationship management (CRM) system is extremely important, then IT must be aware of what databases and other components the CRM system is dependent upon to operate properly.
An effective DR and data protection plan is the organisation’s only insurance against the cost, productivity loss and business impact of data loss. In pursuing an efficient, complete recovery strategy, keep these tips in mind:
Data is an essential asset
Data is at the core of each company – it is the lifeblood of the company. It is imperative that the data and the applications on which it resides are fully protected.
IT managers must clearly explain to executives why an investment in data protection and automated DR technologies needs to be made, since it might not immediately contribute to a company’s bottom line or employee productivity.
It is an insurance policy against everything from losing an important file to an entire data centre flooding overnight.
For example, if a new automated solution will replace the current technology, making the quality of life for the IT staff better as well as ensure critical applications are highly protected, how can the cost be justified to accounting?
A win/win message must be communicated to executives and the finance department. For instance, “Yes, the solution does cost $X. It will enable IT staff to work less hours and it will save the company $Y in the long run while providing a much more robust recovery paradigm for the vital applications.”
Understand the cost of loss
To explain the need for DR and data protection services, clearly state what the cost would be if the entire IT infrastructure – or even one application such as email – were lost. The following chart shows how much revenue is lost per hour when IT applications and data cannot be accessed.
Choose the right technology
Most likely, your data centre already has some form of backup and protection in place in the form of tape or disk.
Improving your approach to data protection isn’t about eliminating tape or disk backup from your data centre. There is a place for each within your infrastructure.
Tape still works great for archival needs, but is not a good choice for rapid recovery needs. If you are using a traditional backup operation, you will need to manage 110 terabytes of tape media for every 20 terabytes of production data with a 2% change and 3% growth rate.
For companies with 100 terabytes of data, there is a need for 550 terabytes of tape, and the numbers continue to grow as the data expands. It is quickly and more cost-efficient over time to move tape backup into the archival storage layer of your infrastructure.
Therefore, the best solution for creating an effective rapid recovery plan is not to back up the data, but to continually protect it. Instead of moving data as a single daily bulk back up process, which impacts production and creates multiple bottlenecks, you’ll be able to protect every write or data change as it happens.
This ongoing process enables multiple immediate recovery points and less data loss. Recovery is also much faster from a disk.
Another way to think about it is the time needed to back up your data centre is equal to the capacity of all the application needing protection divided by the performance in terabytes/ hour of your current backup solution.
These performance metrics are based on the combination of all parts of the data path from network, backup server, storage and backup target, whether it is tape or disk. It is not the speed of the backup target, but how fast the data can be sent to it. It is generally understood that the traditional backup methods take twice as long to back up.
Continuous Data Protection (CDP), combined with server and storage virtualization, enables you to consolidate servers and simplify storage administration, while providing more cost-effective pooling and tiering of IT resources.
The technology combination of CDP and virtualisation also facilitates the automation of complex DR tasks and simplifies the process by automating the numerous steps of bringing multi-tiered applications back online.
CDP reconfigures the backup process by moving from more frequent periodic backup to always backed up, which means there is zero data loss.
When designing a holistic data protection strategy for your company, keep in mind that investing in the right technology will ensure less downtime in the future, keep data loss to an absolute minimum, and keep efficiency and productivity high.
All these positive improvements in IT will also positively affect the bottom line.
FalconStor’s vice president of Enterprise Solutions, Chris Poelker has decades of experience in companies like HDS, Compaq and Digital Equipment Corporation. Recently, he served as deputy commissioner of the TechAmerica Foundation Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in US Deployment of the Cloud (CLOUD²).
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