All over the world, companies are losing millions of dollars because of data loss and unexpected downtime.  This is a result of the majority of businesses being behind the times with respect to their data protection and restore plans, not to mention failed backups, and various compliance requirements being put on companies.  All of these factors require CIOs to take a deeper look at their current backup environments to ensure they are not throwing money out the window when it comes to their plans.  Below you will see the areas CIOs need to become acquainted with in order to gain a better understanding of their backup environments.

The Truth of the Matter Is… Backups Do Fail

No matter how high the success rate, unless there is a 100% success rate, administrators are going to be spending loads of time looking for reports which will help to identify what went wrong.  Despite highly improved systems with respect to the backup process, everyone out there will go through a large number of backups that will fail or otherwise perform poorly.  Also, many companies do not use their resources well and ultimately are unable to gain access to data once it’s lost.  This information -in the midst of the fact that data keeps growing and stricter regulations are gaining force – is creating the well-known “backup problem.”

What is essential to all businesses nowadays is a tool which assists with reporting and managing needs, as well as offers a whole picture of the backup sphere.  Though expensive, this tool would serve businesses well in the long run.

Key Areas that Are Essential to Senior Management

Data Protection: Primary Vs. Secondary Storage

Secondary storage houses an incredibly large amount of data, and this is mainly due to the fact that the majority of secondary storage is backup data that is being stored.  Most of this type of storage is tape-based, resulting in a large volume of space.  Because the amount of secondary storage is growing at an alarming rate, many are encouraging companies to reconsider how they store data in the long-run.  What is ultimately needed to help solve the growing problem of secondary storage is a tool which is able to archive and adapt over time, as well as incorporate various versions of technology.  The ability to scale, automate, and manage the system well are key areas that this tool must implement in order to meet the demand as a better storage solution.

Resource Management: Staff Productivity

It is a true statement that most failures in relation to backup have nothing to do with the vendors, but rather with the reliance that the process has on the network, server, and the storage and application layers.  This reality makes figuring out the root of the problem like trying to find a needle in a haystack!  

Most of the data protection market unfortunately zeros in on backing up data stored in the data center.  And, even though policies may be in place regarding where data can and cannot be stored, employees will STILL store sensitive data on local drives.  This makes trying to protect company data that much more difficult, as data becomes wide-spread.  Another layer of difficulty in protecting data has to do with the heavy use of mobile devices.  This is not only because it is an added device, but also because the environments and contexts constantly change.  What administrators need are tools to help manage the backup process of all nodes.  This would help the appropriate people successfully manage not only PCs, workstations and laptops, but also mobile phones and tablets as well!

Another demand exists in this the realm of management, and it has to do with resources.  Many question if the proper investment is being made in order to fully protect data.  The importance of having a tool that helps with understanding what resources are being used and where the problems are is vital to the success of management and the overall health of the company.

Budgeting and Asset Management

Have you ever heard of IT chargeback?  If not, you are in for a real treat!  It is essentially a way to bill users for only the things they use in relation to services that have to do with network usage and backups.  This tool helps businesses efficiently manage their finances in an area where over-expenditure can be a very real possibility.   Often times businesses find themselves in trouble with extravagant storage costs, and they aren’t aware of how to fix it.  With IT chargeback, this information comes to the forefront, granting departments not only the awareness of how many services they are using, but also what they are being charged for and who is using what.  It is an excellent tool to help track the output of finances towards IT needs.

Compliance and Service-Level Agreements

It is a clear reality that as security risks increase, government regulations increase as well.  There are so many threats out there today, and technology is growing and changing on a minute-by-minute basis, so it really is no wonder about the increasing requirements.  With respect to compliance, virtualized servers need to be equally as secure as the physical ones.  Keep in mind, networks applications, databases, and storage and security systems operate in a constantly functioning environment.  In other words, they never sleep!  This fact makes it difficult to manage a backup window that is appropriate.  

Data is growing at the speed of light, and so is the need for greater protection and backup management.  Everything within these spheres is getting more complex as time goes on as well, which doesn’t make trying to manage or protect them any easier!  Because of the increase in regulations, tools are being developed that will offer continuous data protection, such as disk-based backups and cloud alternatives.  

Large companies require a report to be shared known as an “SLA” or “Service Level Agreement.”  This report identifies the success rate of the backup process, and offers other information such as what nodes are backed up and their timeframe, that no node will miss being backed up several days in a row.

Conclusion

Even though primary storage producers have traditionally paved the way, there are now many out there offering tools to assist with the current needs in relation to backup reporting and management.  There is still a heavy need for tools that can handle the amount of digital information coming our way.  With the tidal wave of data coming, companies need a resource that will adequately prepare them for best how to manage the influx.

 

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Image: Roger Ahlbrand

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