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Data protection – necessary evil or competitive edge?

Christopher Pestano, Technical Director, Data Resilience Solution of Hitachi Data Systems,Hitachi | July 27, 2016
Christopher Pestano discusses data protection and how it has become a necessary burden for most companies to stay competitive.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

In an age where we are all becoming increasingly obsessed with data; its protection has become a necessary burden for businesses.Investment in the applications, mass storage, backup processes and training required to keep this data safe is taking its toll on IT teams, that have little time to sift through data and assess what really needs to be backed-up and how, meaning for many companies the default approach is to simply backup everything.

However as data sources continue to grow, many are asking how to turn data protection from a run-the-business to a change-the-business process, and if this essential operation can be made more efficient and cost effective.

Information is a company's most important asset, but protecting this data is an expensive and complex process. We noticed that for every US$1 that a company spends to keep customer information, it spends at least US$4-6 to protect it. For many of today's organization's data protection is a form of costly but essential insurance; offering a guard against data losses that could damage brand reputation or leave them open to lawsuits.

Advances in technology over the last five years have produced a number of 'must have' enterprise solutions - server virtualization, Internet of Things, data analytics and software-defined data centers - each one bringing with it a new set of backup requirements and challenges. As a result, most companies have in place at least three backup solutions to manage their data protection needs.  

With IT budgets at best remaining the same while data handling and analysis continue to skyrocket, it is unsurprising that many companies are looking to reduce cost and optimize processes associated with data protection.

But where should they start? Here are a few things to consider:

Protection should add value

The cost of protection should be commensurate to the business value of the information. By clearly identifying what is critical, important and standard data, businesses can start to align processes with business requirements.

Why do you protect data in the first place?

  • For operational recovery - limited disaster such as data corruption
  • For disaster recovery - large scale disaster such as flooding or fire
  • For long-term recovery - to meet compliance requirements

This begins by understanding the different types of recovery and levels of data importance as shown in the below diagram:

For example, core banking systems which are critical to a bank's operation should employ hardware-based snapshots for operational recovery.  While this approach costs more, it is essential to allow recovery within minutes to keep the business going.  This would also minimize data loss and impact to users.  This fits in the top left-hand corner of the diagram.

 

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