It’s Time to Rethink Your Approach to Backup & Disaster Recovery

John Woolley

 

Different year, same problem: IT must do the same—or more—with less.

According to the Computer Economics IT Spending & Staffing Benchmark report, 52% of CIOs said their IT operational budget was adequate or more than adequate to support the business. However, 48% still considered it to be somewhat or very inadequate.  As operational budgets are not predicted to grow substantially, IT needs to re-evaluate their spend. Somewhere, something has to give. 

Of course, cutting back is never desirable, and, yes, slashing data management costs is particularly uninviting, as cut corners leading to prolonged downtime or information loss is a legitimate concern. But maybe most IT departments aren’t actually running as efficient as they could be. And maybe by taking a hard look at their budgets, they might actually get closer to that ideal.

Take backup and disaster recovery. Necessary evils, neither solution brings any intrinsic value to the business, but without them in place, any unexpected downtime or disaster is effectively ruinous. So heavy investment in each is commonplace. Two platforms. Two line items on the budget.

But, why? Why tolerate the time and expense of managing two different solutions when, with a few relatively minor exceptions, they both serve similar purposes? In the broadest sense, aren’t both backup and DR intended to act as reserves for when primary data is unavailable?

Some Backup and Disaster technology vendors are continuing to blur the lines in their solution sets to deliver a single solution platform. This is good news for those IT professionals in a refresh cycle who are trying to consolidate their spend and save operational costs. 

As a technology professional deploying data protection solutions, this is where I would put my efforts. With one solution it’s possible to failover your primary environment to a secondary for business continuity in the event of a disaster AND enjoy the immediate accesses of backup should you need to restore something comparatively smaller-scale, say, a missing document.

Can more savings be realised? Here are three initiatives that have saved expenditure on backup and disaster recovery over and above the technology consolidation.

  1. Look at the data volumes and what you’re protecting. We are often protecting data that is stale. If it is required but accessed infrequently, think about somewhere else to put it.  Archiving is a major topic, my advice however is make it a manual process via quotas, provide a low cost storage pool in WORM format. Once the data is written and protected you don’t need to backup it up further.  This has a dramatic saving for most.

  2. Disaster Recovery isn’t just about the data centre. Savings in workplace recovery can be made with the clever deployment of the right IT clients. Think in recovery terms if the user population cannot access their end points, which often occurs in evacuations. How can we use older generations of technology in times of need? Do we really need physical workplace recovery? Could this be managed better? 
  3. Finally, if you’re going to make a change to your technology and strategy, consider deploying from a green field. Not worrying about backwards compatibility means you make clearer decisions on what is right. It is important at this stage though to plan for retrieving data from old systems either through application archiving or engaging a specialist that runs this sort of restoration service.

Protection is a process of continuous improvement. There are always costs that can be saved through careful planning, regular review and proper data management.

Where could you begin?

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