08/08/2014

Managing human, physical storage and financial resources are forcing organizations to explore alternatives to their existing backup footprint and increase their disaster recovery (DR) capabilities. These trends provoke questions such as, “What is data protection?”, “Why do I need tape?”, “What is data archiving compared to backup?” and many other questions. Here, Involta outlines three common considerations to assist your organization on the journey to
data protection.

True Data Protection

Data protection is your total solution to safeguard your company’s data. This includes functions such as backup, archive, disaster recovery, and can even reach into the realm of logical, physical, and data security.

Is tape a thing of the past?

Organizations today are continuing to try and eliminate tape from their environments because of the risks associated with that platform like media life, transportation risks, and backup window times. So why do you still need tape? For many organizations the reason that tape is still kept in place is either a misunderstanding of their compliances, legacy decisions, misconception that it is less expensive than disk, or sometimes it is as simple as there being no business drivers like RTO/RPO (Recovery Time Objective/Recovery Point Objective) that dictate a different technology.

Data archiving compared to backup

When you talk about data protection, you have to start looking at the giant nebulous animal people once referred to as backup. The term ‘backup’ for a very long time was synonymous with retention, tape, and compliance. When you conduct a data assessment of your environment you can start to compartmentalize organizational needs and realize that backup is more about data protection – AND you can actually start to reduce cost instead of continuing to expand it.

For example, with a manufacturing organization governed by their compliances, they might be told to keep four years of data so it can be recovered in case of “X” situation. IT needs to request clarification from the business – is it the data that has to be available (information or data lifecycle) or do you actually have to retain tape backups (archive)? Additional clarification about what applications or systems need this particular compliance applied is required as well. These two points alone can make a huge difference in how IT must protect the business and identify the cost drivers.

More times than not, organizations have continued to treat their environments the same across the board – meaning that they are not addressing the information or data lifecycle (never remove old data), which means that they have four years of actual data, they keep 4 years of tapes (equaling eight years of data or more), and they do this for all of the platforms within their environment ($$$$$$$). This often amounts to HUGE dollars spent on infrastructure, services, and personnel to support an environment to protect everything the same.

If the business advises IT of its needs in detail and what truly needs to be protected, IT is able to provide a more complete service to their internal customers. So let’s revamp our scenario and see if this makes a difference. 

The business states the following parameters to IT:

  • Data must go back four years from their ERP application and they do not cleanse their data sets at this time (no record deletion)
  • The ERP application is made up of eight servers out of the 100 in the environment
  • The RTO is 24 hours with a RPO of 24 hours, with all other applications being 48 hours on both RTO and RPO
  • The data also needs to be taken off-site

With this information, you can determine that your data protection strategy can include a disk based solution without the need for tape archive and asynchronous replication of your disk based data protection solution to an off-site location is acceptable from an RTO and RPO perspective. Also, tiering of the environment helps to prioritize and organize how often the data gets transferred and how it is handled.

To ensure proper data protection, the situation must be assessed and defined appropriately. Data protection is an ever evolving creature, but an integral part of every organization’s success. 

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