Keeping Money in the Bank: Managing Data Protection in Today’s Data-Driven World

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TOM O'BRIEN<br/>IBM TivoliTOM O'BRIEN
IBM Tivoli

Tom O’Brien is the product manager for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. Tom is focused on partnering with customers, sales and development to bring new functional enhancements and new product offerings to market.

The sheer volume of data continues to grow. This isn’t new; data has been growing for quite some time. What is new about data growth is the complexity, volume and value of data have changed dramatically. Data is becoming more complex; more capacity is being generated from an increasing number of sources (cloud, social, mobile, etc.).

The number of sources has driven the volume of data and data growth faster than ever before. While the complexity of data and the volume are increasing, so is the value of data to the business. Data is now the lifeblood of the business; it’s a business’ most valuable asset and the expectation is that it’s highly available and accessible.

New Data Trends

Global Data Availability, where data is highly available, accessible and resilient, is the new expectation. The challenge is how to provide Global Data Availability to drive efficiency in the face of all this data growth.

In many ways, stored data can be the best currency an organization has to offer. But like all other investments, this comes at a price, as many organizations must devote money and time to protecting their data. If the company’s data protection plan is inefficient, things could get costly. Along with rapid data growth, inefficient data protection systems are also impediments to efficiency and budgets.

Data Protection is Significant

Modernizing data protection technology can be an excellent way to save money and free up funds to invest in new ideas. But to take advantage of these savings organizations have to look beyond traditional methods of data protection.

At its core, data protection is an IT process, and small improvements can have a big impact on the value IT brings to the organization. Just as today’s businesses have to be more interconnected and intelligent to collect, process, use and store more data than ever before, there are now cost effective ways to protect data which leverages cloud, security and open standards.

Despite this more connected world, cost is still king. In our experience with enterprise clients managing their data protection needs, there are eight best practices which can help businesses re-asses their approach to data protection and reap the beneficial rewards.

  1. Data deduplication – One way organizations can save money on data protection is by implementing cost-effective, high-performance and easy-to-use data deduplication for all data protection workloads. There are many choices to consider; deduplication which can operate on backup servers, source systems, and dedicated deduplication gateways or appliances. When considering deduplication with backup software, in order to control you costs, look for solutions that include this as a based feature and not an additional charge.
  2. Incremental “forever” backups – Most backup software requires periodic full backups to maintain restore performance, creating unnecessary work for backup infrastructures. One way to reduce costs is by implementing incremental forever backups, which take less time and require less infrastructure. Incremental forever means no more full backups for fast-growing VMware environments and file systems.
  3. Flexible deployment options – Another way organizations can save money is through flexible deployment options which offer choices regarding how much of their data protection infrastructure they want to own, and how they want to pay for it. For example, cloud and appliance-based solutions can reduce the cost and complexity of data protection while enabling users to switch systems quickly, sometimes in less than a day.
  4. Simplified administration – Implementing a solution to automate and simplify data protection administration increases efficiency and reduces reliance on IT experts, all while ensuring data security is not at risk. Organizations should look for a solution which enables nontechnical users to see — at a glance — whether data is protected, in turn helping administrators resolve problems faster.
  5. Cloud data protection – Organizations are quickly moving to cloud-based storage. By implementing a cloud data protection solution, organizations can take full advantage of cloud environments to improve staff efficiency and support multiple service classes, ranging from daily backups to frequent snapshots to remote mirroring, as well as accommodate flexible billing plans.
  6. Massive scalability – You want a solution that can grow as your data grows, making scalability key. By implementing a comprehensive backup and recovery solution to support your organization at any size, you’ll have more efficiency and save on costs, as backups will be consolidated and there will be no need to purchase more servers to account for data growth.
  7. Open standards – Look for vendors that adopt and contribute to open standards. Collaboration through open standards is known to reduce costs and speed innovation, providing direct value to organizations. Open standard interoperability between software and hardware vendors enables heterogeneous snapshots, prevents vendor lock in, and enables remote mirroring and other storage management functions to work across all storage systems. Additionally, as many countries have data protection regulations, adopting open standards enables easier compliance.
  8. Single-vendor solutions – Consider implementing a complete set of solutions to meet data protection needs. Purchasing all technology components from one vendor enables IT staff to spend less time managing multiple vendors, integrating multiple products and managing support calls between vendors.

By leveraging these best practices, organizations can spend more time on innovation and less on managing inefficient infrastructure. Evolving with and embracing technologies such as cloud or open standards can be the little tweaks which enable a smarter data protection program. With the door now open to new possibilities and resources, data protection challenges can be a thing of the past.

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  1. One of the most common causes of data getting in the wrong hands is the loss of mobile devices that often contain a frightening amount of private information. I want to share a protection option that worked for me. Tracer tags (mystufflostandfound.com) let someone who finds your lost stuff contact you directly without exposing your private information. I use them on almost everything I take when I travel like my phone, passport and luggage after one of the tags was responsible for getting my lost laptop returned to me in Rome one time.