The DataGuard Newsletter
May, 2004 - Premier Issue!
So Where is Your Data, Anyway?
Welcome to the premier issue of DataGuard, the Data Protection Newsletter. I decided to create this publication because we have been noticing more and more that many organizations are not doing enough to protect their most valuable asset - their data. Since our IT firm is located in New York City, you might conclude that 9/11 played a role in this and I would be lying if I said it didn't. However, most of the data loss stories I have heard from our clients over the last couple of years are far less dramatic, but still had dramatic negative impacts on their organizations.
In a recent survey conducted by Enterprise Storage Group, it was found that 52% of the respondents felt that their current backup/recovery solutions leave their data somewhat exposed. I personally believe that this percentage is way too low, especially for medium and smaller sized organizations. My gut tells me that at least 75% of small to medium sized businesses are at unacceptably high risk of losing critical data. That is a very scary statistic, especially when coupled with these chilling facts:
So what took you so long?
That's a fair question. I don't want to make excuses, but I believe it is because it wasn't until relatively recently that data protection strategies became indispensible. Changes in information technology over the last 5 years have finally made implementing data protection solutions mandatory, not optional.
We have now come to rely much more heavily on data (notice I didn't say computers), especially since the rise in business use of the Internet that started around 1996. Email and the web have completely changed the way we work and communicate.
Storage device capacity has increased exponentially, both satiating and fueling our need to store more and more information. Like drug addicts, we have become more and more reliant on digital information. (How many emails do you have saved? Who even had email 10 years ago?!) Databases and even Microsoft Office documents have grown in size, complexity and importance to the day-to-day operations of our organizations. And events like 9/11 and the blackout in the Northeast have made us painfully aware of the bad things that can happen to critical information and the availability of that information.
Finally, do not discount the effect that fiascos like Enron and resulting legislation have had on the need to retain and protect data. I am sure that those of you in the financial services business have heard of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), just as those in the health care industry have heard of HIPAA. These two pieces of legislation are having a dramatic effect on how these respective industries handle data.
The days of having only a simple tape drive/tape rotation system to protect our data are over. Data protection has now become very complex. I will explore these complexities and try to explain them in simple, practical and concise terms in this and future issues.
Before you can design and implement an effective data protection plan, you have to know where the data is. This seems so basic, you are probably wondering where I am going with this. Read on.
The refrain to Joni Mitchell's song "Big Yellow Taxi" always comes to mind when I get on this topic:
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
( My knowing that this song was written by Joni Mitchell and not by Counting Crows shows my age :)
Most everyone knows that important data resides on the hard drives installed in a file server and take at least some basic precautions (a tape drive?) to protect that data. But our experience has shown that most people have given little or no thought to protecting data that resides elsewhere. For that matter, many of those that have experienced data loss had no idea that the lost data even existed or was important until after it was gone.
Here is a list of places where data critical to your organization may reside:
Be honest, did you realize that critical data resided in all of these places? I am sure I missed a few, but you get the picture. Critical data is not just on your file server and you will need a lot more than a tape drive to protect it. But the real point is, you need to know where critical data resides before you can devise systems to protect it.
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