The Trouble with Backup and Recovery

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The Backup and Recovery Conundrum

The lack of a strategic approach to data backup and recovery is creating an enormous challenge for IT organizations.

When it comes to backup and recovery, the issue isn't the amount of data that needs to be managed but rather a general lack of policies and procedures to deal with it. In fact, the main culprit, according to a new Information Management Health Check 2010 study from Symantec, is that too many IT organizations are using backup software to create copies of every piece of data in the enterprise instead of distinguishing between data that needs to be backed up versus archived.


According to the survey of 1,680 worldwide IT organizations with 500 or more employees, less than half have any type of formal data retention plan. This creates a problem not only because of the potential of losing data, but also because it results in situations where the IT organization finds itself backing up all the data in the enterprise regardless of its value.


According to Danny Milrad, a senior product marketing manager for Symantec, this issue greatly contributes to elongated backup windows and extended data recovery times because of the mass of data that IT organizations are trying to back up. Instead, IT organizations need to take the time to determine what information needs to be archived for some potential legal reason, versus information that may need to be recovered in the event of a system failure.


The amount of data that needs to be regularly backed up, said Milrad, is relatively small given that most of the data that anyone is looking to recover is usually less than 72 hours old. The bulk of the data being backed up is there for archival purposes. And even less data would have to be backed up over the network if policies were put in place that allowed users to back up their personal data locally.


In general, the lack of a formal approach to data retention also leads to all kinds of legal hassles for IT executives. Now that everything in the enterprise can be found, the need to have a formal retention policy is critical because without it an IT executive can find themselves in uncomfortable position when it comes time to testify in a court case.


There's no doubt that the mass of information in the enterprise is starting to spin out of control. But rather than throwing more hardware at the problem or trying to move massive amounts of data to the cloud, IT organizations need to take an intelligent approach to backup and archiving. Much of that information can be more cost-effectively dealt with using archiving solutions rather than backup software that should only be used to recover an organization's mission-critical information. Everything else can go to the back of the proverbial recovery line.



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Aug 13, 2010 1:24 AM mmx-2010 mmx-2010  says:

The author states that

"When it comes to backup and recovery, the issue isn't the amount of data that needs to be managed but rather a general lack of policies and procedures to deal with it. In fact, the main culprit, according to a new Information Management Health Check 2010 study  from Symantec, is that too many IT organizations are using backup software to create copies of every piece of data in the enterprise instead of distinguishing between data that needs to be backed up versus archived."

I think that the data owners must tell IT how their data is to be handled

from the requirements phase, which is not the case.

However. the worst situation for a DBA is not being able to recover because "that" data is not backed-up. If such thing happens the DBA is fired.

Subsequently, IT ends up backing up everything .

It seems that the management is shy when the disaster recovery  [ aka

business continuity ] is discussed.  That's the root cause of  backup/recovery debacle. The management ( CIO, CEO, CFO ) is NOT

the leader on this issue, very often the management delegates it to IT. Strangely enough, the management is not delegating its responsibilities.

The IT should find solutions to implement corporate needs and not creating ad-hoc rules on-behalf and/or instead of the management.

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Nov 26, 2010 3:03 AM Michael Galvin Michael Galvin  says: in response to mmx-2010

I concur with MMX-2010. The issue is not "IT organizations" but corporate resistance to what seems to be an unnecessary expense or interference with their decision making overhead i.e. TMI and "not on my agenda." Of course, in my opinion this is potentially a catastrophic misjudgment because it is the proverbial short-sighted framing of the problem without giving sufficient weight to risk-assessment on "what if's."

I do believe that IT providers need to educate CxO and other LOB owners on the necessity of a coordinated strategy on handling "information" going forward with respect to what should be backed up and what should be archived. This does require a significant deep dive into the weeds to properly define and tag "compliance" related information versus mission critical operational and transactional data.

As we all know, the universe of "information" is expanding by many orders of magnitude and will continue to do so geometrically. Getting a grasp on the process now will be more productive than waiting until there is an event that dictates e-discovery or disaster recovery.

The result will be lower cost in backup, less time, and quicker restore when the data set is not populated with massive amounts on non-germane items that are collected as part of an ad hoc back up response. The other factor is that those items that should be archived would be "discovered" in a cost effective manner when put on legal hold. This not only reduces the transactional time in e-discovery but could have a court viewing corporate cooperation favorably via the production of discoverable information in a timely manner.

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