Tech Download with Jim Griffiths: Enterprise Data Protection Solutions

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Organizations deal with massive amounts of data everyday, and finding a reliable, cost-effective way to protect that data can be one of the largest challenges that IT pros face. This month for Tech Download, we turned to Jim Griffiths to provide an overview of Enterprise Data Protection Solutions, and how organizations can ensure the security of their valuable data without breaking the bank.


Q: What is enterprise data protection?

Jim: An enterprise data protection solution is how we describe a company or organization’s plan for protecting their data. It incorporates backup, disaster recovery, and cloud. A data protection solution should have three essential components:


  • #1 is Protection: having a backup is your first line of defence to make sure your data is safe.
  • #2 is Offsite Copy: it’s important to keep a copy of your data backed up offsite. Disasters can be environmental or caused by equipment failure, but often result from human error.
  • #3 is Disaster Recovery – It’s important to have a copy of your critical data and applications available at a remote location so that regional problems can’t affect it. If the main location of a company is down or data is lost, then recovery of systems and data is critical to keep the company running. Recovery of data and applications in the event of data loss, a system outage or a disaster is part of the bigger role of Business Continuity Planning (BCP) – that may be a different topic for a different day.


Q: So how should companies begin developing a data protection plan?

Jim: There are a few things you, or your IT department, need to assess when you’re making your data protection plan.

  1. Categorize your data – is it Critical, Important, Regular or low priority?
  2. How much data can you afford to lose in the event of an outage – to what point does data need to be recovered? We call this the Recovery Point Objective (RPO).
  3. How quickly do you need to recover your data? We refer to this as the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).
  4. How long will you need to keep your data? Consider work use and compliance requirements, and determine what data needs to be archived.

Once you’ve answered these questions and determined the priority, recovery point, and recovery time and longevity of your data, you’re ready to make a data protection plan.

Backing Up and Recovering Data

The most important part of a backup isn’t actually the backup–it’s the recovery.


If you create a backup of your data but then you can’t access it in a timely manner, what’s the point?


In the past, if an organization needed to back up its data, it would use tapes to store data, and a company specializing in data storage would be paid to collect and store the tapes at an off-site location. In the event of disastrous data loss, the organization would pay the data storage company to have the data transported back to them and restored. Recovery would involve crossing fingers, restoring from volumes of tapes hoping that the restoration would be complete and that the restored systems would work properly. The massive amounts of data that organizations handle everyday means that the tape system of backing up data becomes inefficient very quickly, as the data storage, recovery, and the physical tapes themselves are all costly.

If you create a backup of your data but then you can’t access it in a timely manner, what’s the point?


Now, technology has changed – backups are often made not to tape, but to disk storage. The volume of data that companies must protect has increased, and the same problems remain – how to back up the data quickly, how to get it offsite to protect against disaster and as part of a Business Continuity Plan, and how to restore quickly to get the company’s operations up and running again.


These days, rather than backing up data to tapes and moving them offsite (and returning them back onsite as needed), the tape layer has been replaced by the cloud – data from systems is backed up to disk system, a second copy is usually kept on another disk system for additional protection, and a copy of backed up data is send periodically to a cloud backup provider.


This eliminates the additional expense and time required to pack and ship tapes and find and ship them back for restores. It requires some additional thinking and planning around data classification, RPO, RTO and Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity.


FoxNet can help to provide a complete Data Protection Solution for customers that can incorporate backup and recovery to disk, tape and cloud, as well as Disaster Recovery as part of a larger Business Continuity Plan.