People 'n' Issues

Data as strategic asset

May 12th, 2016
Time is money, but nowadays so is a company’s data. That is why protecting data should be a major priority, especially when it comes to customer’s requirement, says JOHAN SCHEEPERS, Systems Engineer Director - MESAT at Commvault.
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In an increasingly digital world where it is no longer only time that is money, but information as well, data has become the equivalent of a new currency. Protecting this data is a top priority for businesses of all sizes. However, in tandem with the growing importance of data, we are also witnessing an ongoing data explosion, with huge data volumes created at high velocity. This is changing customers’ requirements when it comes to data protection and data management, and organisations need to adopt a comprehensive approach to data protection for today and into the future. Data is a strategic business asset, and should be treated as such with effective data backup, protection, recovery and management solutions designed to address new data challenges.

Data backup and recovery has become a business imperative, and the importance of implementing effective solutions cannot be overstated. In fact, data is top of mind for the majority of organisations. According to analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) in the 2014 annual IT Spending Intentions report, the top three most important IT priorities for 2015 centred on data. The top priority for businesses according to the report was information security initiatives, with improving data backup and recovery coming in second, and managing data growth at number three. In addition, business continuity and disaster recovery were the eighth priority for respondents.

The bigger picture of these statistics is that protecting data is of vital importance, even more so than investment into solutions such as the cloud and other production-enabling deployments. Backup remains one of the most significant IT investments, because the reliance of business on data and IT systems is ever on the increase. This means that any downtime or data loss could be detrimental to business operations. In addition, legacy approaches to backup simply cannot meet the diverse and evolving needs of modern IT platforms, necessitating continued investment into backup solutions. However, backup alone is no longer sufficient. Organisations need to increase the agility of data protection infrastructure by incorporating supplementary data protection capabilities such as snapshots, replicas and archiving as well as high availability, disaster recovery and business continuity.

These data protection mechanisms each provide a different type of agility that compliments backups rather than replacing them, ensuring a comprehensive solution to data recoverability. However, it is also important to bear in mind that it may not be necessary to apply these various mechanisms with a blanket approach across the entire organisation. For example, while backup is essential across the board, snapshots, replicas and archives are only necessary for business critical data. Given the increasing volumes of data being generated and the cost of implementing new solutions, it is important to apply data protection mechanisms based on the value of data to the business as well as the requirement for availability.

This hybrid approach to data protection is highly effective in today’s world. However, where many organisations go wrong is in attempting to address each of these mechanisms with a separate, disconnected technology. The end result is typically significantly higher cost along with increased complexity. In addition, often such disparate solutions fail to meet the business’ need for comprehensive, improved protection and agility of data recovery, because they simply cannot integrate effectively. Organisations should look for integrated solutions that incorporate multiple mechanisms of data protection within a single platform. This ensures a single point of management, while providing one overall data protection strategy that aligns with the recovery and data needs of the business. By treating data as a strategic asset and protecting it as such, organisations can ensure their data is available and managed today and in the future.

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