Whistling past the graveyard ≠ Data protection

graveyard black and white
Credit: wallpaperose.com

There was a popular saying among a certain group of folks I once knew: If one person tells you you’re drunk, have another drink. If a second person tells you’re drunk, have another drink. If a third person tells you you’re drunk, go home.

What this has to do with business IT came in the form of three recent, entirely separate vendor-sponsored surveys that came to similar conclusions about the tipsy state of data protection:

  1. On December 1, Zetta.net announced the results of its survey of bare metal restore (BMR). While over a third of participants had used BMR, nearly half (48%) reported significant problems, including driver failure (24%), corrupt backup (35%), dissimilar hardware (36%) and other difficulties, such as tape driver problems and related issues (3%).
  2. The following day, Vreeam released the results of its 2014 data center availability report noting that 82% of CIO respondents said they are unable to meet their organizations’ needs for application and data availability. Application downtime occurs more than once a month, costing enterprises between $1.4 million and $2.3 million annually in lost revenues, decreased productivity and missed opportunities. Moreover, one in six backup recoveries fail, meaning that data will be permanently lost at least twice per year, costing a minimum of $682,000 annually.
  3. That same day, EMC announced the results of its new Global Data Protection Index (conducted by Vanson Bourne) which found that data losses have increased by 400% since 2012, nearly three quarters (71%) of organizations are not fully confident in their ability to recover after a disruption. While over half of respondents (51%) lack a disaster recovery plan for emerging technologies, like cloud, big data and mobile, (and just 6% have a plan for all three), 30% of all respondents’ primary data is located in some form of cloud storage, compounding their risk exposure. The EMC study estimates the annual, global cost of data loss and downtime is a staggering $1.7 trillion or about half of Germany’s GDP. [Disclosure: Pund-IT has a consulting relationship with EMC.]

Whistling past the graveyard

It isn’t often that you find three separate vendor surveys in such close alignment but that’s especially true concerning a subject so deeply ingrained as data protection. Why is that the case? Because data is the beating heart of business and IT processes. Without access to critical information, companies grind to a halt.

In addition, the precepts of data protection have been common for decades, and typically align with the legalities and regulatory requirements of data compliance. Businesses understand these points (or at least their lawyers do). There are also plenty of world-class data protection/recovery/availability solutions out there. In fact, along with fully mature offerings from major vendors, numerous smaller players offer products for specific processes and use cases.

But according to the Zetta, Vreeam and EMC studies, those solutions are often being ineffectively deployed or even ignored. Why so? That’s harder to say though perhaps it’s simply disaster fatigue. At one time, data protection and recovery dealt mainly with unforeseen natural events and related infrastructure outages, like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods that can damage facilities or bring down electrical grids.

That’s still the case but modern businesses also have to deal with a host of other dangers, including increasingly organized hacker attacks, data theft often sponsored by rogue states and the complexities of securing mobile devices. It doesn’t take long for the stuff of data center professionals’ worst nightmares to morph into unrelieved exhaustion. However, whistling past the graveyard can hardly be considered the means for creating an effective plan for avoiding data loss and downtime.

Final Analysis

Most IT organizations are under constant budgetary pressure (some would say under siege). But the implicit challenges of emerging big data, mobile and hybrid cloud workloads and the increasingly complex and dangerous threat landscape aren’t going away. So it’s time for IT and management to face the reality of what slipshod data protection and resulting downtime are costing their organizations in terms of money and time lost.

As Zetta, Vreeam and EMC’s new studies suggest, the party is over for shoddy, ineffective data protection. A problem that’s already bad and likely to get worse will never improve unless the people responsible straighten up, soberly assess the situation and get to work. In other words, it’s time to “go home” and effect serious change from within.

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