By Tom Fedro
As storage and data management demands continue to grow year after year, sales of storage and disaster recovery software have undergone dramatic growth as well. Just about every company today relies on systems and data management software for efficient operation and data protection. Although the first mention of this kind of disaster recovery technology occurred in the 1970s, it wasn’t for decades that the importance was fully realized. Back then, technology really wasn’t intertwined with a company’s operations the way it is now. Today, most companies would find it strange to think of technology processes and business operations as independent, the way we find it strange when we watch a TV show from the 1980s and see people using pay phones instead of smart phones.
Although technology is still advancing at breakneck speed, the data protection industry is essentially mature, and a number of companies fight for market share. When a business decides to determine which solution is correct, there are some important considerations that need to go into the decision-making process. First and foremost, they need to conduct a needs assessment / analysis.
Too often, this step is skipped. Companies tend to examine what’s available and make choices based on the four or five alternatives they come across. That’s the wrong way to do business. The smartest people in the world make mistakes like this one, but they shouldn’t! There are a couple of cardinal rules about shopping at the grocery store that come to mind – First, never shop hungry; you end up overbuying. In the same manner, don’t wait for a crisis to buy your disaster recovery software; you’ll end up buying more than you need in most cases.
The second rule: shop with a list. Without a list you end up buying food you don’t need and you forget items that should be in the cart on the way to the car. In the world of technology, your list is called a needs assessment. Sit down with your tech department and your operations team to figure out what you need. Here are some conversation starters.
- How much data can we afford to lose in a given period of time? One week? One day? One hour? This answer will tell you how regular your backups will need to be, and thus how important the ease of backup and the interruption the procedures cause will become to your decision making.
- How reliant on the systems is each department? It’s possible your inside sales department could handle a few hours of downtime. On the other hand, it might cripple your accounting department. When you’ve got all the information, you not only have criteria to determine purchasing based on restore times but also a blueprint for which departments should receive first attention from your IT department in the event of catastrophic failure.
- Which particular elements of the system or the data are most critical? If your employees have a dramatic need for email but not other documents, you’ll want software that can provide tools for partial and immediate restoration of that critical information (commonly called granular restore) while the rest of the system comes on line.
Don’t fall into the “Ready, Fire, Aim!” trap. Make your technology decisions like you make other business decisions. Identify the correct solution first. Then go out and get it.