Are you prepared for your next data disaster?

by Matthew Johnston, Area Vice President, ASEAN & Korea, Commvault

Just like the two Little Pigs who had their flimsy houses of straw and wood blown down one fateful afternoon by the Big Bad Wolf, many businesses today are still taking their chances with data disasters. Those two Little Pigs couldn’t have anticipated an attack from the Big Bad Wolf out of the blue, but had they decided to err on the side of caution and invest in a robust infrastructure like the third Little Pig who built his house out of bricks, they might’ve avoided their sorry fate.

Matthew Johnston, Area VP, Commvault

Only recently, a computer outage caused worldwide delays for thousands of passengers booked on Delta Airlines. There may have been bigger data disasters than the one Delta experienced in August when its IT system went down, but that didn’t stop the Twittersphere from coming alive with 140-character snapshots of human misery – as can be expected when so many passengers suddenly find their travel plans interrupted.

Despite Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian saying the company had over the past three years invested "hundreds of millions of dollars in technology infrastructure upgrades and systems, including backup systems to prevent what happened from occurring", the crisis cost the company $100 million in revenue due to 2,300 cancellations over three days. The long-term damage to Delta’s reputation and business will likely cost more. In the highly competitive aviation industry where airlines are already struggling with declining profit margins, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

Sadly, like the two Little Pigs, many companies across various industries lack solid data management strategies to protect themselves against such occurrences.

Here are some fundamentals of managing data so companies can prevent such crises and be more like the third Little Pig who was wise to have built himself a house out of bricks.

1. Data visibility

Today, businesses often maintain a separate point solution for each distinct backup and recovery requirement. However, data visibility is of paramount importance in order to understand what you have, where it is and how to recover it, when necessary.

Having full visibility of the data you have in storage is the foundation to an intelligent data management policy, adequate support governance and compliance, enabling you to execute on effective Copy Data Management strategies.

Unfortunately, according to an IDC study last year, 40% of IT decision makers across Asia Pacific reported that backup, recovery, data protection and analytics strategies are still managed at the departmental level[3]. Instead, businesses need a single unified, automated data protection platform that protects, archives and recovers all data so that they have the ability to prevent, and if needed, deal with catastrophic data disasters such as the one experienced by Delta Airlines.

2. Federate data for better governance

In today’s data universe, enterprises don’t just have a few data points and silos. To federate data is to seamlessly protect, recover, move, find and deliver apps and data spanning different infrastructures, and to also access and use data without having to move it.

Complying with an increasing number of compliance requirements in regulated industries is also a reality today’s businesses need to deal with. By having data federated under one corporate governance capability, businesses can better put auditable policies on data ensuring they comply with regulations.

3. Data security

While data can be a company’s biggest asset, let’s not forget that it also opens businesses to risk. According to IDC, 55% of enterprises will rely on third-party management of their security infrastructure by the end of 2017.

When building your ‘house of bricks’, it would be wise to prioritise security and employ a robust, encrypted lock on ‘your door’ in case the Big Bad Wolf decides to pay a visit. In a world of hacks, malware, ransomware and other threats (both internal and external), a sound security strategy means authenticating anyone who wants to access your corporate data, confirming that the person has access to the right data, and ensuring your most important data is encrypted and always protected.

Ensure your back-up and recovery architecture is “wolf-proof”

It’s true that data management is now more complex than ever. Enterprise data exists everywhere. No longer confined to the data centre, data is now stored not just on-premises, but also in the cloud and on endpoint devices. Enterprise data is also not uniform – existing in a range of data sources, file types, storage media, as well as backup modes — from snapshots to streaming.

Ultimately, Delta’s incident is a clear reminder that every business, across any industry, needs to be prepared against the potential impact of application outages and data loss. Data management is among the most vital of IT operations and this includes back-up and recovery – enterprise agility and availability are the lynchpins of success in today’s world.

A platform-centric approach that is open and can holistically address these fundamentals of data management will allow customers to streamline processes and operations, and therefore easily manage their data, eliminating downtime and workload impacts – thus avoiding the fate of the two Little Pigs.