Can You Really Afford Reliable Data Protection?

Part 2 in a series of posts about Data Protection as a Service… (Also posted on Cobalt Iron’s blog)

Mike Matchett, Small World Big Data

In IT there are well-known (and never 100% avoidable) risks that justify rock solid data protection – component failures, operator mistakes, application bugs, network outages and the like. Yet the business insurance plans we deploy in the form of data protection solutions are often incomplete, misaligned, offer poor capabilities (for management, assurance, recovery…), and sometimes can’t be trusted to work when needed.

Businesses tend to push back most on the costs of data protection when they aren’t actually getting the protection they deserve (at any cost). First, IT needs to step up and solidify, actually verify, validate, and otherwise engender trust with the business that they’ve implemented the best (in terms of aligned, functioning, reliable, correct) protection solutions for the business.

But a big second here is that “best” also means lowest cost. If budget were unlimited, IT could way overspend on “everything” and solve all the problems in the world. But realistically, IT needs to deliver rock-solid data protection coverage in the most cost-efficient manner.

A fair question to ask right now is if it’s even possible to deliver a cost-effective data protection solution, given all the complexities enterprises can face (many of which were introduced in the last blog post on data protection complexity). We’ve seen that there are solutions that can get us there technically, but do they help corral cost? If not, we might find ourselves back at square one.

Show Me the Money!

Let’s look at two big ways that newer data protection solutions, those that meet our needs to handle enterprise scale and complexity, significantly lower total data protection costs (disregarding for the moment that new intelligent solutions also provide vastly superior coverage, reliability, and services than aging piece-part manual approaches).

The first big cost-cut comes from eliminating wasted and obsolete spending outright. As a practicing analyst and long-time field consultant, I’d easily bet that anyone still running a toolbox full of “yesterday’s” data protection solutions has significant backup license misalignment. There will be unused or unneeded backup solution licenses lost or floating around even while key data is not being protected. According to Cobalt Iron, they’ve found that simply recovering stray licenses in some cases has provided a 20% cost reduction.

Then by establishing cohesive backup management and centralized, automated control, whole aging suites of newly obsoleted software and hardware can be swept out the door. Some common legacy protection software, often purchased for narrow and now obsolete requirements, can be quite pricey even as their relevance and functionality have faded.

The first big cost-cut comes from eliminating wasted and obsolete spending… The second big cost control come from right-sizing…

The second big cost control comes from right-sizing the actually required solution. This aligns the data needs with software licensing, hardware, and/or cloud storage costs over time. Automation and elastic cloud services play a large role in this dynamic balancing act, but when implemented correctly it results in accurate, always minimized data protection costs in the face of ongoing business, application, user and technology changes.

Three other immediate cost recovery areas that come with intelligent, automated, service-based solutions are also well worth mentioning here –

  1. Patching and upgrades can be automated, minimizing the costs of both scheduled downtime and avoidable outages (due to operator errors)
  2. Operational time is freed up for staff that otherwise had to maintain currency in various aging technologies, manually oversee deployment and patching, directly tracking and attempting to manage widespread processing, and more.
  3. Cloud advantages in elasticity and dynamic provisioning can help optimize spending, but only when actively managed. Unmanaged cloud adoption is always going to become expensive as costs add up over time.

This is really just the start of a full TCO reduction analysis that might also include quantifying data risks, business outages, staff shortfalls, and even new application provisioning agility (i.e. on-demand data protection services).

The bottom line on the costs of data protection? It’s not a question of if you can afford it, rather it’s a question of what’s at stake when you don’t have “business complete” data protection. Knowing that there are now new solutions that can assure end-to-end coverage AND reduce total costs means that you should be moving to modernized data protection today!

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