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Effective Strategies for Enterprise Data Protection

By CIOReview | Wednesday, May 3, 2017

With a tremendous growth in business data over time, there has been a relative increase in the number of data storage systems used to store all this data. This has ultimately led to a spike in the costs associated with establishing and following the data protection guidelines. The availability of a wide range of data protection products in the market today is transforming the enterprise IT environments in a secure and cost-effective manner. With a focus on production readiness, infrastructure optimization, and effortless data migration between environments, IT enterprises are developing strategies to implement the right data protection products and to ensure that their data is kept out of the “wrong hands”.

Today, the size of an enterprise has emerged as a pivotal element in zeroing in on the right practices, processes, and technologies for data protection and systems management. While large enterprises have the leeway in the form of resources and motivation to adopt advanced and high-end technologies, small and medium businesses often choose solutions that are cost-effective and yet efficient. Irrespective of the business model or the size, enterprises seek data protection technologies that are proficient in minimizing business losses due to insufficiently verifiable data integrity and availability. Additionally, the management of storage performance and capacity, in addition to choosing the best methods for optimized data protection are tasks that are supervised by data storage administrators.

Techniques Incorporated in Data Protection

There are a multitude of practices and techniques that can be considered and incorporated while developing a data protection strategy. A key aspect to consider is the backup and recovery feature wherein the data must be safeguarded by making offline copies of the data which can be restored when disaster strikes. Another element that should be incorporated is the remote data movement feature that allows real-time movement of data to a location outside a primary storage system to protect it in the event of system damage due to natural calamities.   

The application of techniques such as remote copy and replication, boost server and network security measures is done by duplicating data from one system to another while securing the storage system and facilitating  adherence to best practices.. To ensure that the final data is not tampered with and changed, it is moved into read-only storage. Also, data is moved to different types of storage based on how old it is. Another invaluable component of a foolproof data protection strategy is Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), that encompasses valuing, cataloging, and protection of information assets. The information-enabled ILM facilitates decisions that are driven by the content and context of the information, and are governed by regulatory policies.   

Strategies to Allocate Data Protection Services

It has been widely observed that almost half of the disk-based storage infrastructure is used to hold copies of the data stored on the other half. This explains the preference for disk-based data backup repository over tape. Even though tape is used as a protection media for more that 50 percent of the world's data, restoration from tape to disk is a slow yet less expensive and less storage-intensive process. With one-tenth of the applications requiring high availability protection for their data assets, there is no need for nonstop continuity strategies for not all the applications are mission-critical. Meanwhile, disk-to-disk mirroring and disk-to-disk replication provide crucial data replication services for mission-critical application and their data. Priced at per-hour outage costs, these data protection services cater to robust networks, duplicate hardware and multiple sites.

 The choice for the absolute data protection solution lies in associating the data protection with the right amount of application workload and data. The key to effective data protection service allocation lies in gaining a proper understanding of the applications along with the data characteristics. While applications derive their value from the business processes they cater to, data derives its relevance from the applications it serves. A thorough business impact analysis would give a clearer perspective on what kind of data protection an enterprise needs.

Before classifying what kind of data protection service can be applied on specific application workloads, it is crucial to take into account the protection standards in terms of data access restoral timeframes. A simple metric such as time-to-data gives an aggregate of the duration required to recover data, re-host applications and reconnect access networks. Also, by choosing the right mechanism to associate a data protection service with a workload is a prudent way to ensure always-on synchronous data replication.  

Cloud-based Data Protection

As enterprises continue to expand their IT environments from traditional data centers to a more heterogeneous and complex cloud-based infrastructure, there is a need for data protection systems that are cloud-specific. With data protection solution providers evolving their product strategy to accommodate the ever-growing needs of cloud-based computing platforms for data management and protection. For instance, Azure Backup is an Azure-based data backup service delivered through the Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS).

A sound data protection strategy is a crucial business requirement that must be developed effectively to minimize downtime, boost recovery performance, and safeguard the information assets.