There's backup and recovery and then there's world-class backup and recovery, and even the largest IT organizations can find themselves drowning in complexity as they strive for operational excellence on an on-going basis.
According to recent research from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), only 86% of backups complete successfully and only 80% of recoveries complete within negotiated recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO) as specified by service level agreements.¹ IT organizations are additionally challenged by inconsistent remediation efforts and limited visibility, especially when it comes to identifying factors that impede the performance of backup operations.
Along with backup and recovery complexities, IT organizations also face challenges around archiving, another critical function in the quest for operational excellence. While backups help recover information in current use in the event they are interrupted, corrupted, or lost, archiving helps discover details of information and processes not in current use, and is most typically associated with meeting regulatory compliance. Many companies, even the most sophisticated organizations, often overlook archiving because it's not a "life or death" scenario. However, A disciplined approach can unlock enormous efficiencies in storage capacity, backup/recovery time, availability and user service levels, particularly when paired with a modern backup solution.
The IT department's struggle to deliver effective data protection services comes at a time when the need for both disciplines has never been more acute. The number of business-critical applications requiring 24x7 operations is on the rise and the high-cost of down time and threat of exposure from non-compliance with regulations like Sarbanes Oxley only emphasizes the need for best-in-class data protection practices. Moreover, information explosion is also changing the stakes around the archiving and backup and recovery game. International Data Corp.'s 2011 Digital Universe study projects data center information to expand by a factor of 50 while data center files are set to multiply by a factor of 75, and these burgeoning data stores call out the need for a structured approach to manage data protection environments.
Many organizations will turn to more sophisticated enterprise backup and archiving technologies to modernize environments ill-prepared to meet the challenges of today's business climate. However, simply adding state-of-the-art recovery capabilities like snapshots, replication, workload-specific protection, and archiving tools isn't always the answer for fixing "broken" processes much less for achieving sustainable operational excellence. For one thing, there is less IT staff available to do data protection work and an even smaller number of professionals adequately trained in the sophisticated tools and processes. A different ESG report found that only 14% of companies surveyed planned to invest in data protection skills in 2012², making it a continuous challenge for companies to find, cultivate, and retain technology-savvy personnel for backup and archiving practices.
Moreover, a limited IT staff poses other challenges. The lack of deep domain expertise in sophisticated backup functionality like deduplication or virtualization means companies can't tap the tools to their fullest potential. In addition, the role of archiving administrator is ill-defined in many organizations. As a result, archiving tasks are often handed off to the email admin or to a more general IT administrator, who don't necessarily have the bandwidth to give it the proper attention nor the proper expertise to ensure the best archiving processes and policies are followed.
Managed services are an alternative and highly-effective approach for achieving best-in-class data protection functions like archiving and backup and recovery. By aligning with a trusted services provider, enterprises can benefit from a number of advantages compared to what is often the daunting and potentially, more expensive task of building out internal resources and maintaining best practices. Specifically, a managed services provider with a specialty in archiving or backup and recovery can offer enterprises:
Rich backup and archiving expertise. Not only does a service provider have a deeper understanding of backup architectures and archiving technology, but they are also better equipped to improve service levels by efficiently applying best-of-breed technologies coupled with proven industry best practices.
Strict SLA performance guarantees. With in-depth experience hammering out RTOs and RPOs, a managed services provider can help the business define the optimal parameters (for instance, choosing between gradual recovery or immediate recovery) while also ensuring SLAs are definitely met.
Greater visibility into TCO and fixed costs. A managed services provider can establish a pricing schedule based on fixed monthly or yearly costs. In addition, they can help enterprises more efficiently forecast storage needs and data growth, ensuring a more predictable cost schedule.
Minimizing risks around data loss and downtime. The fall out from data loss or down time can be severely damaging, but organizations typically lack a structured approach to understanding business-critical data and mapping it to an effective backup or an archiving plan. In contrast, a managed service provider will help identify critical business data as well as monitor and measure the controls put in place to protect that data, vastly mitigating a company's exposure.
Freedom to focus on strategic IT initiatives. With the managed service provider tasked with core administrative and maintenance backup and recovery and archiving functions, IT is freed up to focus on its core competencies, allowing it to redeploy limited resources to more strategic business concerns.
Complete knowledge of compliance concerns. While organizations are aware of the growing number of compliance initiatives impacting their particular industry sector, most don't have knowledge of how to configure or manage storage in context with the various requirements. A managed service provider has onboard expertise to deal with escalating compliance concerns and can assist organizations in ensuring a smooth audit in the event that one is necessary.
Symantec's Managed Backup Service can help organizations resolve their backup and recovery challenges with minimal new capital investment. Symantec Managed Backup Services provide comprehensive 24x7 monitoring and management of a Symantec NetBackup environment under strict SLAs, letting organizations focus on core business priorities while still retaining ownership of their backup infrastructure.
Built on similar philosophies, Symantec Managed Enterprise Vault Services provide monitoring, management, and support for the Symantec Enterprise Vault archiving solution, used to maximize primary storage capacity by automatically expiring data pursuant to retention policies and by employing capabilities like deduplication to eliminate redundant copies.
Both managed service solutions are staffed 24x7x365 by skilled administrators who have direct access to all of Symantec's advanced technical resources and who are well versed in sophisticated operational data protection best practices. In addition, expert knowledge of NetBackup and Enterprise Vault means that new product features and functions will be implemented correctly from the start.
Rather than struggle through the complexities of day-to-day backup and recovery, enterprises should consider managed services as a way to achieve operational excellence without bogging down IT. To learn more, view the webcast “Achieving Operational Excellence in Backup Environments
,” in which a senior analyst from Enterprise Strategy Group discusses how to overcome current data protection challenges to achieve operational excellence.
¹ Trends in Data Protection Modernization," August 2012, Enterprise Strategy Group
² 2012 IT Spending Intentions Survey," January 2012, Enterprise Strategy Group