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Netting Out NetBackup

NetBackup Search vs. Infinite Retention

Created: 16 Jan 2012 • Updated: 22 Jan 2013
Alex Sakaguchi's picture
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All bark and no bite.  Heard the saying?  It essentially means one who talks a tough story, but then shuns away when asked to step up.

In 2010, Symantec conducted a survey of more than 1,600 senior IT and legal executives in 26 countries to determine the best – and worst – practices in the area of information management and published the results in the 2010 Information Management Health Check Survey.

87% of these folks said that enterprises should have a proper information retention strategy that allows them to delete unnecessary information.

Why, then, do less than 46% actually have one?

What’s the deal?  Why is it so hard to delete information that isn’t needed? 

Well, that’s the key isn’t it?  Enterprises know they should have an information retention policy in place that allows them to delete unnecessary information confidently, but they often do not because they are unclear as to what information is necessary and what information is not

Thus, is born the infinite retention mindset where it becomes acceptable to keep stuff forever and buy more storage, than delete information confidently.

Introducing NetBackup Search.

NetBackup Search enables the user to easily and quickly search across the entire backup environment, to find and identify the information necessary to keep, and to place legal holds on that information, thereby allowing the rest of the information to expire according to retention policies.

Why is this helpful?  Consider this typical scenario between the legal team and the backup administrator:

Lawyer:  “Hey there backup admin, we might be getting sued.  I need you to hold all of John’s files from x period to y period until further notice.”

Backup admin:  “Sure thing.  Do you know what servers John was on?”

Lawyer:  “No clue.”

Backup admin:  “Okay, well his files could literally be across many different servers, and with no way to pinpoint which ones they’re on…”

Lawyer:  “Just make it happen please.”

Backup admin:  “Sure.”  [Thinking to himself] “It will take me too long to go searching for all of John’s files across all the backups from all the servers.  I’ll just hold everything.  That way I’m sure his files won’t be deleted.”

Now comes a critical point and there are two main scenarios:

  1. The company goes to litigationT
  2. The company does not go to litigation

If the company does go to litigation, the possibility of having to actually produce John’s files by court order is significantly increased—and that can be extremely costly.  In Toussie vs. The County of Suffolk (2007), the County was ordered by the court to restore 417 backup tapes containing copies of 5 years worth of emails.  The County needed to hire an outside consulting firm to conduct the restore of those tapes and then search for relevant information.  This amounted to an expected minimum cost of $418,000 and an upward cost of $672,000.  Not a drop in the bucket!

Alternatively, if the company does not go to litigation, the backup admin will likely get a call from the lawyer a year or two later:

Lawyer:  “Hi backup admin…we don’t need John’s files anymore.  Go ahead and release them.”

Backup admin:  “I’ll take care of it.”  [Thinking to himself] “Why was I holding John’s info again…well, can I really just release all that information?  What if there are other files contained on those backups that are being held for some other reason?  I better hang on to them…I’ll just buy more storage.”

Over time, companies end up having huge repositories of held data for which there is no clear understanding as to the reasons why it’s being held.  This not only adds to unnecessary storage costs, but can also add to unnecessary risk.

NetBackup Search enables the backup admin to go in and find which backups contain John’s information, and to place only that information on hold so it doesn’t inadvertently get deleted.  NetBackup Search also allows the backup admin to see all the information being held, when it was first placed on hold, and why it’s being held, so that when the lawyer calls saying it’s no longer necessary, he can release just that information without affecting other holds that might be there for information in the backup environment.

In addition, if it turns out that John’s information is needed in court and more robust searches need to be conducted, NetBackup Search will enable the backup admin to import that information into Symantec’s market leading archive (Enterprise Vault) and eDiscovery (Clearwell) solutions to perform more advanced tasks.

Putting the bite back in the bark.  NetBackup Search gives IT professionals the ability to easily identify the information necessary for retention, thereby enabling them to delete the information that isn’t.  This results in storage savings, better risk management, and a dramatic reduction in actual and potential eDiscovery and compliance related costs.

NetBackup Search is one way Symantec is delivering Better Backup For All and driving toward the goal of reducing the operational expenses of doing backup by up to 80% over the next 5 years. 

Check out the Countdown to Better Backup Calendar to learn more.