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A Proactive Approach to Backup and Recovery

25 November, 2008

Summary

Learn how a proactive, outsourced approach can be the key to backup success.
Does your company approach backup and recovery the way a property owner approaches homeowner’s insurance? That may not be a very wise idea. Think back to the wildfires that have devastated parts of Southern California in recent years. Many homeowners learned the hard way that they were insufficiently insured when their properties were destroyed. As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently:
“The nonprofit group United Policyholders, which educates disaster victims and others about home insurance issues, conducted an unscientific survey on the issue last spring. Among the 188 victims of the 2007 fires who answered questions about underinsurance, 139 of them said their policy limits didn't cover the full cost of repairing or replacing their homes.”
Too often that’s the way it is with insurance: It takes a massive storm or accident before people grasp the fundamental importance of having adequate coverage.
Like many homeowners, businesses are often satisfied with minimal preparation for disasters. It’s only when a catastrophe arrives that it becomes clear how ineffective such an approach is.
This article examines why backup and recovery is critical to the business and how a proactive, outsourced approach can be the key to backup success.

Low on the priority list

Traditionally, businesses haven’t given backup and recovery the attention it deserves.
“The whole issue of backup and recovery is too low on the list of priorities,” says Archie Maddocks, Senior Service Delivery Manager, Symantec Global Services. “Too many businesses are only interested in storage when they can’t recover data they desperately need, and it costs them money. Data backup and recovery is very much a reactive part of the overall end-to-end service.”
But the times are changing.
Increasingly, the inability to recover mission-critical information promptly can spell disaster for a company in today’s 24x7 business environment. IDC estimates that server downtime cost organizations roughly $140 billion worldwide in lost worker productivity and revenue in 2007.
Then there are increasing regulatory pressures to consider. High-profile incidents of data loss have put companies in the position of having to comply with a whole new generation of laws and regulations.
And the legal pressures don’t stop there. If a business is asked to produce data in litigation, it must be able to locate that data quickly and efficiently. Failure to do so can be extremely costly.
Ultimately, the risks associated with poorly managed data protection environments range from data loss or data corruption to the financial risks associated with unmet service levels or unplanned outages.

In-house or outsource?

Make no mistake, managing backup and recovery operations can be a daunting task. But invariably businesses are faced with a simple choice: continue to manage backup and recovery operations in-house, or seek the assistance of an outsourcer.
Under certain circumstances, having an in-house backup and recovery team is an appealing option. For example, it’s thought to be less expensive than outsourcing, and it may allay fears about security, confidentiality, and loss of operational control.
But partnering with a reliable outsourcer brings numerous benefits that should diminish such concerns. Many organizations have made a strategic decision to transfer the ongoing management of their complex environments to experts who can deliver a range of benefits:
  • The assurance of a fixed price. Often the budget manager is unaware of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an in-house solution. But an outsourcer can set a pricing schedule based on fixed monthly costs.
  • Guarantees on service levels. It is often difficult to adhere to operational levels internally. Strict Service Level Agreements (SLAs) provided by an outsourcer enable management to learn exactly how effectively the organization’s backup and recovery operations are performing.
  • Greater focus on the core business. An outsourcer allows an organization to concentrate on its core competencies, thus allowing resources to be redeployed to more central concerns of the business.
  • A more structured approach to critical business data. The financial repercussions of data loss can be devastating. An experienced outsourcer can minimize the risk by helping the business identify and effectively back up its critical business data.
  • A keener understanding of the importance of compliance. Compliance demands will only increase in the years ahead. It is important to have experts onboard to deal with these growing concerns.

Moving to a managed service

Symantec Managed Backup Services provide 24x7 management of an organization’s backup and recovery operations under strict SLAs. The Symantec Managed Backup Service begins with an initial assessment of the current backup environment, including recommendations for optimizing the backup operations and infrastructure and a determination of the ROI for moving to a managed service.
Next, a transition plan is developed that is specific to an organization’s people, processes, and technology. The service is then run according to agreed upon SLAs, including backup and recovery success rates. Because the data stays on an organization’s assets in its data centers, there is no ‘lock-in’ agreement that could impact the recovery of data in the long term.
Based on Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) processes, Symantec Managed Backup Services combine local management—on-site or off-site—with remote round-the-clock monitoring, incident management, performance of restore requests, planning and optimization assistance, and regular reporting. Incidents are addressed promptly using an organization’s existing storage management queue with supplemental root cause analysis performed on high-impact problems. Symantec’s local technical expert plans and optimizes operations, from change management monitoring to patch management, domain client configuration alterations, and storage capacity forecasting.

Conclusion

The need for a first-class backup operation is more pressing today than at any other time. And increasingly strict government regulations, an exponential growth in corporate data, and a broader range of data being used to support critical business operations have only exacerbated that need.
Nevertheless, too many businesses still see backup as a burdensome drain on their time, and organizations that have well-run backup operations are very much in the minority. Too often the ability to recover data is not an area of high focus until something goes wrong.
Symantec Managed Backup Services enable enterprises to reduce operational costs, manage risks, and meet their SLAs by outsourcing their key backup and recovery functions to Symantec’s data protection experts. Such an arrangement allows them to focus on their core business priorities while retaining ownership of their backup technology.

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