Is Backup Broken?

In the era of Big Data, the loss of such data can be crushing. As such, for years the conversation to mitigate data loss has revolved around the critical importance of backups.

But even as we developed ever more elaborate systems to duplicate and protect our data, at a certain level we were using an increasingly dated paradigm: the idea that your data should go on a tape or floppy disk and be stored far away, somewhere dark and safe.

Of course, when you say it like that, it sounds ridiculous. In an era of instantaneous, real time, 24/7 backup to multiple servers and data centers across the country, it seems obvious that backups are no longer static but fluid and dynamic.

Adding Uptime to the Conversation

Part of the reason that our conceptualization of backup is dated is the fact that mere data is not enough. We need access. We need availability. Downtime is unacceptable.

This creates something of a catch-22. After all, what is protected is not accessible, and what’s accessible is not protected. How are IT departments supposed to do both?

Compliance Isn’t Keeping up with Standards

The demand for an always-on business environment has never been higher. Most companies see constant access to resources as mission-critical, and this is reflected in SLAs. However, recent surveys have shown that although recovery time objectives are set at an average of 1.6 hours most organizations do not do better than 3 hours. CIOs report that high speed recovery and data loss avoidance are to their top priorities, but high costs and personnel issues hamper deployment.

While no company wants to hear that they need to be spending more on IT, we do know what is involved in having backup that does not sacrifice availability:

  • backing up the data every 15 minutes throughout the day
  • without affecting the production environment
  • testing each backup to ensure they restore property
  • and practising recovery within 15 minutes if an application goes down

It isn’t exactly the equivalent of sending a man to Mars. And certainly the incentives are there. But all too frequently IT departments are forced to split their focus. Until that difficulty is solved, backup will remain broken.



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