recipe box

Today’s Backup And Recovery Menu: A Recipe For Disaster

recipe boxWhen people talk about the skyrocketing amount of data being created — and consumed — they typically focus on the storage, bandwidth, or analysis aspects, but there is another critical element that has major implications for organizations: backup and recovery, or business continuity. Issues like productivity, service level agreements — i.e. recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) — backup windows, disaster recovery, and governance are all affected by this data deluge.

In the recent Best Practices for Repairing the Broken State of Backup, Gartner Analyst Dave Russell said the biggest problem areas for backup include capability, cost, and complexity. Legacy backup approaches don’t scale well, as they cannot handle increased demands for protecting today’s data sources and volumes to meet the backup window.

Clients’ top capability complaints include not meeting the backup window, not being able to restore data fast enough to meet SLAs, point solutions not being able to fully protect all data types or locations, daunting administrative interfaces, and incomplete reporting. They also feel that too much time, expertise, and effort are spent keeping the current recovery systems afloat. Organizations would like backup to be a process that requires far less supervision and administrative attention, and for higher backup and restore success rates to be easier to achieve.

In a recent Dell whitepaper, the vendor listed a number of backup and recovery challenges, including:

  • lack of operational oversight — backup and data integrity verification are difficult to impossible, and there is little confidence in reaching RTOs and RPOs, while continuous data protection (CDP) with integrity verification provides more confidence but is resource-hungry and expensive to run;
  • exponential data growth results in poor backup and restore performance and requires frequent provisioning;
  • virtualization growth has a serious impact on backup resources;
  • inefficient data silos have been around for years, and are more costly and inefficient than ever, and they also impact WAN transport costs;
  • SLAs are crucial to maintaining application availability but many data protection products offer mediocre insight at best into application recoverability, while data silos running backup point products worsen the problem, making it very difficult to test and remediate recoverability; and,
  • heavy management overhead is epidemic in traditional backup environments.

The fact that backup is broken was made blatantly clear when I spoke with Silver Peak recently about their latest replication acceleration software upgrade. A customer said they were taking 27 hours to complete their daily backups and full replication was taking 95% of the week to complete. One reason I became a journalist was my lack of math skills, but even I can figure out that you can’t fit very many 27-hour backups into a 24-hour period.

However, backup and recover is not only broken, it’s expensive in terms of downtime and data loss when it doesn’t work.  On an industry/hourly cost, these are the consequences of downtime:

  • brokerage services — $6.8 million;
  • energy — $2.8 million;
  • telecom — $2 million;
  • manufacturing — $1.6 million;
  • retail — $1.1 million;
  • health care — $636 thousand; and
  • media — $90 thousand.

The costs of data loss are even higher:

  • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster;
  • 94% of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss do not survive — 43% never reopen; 51% close within two years;
  • 30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year; 70% fail within 5 years;
  • 77% of companies who test their tape backups found backup failures;
  • 7 out of 10 small businesses that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year;
  • 96% of all business workstations are not being backed up; and,
  • 50% of all tape backups fail to restore.

The bottom line is that while IT must focus on overcoming their growing data storage, bandwidth and analysis requirements, the cost of not providing equal remediation to backup and recovery can be dear indeed.

Image credit: joy garnett (flickr)

About the author
Steve Wexler
Steve is a proficient IT journalist, editor, publisher, and marketing communications professional. For the past two-plus decades, he has worked for the world’s leading high-technology publishers. Currently a contributor to Network Computing, Steve has served as editor and reporter for the Canadian affiliates of IDG and CMP, as well as Ziff Davis and UBM in the U.S. His strong knowledge of computers and networking technology complement his understanding of what’s important to the builders, sellers and buyers of IT products and services.