Advanced Data Protection Emerges as Top CIO Priority

Most CIOs employ some type of data protection strategy. Typically, this strategy has centered on storing periodically updated duplicate copies of data offsite to allow the retrieval of lost or deleted data and a level of business continuity in the event of a mishap. Data-tape

But as detailed in a recent white paper from sourcing advisory firm ISG, “Defining the Right Data Protection Strategy,” CIOs must revamp their data protection strategies in the face of developments such as growing data volumes, stricter regulatory requirements, increasingly sophisticated hacking techniques and rapidly evolving technology.

Let’s examine a few of the suggestions ISG makes for CIOs looking to strengthen and modernize their data protection strategies.

Use Multiple Storage Technologies
ISG recommends that CIOs use multiple storage technologies to help distribute risk of catastrophic failure and provide a balance of flexibility and cost control. While no single array of storage technologies is the “right” choice for every situation, ISG advises CIOs to consider options including tape- and disk-based solutions, as well as more modern and expensive solutions such as cloud-based storage and backup services.

Tried and True: Tape and Disk Storage Technology
In terms of tape -and disk-based solutions, ISG advises CIOs to use both, as disk-based solutions are both more expensive and shorter-lived than tape-based solutions, making tape storage ideal for older, less critical data as it is moved off disk, which offers faster backups and recovery times. In addition, virtual tape libraries (VTLs) leverage online disk storage and work similarly to physical disk-based solutions. There are also newer versions of traditional tape-based storage solutions, such as linear file tape system (LFTS), which are closer to disk performance in areas such as speed of access to backed-up data.

However, even for CIOs who use a mix of current tape and disk technology for data recovery and backup, ISG advises them to consider both short- and long-term business needs for backup and recovery performance, data access and retention, as well as for reliability, ease of management and cost. Since these needs and the capabilities of technology will evolve, ISG suggests that CIOs ensure any tape/disk-based storage solution is flexible and also frequently reviewed and updated as needed.

The New Option: Cloud Storage
Cloud-based services offer greater storage capacity and backup/recovery times than tape- or disk-based solutions, but CIOs must integrate on-premises cloud-based solutions with the overall backup solution to avoid duplication. And as with any outsourced services, CIOs must ensure cloud-based hosted data backup/recovery services meet changing internal business needs and regulatory/compliance requirements. ISG also recommends always having a physical backup to any virtual data storage solution.

In-house or Outsourced?
The ISG report touches upon some of the issues associated with hosted cloud services, but it’s worth adding a deeper look at the crucial choice between in-house and outsourced data backup/recovery (or a combination of the two). Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. In-house data backup/recovery places complete control of potentially sensitive data in the hands of the organization and depending upon what type of in-house human and IT resources exist, may have lower upfront costs.

On the negative side, maintaining data in-house may be less secure than maintaining it through a third party with specialized knowledge and capabilities, and may have higher upfront costs if certain in-house resources are lacking. In addition, ongoing operational and maintenance costs associated with in-house solutions and employees are almost certainly higher than those associated with outsourced services.

In many cases, CIOs may be best served by using a combination of in-house and outsourced data backup/recovery solutions and services. This is especially true for CIOs who choose to use some degree of cloud technology, which requires a high degree of specific expertise to deploy and maintain and is often most effective and economical when delivered as a hosted service.