The hidden costs of the data explosion

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As data grows out of control, it's easy to overlook the high price of maintaining BC/DR solutions to keep all that data safe

Rampant data growth makes slaves of us all. The effects are well known: massive growth in storage infrastructure, prematurely obsolete storage resources, the endless scramble to stay on top of it all.

Storage vendors have reacted to the onslaught with cheaper, more capable primary storage hardware to sate the data addiction. But as primary storage resources are continuously upgraded in response to growth, disaster recovery and business continuity architectures are often pushed beyond their original design limits -- leaving organizations at significant risk.

A failure to plan is a plan for failure
The dangers of neglecting to plan expansion of BC/DR capabilities in lockstep with those of the primary storage environment are many and varied. The most common examples I've seen can be found in traditional backup infrastructures.

All too often, so much primary data needs to be supported that backup windows start overlapping with production hours. To prevent that encroachment, well-meaning admins often start by trimming "unimportant" data out of the backup rotation. But it usually doesn't end there. Before long, entire servers are being backed up less frequently, then sometimes not at all. From there, you're only a hop, skip, and a jump from neglecting to protect something that is important and living to regret it.

Worse still, storage infrastructures packed to the gills with data not only take longer to back up, they also take much longer to restore in the event that data is lost or corrupted. A resource on which you may have been able to deliver a one-hour RTO a few years ago now might take two, three, or even four times as long to restore.

This inevitably involves careful planning to determine at what point your current DR resources will need to be upgraded and make clear you can't continue to add more data until that's done. Having this math handy also makes it much easier to implement some kind of storage chargeback/showback mechanism to show the true cost of the organization's appetite for data.

Granted, in today's business landscape, that's not always as easy to do as it is to say. If you find yourself getting pushback on spending capital on "nonessential" items like backups -- or even being encouraged to cut corners in your disaster recovery plans -- you must be very vocal about the potential outcomes.

I've seen situations time and time again where admins knowingly crippled their own disaster recovery infrastructures at the behest of management and failed to clearly communicate the results -- blown RTO/RPO policies, inability to restore, lengthy downtimes, you name it. Trust me, those same business stakeholders won't be lining up to take responsibility if you can't restore data.

This article, "The hidden costs of the data explosion," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Matt Prigge's Information Overload blog and follow the latest developments in storage at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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