There once was a manufacturer that supplied parts for a car company. Their quality control process allowed them to ensure no more than 1 defect for evert 1000 parts shipped. At first, this seems very impressive. But each car consisted of over 10,000 different components. If every supplier maintained the same standard of quality, this would guarantee 10 defects for every vehicle. Not only would this create unhappy customers, but it could also put lives at risk.
A similar principle comes into play when it comes to managing and protecting corporate IT systems.
A group of university researchers recently completed a major 4-year assessment of tech vendors by 36,0000 customers. One of the more interesting findings to come out of the study was that technology professionals overwhelmingly prefer to work with integrated systems, instead of buying and assembling components to create their own solutions.
Integrated solutions have long been preferred amongst IT customers in both the business and consumer spaces.
With IBM Power Systems, hardware, hypervisor, OS, database and applications are all provided by the same vendor. And these are all designed in such a way that they work together immaculately. This provides the lowest possible Total Cost of Ownership. And the systems are secure & resilient by default.
Similarly, Apple has achieved market dominance by offering hardware, operating systems and other components from the same provider, while also maintaining tight control over which applications and content can be used on their systems. Because Apple has control over every aspect of their platforms, they are able to provide a truly exceptional and streamlined user experience that has created a loyal — almost cult-like — following. And because these systems are completely integrated, they are also much easier to use, upgrade, maintain and repair.
When it comes to technology, there is definitely something to be said about simplification. The data protection requirements for most companies today might look something like this:
- Backup for travelling laptops and PCs
- File sharing and collaboration for users
- Database backup
- File server backup
- Full system state backup
- Disaster recovery and high availability for critical systems
- Archiving for information compliance
- Backup for Linux, Windows, Mac and other operating systems on physical and virtualized hardware
Each of these processes requires investments of time, resources and capital.
The company will need to spend money on new hardware and software. They’ll need to train internal staff on how to manage these various data protection activities, and hire outside consultants for implementation and maintenance. The company will also incur other costs relating to datacenter space, storage media, shipping costs, off-site storage and energy consumption.
In this context, there are a number of risks that arise when companies attempt to manage their own data protection.
First, there is a capital risk.
Every dollar spent on in-house data protection solutions is a sunk cost. If the company’s IT requirements change significantly in the near future, they will have to re-invest again in expensive new solutions.
Then, there is the liability risk.
Human error is one of the leading causes of critical data loss and privacy breaches. Because data protection is often seen as a “cost centre” for most companies, this role is usually assigned to junior IT staff so that more experienced staff can devote their work to revenue-generating activities.
As we saw with the car parts example above, every backup or recovery introduces a very small element of risk when it comes to human error or physical media failure. But when a company needs to maintain many different data protection process across dozens — or even hundreds — of machines, the likelihood of error or failure becomes much more significant. This is particularly true when these processes are repeated over the space of many years.
And this makes sense when you think about it. Modern hard drives are extremely stable. However, over the span of 5 years, the average hard drive has roughly a 50% chance of crashing or failing. Tiny risks can add up with time and repetition.
Yes. There are quality control processes that can be implemented to ensure that these data protection processes never fail, or to ensure that potential problems are immediately flagged and fixed. But such quality control processes are often too difficult, expensive or time-consuming for most companies to implement. This is further compounded by the fact that the work require to ensure backup integrity does not contribute immediate value to the company’s core revenue-generating activities.
Thankfully, this is an area where managed backup providers can help.
Managed backup providers take data protection, and offer it as a completely integrated solution. This way, you can get your laptop backups, server backups, business continuity, archiving and other data protection services from a single source.
All of these services are professionally managed and monitored, and are made available on a pay-as-you-go basis without any capital investment. This is a cost-effective way to implement best-of-breed solutions.Â And if your data protection needs suddenly change in the future, the managed backup provider allows companies to adapt quickly and inexpensively.
In essence, you’re taking the capital risk associated with data protection and business continuity, and shifting it onto someone else.
In addition to having access to best-of-breed technology and infrastructure, managed backup providers are also staffed by full-time backup professionals who have up-to-date training, and perform emergency disaster recoveries on a daily basis. When something goes wrong, they have the experience and knowledge to dependably recover your systems and data in a timely manner.
Managed backup providers also monitor the health of customer backups, and take proactive action to resolve potential issues before they become a problem. This is an activity that’s often neglected at companies that perform their own internal backups.
Most importantly, since it’s their core business, managed backup providers are zealous about consistently ensuring the security, resiliency and integrity of all their customer data. And since it’s their core business, they can do it at a much lower cost than what it would take for you to maintain the same quality standards in-house.
With a managed backup provider, all of your data protection — for all of your data and systems — can be integrated into a single pay-as-you-go service. This ensures better overall quality and reliability, lower costs, and easier management.
But most importantly, it minimizes the risks associated with managing your own data protection.