Data and information management is becoming increasingly complex and dynamic. There are innovations in technology and process that can supply new advantages. Assess your options based on these five questions before making this critical decision.
You have a big decision that has been weighing on you, something that comes up every few years, and now it is hanging over your head again – should you renew your existing backup software maintenance contract, or is it time to try upgrade to a new platform? This decision is a difficult one because there are so many new options in the market, a myriad of variables to consider, financial implications in an ever-tightening budget scenario and an increasingly dynamic IT environment that it must support, both for today’s needs and the ones that will come up over the life of the contract.
Over the years, many companies have re-signed with their traditional backup solution provider because the benefits of changing were not obvious. But data and information management and protection is becoming increasingly complex and dynamic, and there are innovations in technology and process that can supply new advantages with the pace of change in backup and archive innovation increasing dramatically over the last five years.
You feel the pains every day, and you see that it’s only going to get worse as you look out on the immediate horizon unprecedented data growth, datacenter consolidation and server virtualization are creating turmoil with conventional approaches to backup and recovery. In this environment, storage demands are consuming scarce enterprise resources, there is too much data to protect within operational windows, you want to consider new models, like cloud computing, and complexity has continued to mount with the proliferation of point solutions.
“Organizations worldwide are seeking ways to easily, quickly and cost- effectively ensure that their data is appropriately protected. Organizations are also voicing the opinion that backup needs to improve a lot, not just a little. The rising frustration with backup implies that the data protection approaches of the past may no longer suffice in meeting current, much less future, recovery requirements.”
There is some good news, though. By taking a structured approach based on a few key questions, you can quickly identify the key considerations to pursue that will eliminate the pains of this process and enable you to make a smart and informed decision about making a change. This paper outlines five key questions to ask internally in order to help you highlight the current state of your backup solution and evaluate whether developments in data management software merit changing from your existing solution. These questions should also be posed to the backup software vendors you are currently using and those you are considering in order to understand their ability to meet your needs. The answers they provide may surprise you.
FIRST QUESTION: OPTIMIZING YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Q: How is your current backup solution helping you to optimize your environment?
Containing costs, and subsequently getting more with less, is a perennial focus for IT executives, one that is made ever more challenging by the growth of data, applications and business demands. If your existing backup solution is not helping you drastically optimize your environment, then it might be time for a change. But what should you look for when it comes to optimization? There are a few key areas to scrutinize in determining the extent to which your backup solution will contribute to optimization and help you tame the beast of rising costs as shown in Figure 1.
SECOND QUESTION: TECHNICAL/OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Q: How effectively is your current backup software solution meeting your technical and operational requirements?
How your backup software is meeting your technical and operational requirements forms the foundation for the direction to go with this important decision. Have you experienced difficulty meeting SLAs, recovering data, adhering to compliance mandates or keeping up as your environment has evolved? Key factors to consider with respect to technical/operational requirements focus on your current software’s ability to:
- Easily scale and efficiently handle data growth
- Protect your data within available backup windows – even as the amount of data grows
- Achieve impeccable success rates for backup and recovery
- Ensure data is protected at the edge, including remote sites and desktop, laptops and workstations
- Adhere to SLAs for recovering data – even as the business demands it faster
- Evolve without adding complexity as new applications are added and virtualization penetration increases
- Leverage integrated and intelligent archiving to reduce costs for information retention
- Meet compliance and eDiscovery needs
- Enable knowledge of the data and information in your environment
- Provide value to the business by enhancing access in order to get more value from your data
- Accomplish your information governance strategy
- If you are not able to accomplish all these things with your current backup solution, without adding complexity or additional, loosely integrated point products, then there is reason to consider other alternatives.
THIRD QUESTION: EASILY ADAPTING TO FUTURE NEEDS
Q: What ability to adapt to future needs is built into your current backup software solution?
Your environment is constantly evolving, but is your backup software solution adaptable enough to meet these changing needs, including the ones you don’t know about yet? Is it built on a platform that enables easy integration of new technologies without the hassle of rip and replace upgrades? Will you be able to scale easily to meet your data growth demands? How quickly can your solution integrate with new applications and operating systems? Can you protect varying environments as they are added or change, from the data center to the edge, including end-point devices? It is imperative that you understand the innovation philosophy, the process for adding new features and what migrating to the next version of software looks like for the providers that you are considering.
If you can’t add the functionality you need, when you want it, affordably and easily, then you need to evaluate other options. Some specific considerations that you can evaluate against your unique demands are detailed in Table 1 below.
|UPCOMING PROJECTS||INNOVATION||MANAGING COSTS||HARDWARE IMPACTS|
|What projects are planned in the next year that will impact your backup and recovery processes?||Are you positioned to reap the rewards of innovation in the backup and recovery space?||Are there different purchasing models, like a la carte and capacity- based, in case your management approach changes?||Do you have flexibility in hardware selection?|
|Could these projects exacerbate challenges you are currently facing with your current data protection solution?||How cost-effective and easy is it to take advantage of new technologies for data protection?||Do maintenance costs grow over time?||What is the impact to people, processes and resources when you outgrow your current hardware?|
|Could your backup solution introduce risk to the success or timeliness of these projects?||What is your existing backup software provider’s approach to innovation – leader, follower or staying the course?||How easy is it to change your management approach and costs with different licensing models?||Is a painful and expensive hardware forklift upgrade something you’ve already experienced or see on the horizon?|