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The Hidden Costs of Backup Software

The focus of data protection has changed. Backups and data recovery used to exist primarily to protect against human error or natural disaster. The focus was on recovering from an accidental deletion or salvaging company data after a data center burned down. Today, data protection is critical to a company’s security strategy. The biggest threat to corporate data is people actively and purposely destroying it or holding it for ransom. The way companies and IT teams think about data protection needs to change to reflect this reality. Their decisions need to balance potential risks against the costs—including the hidden costs—of available backup solutions. There are plenty of data-protection products on the market. As technological complexity grows, automation, integration, and simplicity are the sane route forward. Simplicity and affordability are closely related concepts in the world of data protection, because time is the hidden cost of many backup solutions available today. Some minor effort put into data protection rationalization results in fewer overtime hours, fewer sleepless nights, and more time available for IT professionals to tackle the other challenges on their to-do list. Spend Expertise Wisely Full-time backup administrators are an unnecessary expense. Data protection solutions are advanced enough now to take care of most of what a backup admin typically does, and businesses who dedicate full-time staffers to this job aren’t taking full advantage of the technologies available to them. To be clear, we’re not suggesting that anyone fire their backup administrators. Someone has to manage data protection software, no matter how automated it is. But wouldn’t it make more sense if talented and capable backup administrators—who, as a result of their role, have a great deal of domain-specific knowledge—instead focus their efforts on IT security? Security is where capable IT admins are needed most. More to the point: modern regulatory requirements, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), increasingly require that security, privacy, and data sovereignty considerations be extended to include backups and disaster recovery plans to help achieve compliance. This means that most organizations simply can't afford to waste resources on tasks that can be automated. It's not that backup admins are unimportant; it’s that they should be spending their time and expertise on more than just keeping the lights on. A great example of a waste of a backup administrator's time is performing end-user restores. Data protection solutions solved this problem ages ago with end-user portals and other technologies. Modern products have also automated sizing, acquiring, and managing storage for data protection solutions. Backup admins have better things to do. Control Your Time SolarWinds® Head Geek Patrick Hubbard has a great quote: “My goal is to give you longer weekends.” Will a backup solution make your life easier and your weekends longer? That's a call each individual administrator will have to make. Regardless of what backup product you choose, we encourage systems administrators to review their data protection solutions. It is important for the solution to be simple and offer end users and workload owners the ability to restore on their own. Find out how, and from where, you can access the backup software. Can you manage it from your phone? From a tablet? From a branch office on a different continent? Most important of all, make sure that you 1) have a data protection solution in place, and 2) use a data protection solution that includes automated testing. If your data doesn't exist in at least two places, it doesn’t exist. Similarly, if you can't restore your data from your backups, it also doesn't exist. Save yourself a lot of trouble and make sure your data exists—and make sure it doesn't waste too much of your time to keep it that way.
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James Green
James is a Partner at ActualTech Media where he writes, speaks, and creates engaging content around topics of interest in Enterprise IT. He is a…
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