Information TLC: Not just Storage and Protection

Business owners know that their business information is important, however, often they are so focused on “customer acquisition and retention” that they do not invest enough time and money into ensuring their vital information is secure.

Part of being secure is of course digital security – protection against hackers, malicious code, viruses and other things. The other part of this security blanket is ensuring the information is stored correctly, backed up properly and if needed that it can be quickly, fully, recovered.

i365, is a company storage vendor Seagate created in 2008 to serve as the umbrella organization for its storage software and services, recovery and e-discovery services (for example when data needs to be recovered under court order).

I figured if anyone knew about the importance of storage, backup and recovery, i365 would. Their spokesperson helps us understand the importance of these three aspects in the interview below.

Storing, protecting, finding, backing up and restoring data appear to be 5 distinct challenges. What are they?
Storing company data and managing for growth is primarily a storage utilization and optimization challenge such as:
???? How to cost-effectively handle more data in a more efficient manner?
???? How long is it necessary to keep data?
???? Where should certain types of data be stored?
Making data easily accessible to employees and/or partners and customers, while at the same time protecting it from unauthorized users is an IT infrastructure and security challenge such as:
???? When, how and where is it available?
???? Who is allowed to see which data?
???? How is it protected?
Backing up and restoring data is a challenge centered around ensuring IT and business continuity such as:
???? How long does it take to backup?
???? How (i.e. disk or tape) and where (onsite or offsite is it protected?
???? And most importantly, how long will it take to recover critical business data in the case of disaster?
When all added up, storing, protecting, finding, backing up and restoring data requires a multitude of IT disciplines that challenge even the largest of organizations. For SMBs, who are constrained by limited resources and budget, handling it properly is even more difficult.

Let?s consider an ?average? 20 – 30 person, knowledge worker company, like a law firm, accounting firm or marketing agency. What kind of data storage needs do they have that might differ from another type of business?
For knowledge worker companies, data after the employees and customers is many times the most important business asset. While the challenges noted above for storing, protecting, finding, backing up and restoring data still apply, these types of companies also must consider:
???? Are there mobile employees/remote offices?
???? Is it in a highly regulated and/or litigious industry?
???? Do they have to comply with industry regulations that require specific data retention policies and/or offsite data redundancy for disaster recovery purposes?
This will further impact their data storage and management requirements, and present additional challenges to SMBs.

There are a LOT of storage solutions on the market. Online storage solutions (like Egnyte offers); traditional servers (I think of Microsoft Small Business Server); external hard disks (getting them 1TB or more is not uncommon) and more. What are some options businesses need to consider?
Before a SMB can consider whether to manage all their data onsite or host some or all of it in the cloud, they need to understand their specific business and recovery requirements. From a business requirements standpoint, SMBs need to consider:
???? How much data and how quickly is it growing?
???? Are there mobile employees/remote offices?
???? Is it in a highly regulated and/or litigious industry?
???? Do they have to comply with industry regulations that require specific data retention policies and/or offsite data redundancy for disaster recovery purposes?
???? Do you have the budget/ IT resources to manage the infrastructure?
???? Prefer CapEx or OpEx cost model?
SMBs also need to consider their business continuity requirements in case of a disaster:
???? What are your recovery time objectives for data/systems?
???? What are the bandwidth implications for recovery during operational hours?
???? Do you have IT expertise to recover complete systems/sites?
Taking all these considerations into account will help SMBs determine which storage options can best meet their current and future needs.

How do they know which options are best for them?
There is a lot of noise in the market and myriad storage solutions, making it even more difficult to know which options are best.

First, by understanding their specific requirements as addressed above, a SMB puts itself in much better position to successfully address their data storage challenges.
Second, they should perform a cost/benefit analysis to compare an on-premise versus cloud-based approach.

Third, comparing solutions on price alone is not enough. SMBs must also evaluate vendor core competencies, functional differences and support capabilities.

Lastly, SMBs should look for a trusted, stable vendor with flexible delivery options so today?s ?best option? can seamlessly become tomorrow?s ?best option? as the business changes and grows.

Are there experts in storage consulting who can advise businesses who might have extra ordinary storage needs?

i365 has a team of expert consultants that can help solve all sorts of issues related to data recovery, data migration, e-discovery, and data protection. i365 offers consulting, training, risk assessments, and implementation services. i365 also has a worldwide network of partners who are experienced in solving customers’ most diverse storage needs.

Are there ?ideal? storage scenarios or templates for small businesses?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for small businesses. A data protection solution should be chosen based on the customer?s budget, the amount of data they need to protect, the amount of (IT and human) resources available, their tolerance to data loss, the length of acceptable downtime, and the risks that they’ll experience in case of a disaster. Based on those factors, small businesses should determine which data protection solution best suits them:

a.) On-Premise: The company purchases and manages the entire backup-recovery system. This suits a company with an in-place IT infrastructure that can install, maintain, and oversee the entire system

.??b.) SaaS Model: The company subscribes to data protection services via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. This is ideal for a smaller company that wants to preserve capital, or for a company facing a high growth rate.

c.) Hybrid Approach: The company outsources the management, maintenance, and support of the solution to the data protection vendor. This reduces the administrative overhead for system support, and frees employees to concentrate efforts on their core competencies.

How has the rise of hosted applications affected storage solutions?
Hosted applications are very useful, but they are not ideal for every business function. The demand for data protection solutions (On-Premise, SaaS, and Hybrid) among small business has been very strong. There is no shortage of data that needs to be protected.

Ramon Ray is the editor and tech evangelist for