Planning Data Protection Strategy Around the Business Case

When formulating a data protection strategy, companies should build their strategy around the business case and not the latest in hi-tech buzzwords and pseudo-philosophies. The best way to currently achieve this is formulate a data protection strategy using the business needs of the company and paying close attention to the data type and volume necessary for the efficient running of mission critical applications.

In the current business climate, companies are extremely lean as they work to maximize the use of their assets and deliver ROI - in many instances, businesses are working so close to the bone because it is a matter of business survival in the economic recession. This makes them far more susceptible to even small-scale and short-term loss of their network functionality which increases the business risk they are exposed to.

To create a data protection strategy which is effective and reliable, companies should first consider the business processes and identify critical data assets. Once this is done, decisions must be made regarding what data protection tools are available (given budgetary constraints) to protect these processes and data assets. This will maximize the protection that can be delivered and place a constraint on unnecessary spending on software, equipment and support which is not needed to achieve the company objectives.

Analyzing data assets and business processes will uncover which are mission-critical and the degree of risk to which loss of their use the company is exposed to. It should also uncover the level of risk the individual asset and process classes are exposed to and in turn, what their loss means to overall business function. Essentially, you will be prioritizing which data and process classes represent critical need and value to the business.

In addition to the internal business case, there are regulatory requirements to meet in the event of disaster or other loss of critical data and downtime of business processes. Given the increasing activity of financial regulators at home and abroad in the wake of the near-total global banking collapse which was very narrowly averted last year, regulators of all shades are waking up to the fact that current data protection and DR strategies may not be robust enough to handle data loss or a business' ability to continue with short-term loss of critical processes.

In practice, this will require a blending of a range of techniques and technologies - no vendor has all the solutions and one size does not fit all!

Enterprise storage technologies currently on the market vary but server virtualization is touted as being the best thing since sliced bread but, and it is a big "but" - they are not the complete answer. Server virtualization has its place but it is simply one tool in an effective data protection strategy. We should not ignore data replication, off-site storage or building in network redundancy and disaster recovery.

The current lack of storage standards only adds to consumer confusion; vendors such as HP, IBM and EMC have yet to adopt W3C standards which make it imperative that consumers partner with a storage solution provider so they know what they are buying when putting into effect their data protection storage strategy.

Lawerence Reaves works for PLANIT Technology Group, a leading provider of Richmond enterprise storage and Virginia Beach network security. PLANIT can be found online at:

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