Why can’t everything just work?
It’s no exaggeration to say that data is now a commodity - just like electricity, gas and water.
We generate electricity and deliver it through cables. We store gas in large cylinders or water in reservoirs and then deliver them through a network of pipes. It is the same with data. We store it in ‘containers’ in datacentres and then deliver it via cables or over the airwaves.
But end users pay little attention to where data is stored or how it is managed. And why should they?
For Generation Y - the newest but most demanding user group - data must be available at all times, like the utilities that turn on our lights, heat our food and fill our baths.
As the accessibility of technology and services in our personal lives has increased, so it has raised expectations in the workplace. This has a significant effect on how we manage data to ensure it is always available.
The IT challenge
It might be that users don’t care where data comes from or how it is stored but they certainly notice when it’s not there.
What’s more, it’s not just the most obvious data that must be available at all times. Customer profile or purchase history data is valuable because it can be used to instantly to improve sales or service. But there is plenty of other data that may be required at some future date that suddenly becomes highly valuable at that point.
The most obvious example is for compliance purposes. If your industry regulator asks to see a file - from any point in time - and you fail to produce it within a given time frame, your organisation could be subject to financial penalties and risk reputation damage.
All of this increases the pressure on IT departments to provide 24/7/365 data availability.
A new approach
It used to be that Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity were singular activities that gave you a contingency plan in the event of an emergency. They were there to help you avoid the consequences of major service downtime – loss of business, reputation or key data, for example.
In our new world of always-on business, considering Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity as standalone activities is out-dated.
Data is essential to the 24/7 running of our organisations, just like power, heating and water. Data availability is now so critical to operational efficiency, employee satisfaction and financial success that any major downtime is almost inconceivable.
For that reason, approaching data contingency planning as though you are protecting your organisation from a single major event no longer works.
Instead of considering Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity in isolation, organisations must think of how to ensure that access to data just works.
Making it work
The way to do this is to build data availability into any IT infrastructure project and monitor it continuously. New data storage projects in particular should incorporate data recovery and availability fail-safes right from the start.
Using modular and standardised data storage architecture is the key to giving your users the level of data availability they have come to expect.
Instead of focusing on data availability as a Disaster Recovery task, isn’t it time we just tried to make sure everything worked…just like in other utilities?