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No time for downtime

No time for downtime 

 The EMC-conducted global data protection study shows that extended periods of downtime have cost Canadian companies over $16.8 billion per year, a hefty price to pay for failing to properly secure sensitive data.

Collectively, businesses lost 400 per cent more data on average over the last two years, which is the equivalent of 24 million emails each. In addition, the study found that post-disaster, 57 per cent of IT professionals lack confidence in their data recovery abilities, while 36 per cent of organizations do not have a proper disaster recovery plan in place for today’s emerging workloads.

“I think the reason why (data loss) has been on the uptick is because there is more data that is very important to organizations,” says Mike Sharun, country manager for EMC Canada. “Data has become a core value and a core part of every company’s strategy, so they’re more aware of data loss than they were in the past. That, together with digitization and all the other trends that we have in IT have elevated our awareness of what’s going on.”

When it comes to pilfering data from major companies, hackers tend to target anything that has the potential to make a big splash in the news.

“They do want something that the public is going to be aware of and that the media is going to bring attention to,” Sharun explains. “Any time that you start looking at something about a person and something about them that’s very private, that is obviously going to be a target for them, from a headline side. They look at personal information on day-to-day activities that people don’t really think twice about. And all of a sudden, it’s hacked, and that becomes news.”

Downtime can be very costly for businesses, often causing them significant financial losses. In order to reduce those costs and the amount of data lost, Sharun believes companies should consider adopting a standardized strategy that involves the use of a single data protection vendor.

“Data loss and cost (increase) if you have more than one vendor involved,” he says. “When you have a standardized strategy to do data recovery, backups, restores and business continuity, the amount of data that you lose goes down dramatically, as do the costs around that.”

From a Canadian standpoint, if enterprises “have three or more data protection vendors, on average, they lost 7.2 terabytes of data per year,” says Sharun. “If you had one data protection vendor, you only lost 0.3 terabytes, which is less than 5 per cent of the data you lost if you had three or more.”

It’s one thing to have a reliable data loss prevention strategy in place, but it’s another to ensure that strategy actually works as advertised. Sharun highlights some best practices that can rescue business from data loss woes and the ensuing downtime.

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You need to make sure that all parts of your infrastructure, all the way out to your user is very strong and resilient,” he says. “You need to have it consistent and in line with the business’s backup principles and policies. Also, you should have policies around restoring data, (such as) where it’s located.”

One trend that has been on the rise recently is the use of multiple data centres to store data. This can be beneficial to business, as if issues occur in one data centre, the other can continue to run.

“We see more and more of our customers starting to move towards active data centres, where they can run on either data centre the applications that they have,” says Sharun. “There’s technology there, and a lot of customers use EMC to provide them with the ability to move that data and have it in more than one location. If something happens in one place, the business remains running and is unaffected in the other (data centre).”

As bad actors and other unsavoury, data-stealing characters find new ways to compromise the digital security fortresses set up by large corporations, the need to have better protection and establish a comprehensive disaster recovery plan becomes increasingly important. Sharun indicates that technology is no longer as limited in what it can do for businesses, thus creating more opportunities for them to fight these threats.

“I think that as we continue to move forward here, technology is at a level now where it is no longer limited. Before, it was very limiting in terms of doing what you needed to do to protect your data. You couldn’t move data very quickly, and there were limitations on the speed to move from one data centre to another,” he says.

“I would say that from a recoverability and integrity perspective, those issues have gone away,” adds Sharun. “Technology has developed and evolved so that you can have multiple data centres and store data in different places, and you can have applications running seamlessly in multiple locations so your business isn’t at risk.”

Data management and encryption methods have also evolved, giving enterprises the ability to arm themselves for battle against hackers.

“From a security perspective, the technology is there today to easily have you manage your data, even though it’s encrypted both at rest and in flight,” Sharun says. “The encryption across multiple sites and the idea of encrypting that data as it moves so no one can actually read that information is available today. Even if you go out into a cloud environment, you can keep the keys to that encryption so that no one else can get at it, other than yourself.”

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