Online Data Backing Up Constraints & Regulatory Requirements

By: Steven Rodin


Effective implementation eliminates downtime, ensures business continuity
By Steven Rodin
President, Storagepipe Solutions

Despite the growing value and necessity of digital data, many organizations do not take adequate steps to safeguard their data because they do not have the in-house expertise or financial resources.

But information is the lifeblood of many businesses and an increasingly valuable and costly organizational asset. Coupled with this reality are regulatory pressures that mean every business will have to implement a strategy to safeguard their data or face dire consequences.

Unbridled Growth

Exponential does not begun to describe the proliferation of data at the dawn of the new millennium - digital files are not only more numerous but they have ballooned in size as faster computers with increased capacity have been widely adopted in the business world.

But the amount of data and growing file sizes are no longer the most pressing problem - data storage has been commoditized and for most businesses eminently affordable; what poses the biggest problem is managing this data and more importantly safeguarding it from disaster in manner that makes sense for users and of course, easily retrievable.

Complexity Compounds Quantity

While it's no longer feasible to save your important data on a floppy disk that you can carry around in your pocket, large file sizes aren't that much of a problem anymore if data is being stored locally, whether it's on a single office PC or on a shared server. Large organizations nowadays have the benefit of networked storage to handle large amounts of files that must be shared across an organization.

The complexity of this data combined with the variety formats and numerous storage locations mean corralling this data for effective back up poses an enormous challenge for any organization. Even large companies with sizeable IT departments have many conflicting priorities that mean managing a back up strategy can be just one of many demands on their time amidst troubleshooting employee-related problems and capital IT infrastructure deployments.

Regulatory Forces at Work: Privacy...

Simply hosting information for business purposes leads to challenges with the birth of a number of significant regulatory policies in the past decade both in Canada and the U.S. that dictate how third-party information must be managed and governed.

Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), a group of data protection directives that limit trade with nations not providing privacy protection, creates data management and security obligations for any organization.

The law gives individuals the right to know why an organization collects, uses or discloses personal information as well as the right to expect an organization to collect, use or disclose personal information reasonably and appropriately, and not use the information for any purpose other than that to which the individual has consented.

Ultimately, from a data storage point of view, this means organizations that collect third party data must know where it is stored and protect it from being lost.

...Transparency

While some rules and regulations relate to privacy, others relate to transparency. After a slew of high profile corporate accounting scandals, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 established new or enhanced standards for all U.S. public company Boards, Management, and public accounting firms.

The Act contains 11 sections, ranging from additional corporate board responsibilities to criminal penalties, and requires the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to implement rulings on requirements to comply with the new law.

From a data storage view point, this means corporations must be able to provide certain information when required; loss of that data, even if accidental, could lead to severe legal penalties.

Back Up As a Matter of Course

While data protection can be a complex process with multiple steps, these challenges do not preclude any organization from having a back up solution in place, particularly given the technology available.

Backups most often fail because users forget to perform them and then leave the media behind in the computer. For backup to be effective, it has to be a simple, automated function scheduled to occur regularly without any user involvement beyond the initial set-up.

This is especially true for organizations who can not dedicate staff or resources to backing up data.

A backup works best if scheduled for overnight so the event doesn't interrupt workers with slowed computers or hogged bandwidth. Most services allow for data encryption before transmission; this can help allay fears of users concerned about hosting all their data on a shared server.

Online back up boasts a number of benefits:

? Optimization of IT resources

Less downtime Efficient data protection Less risk of untested, unproven backups Protection multi-office remote environments Support for complex multi-platform and multi-application enterprises Ensure regulatory compliance Avoid technological threats Reduction of risk and liabilities Optimize by Archiving

While disk storage is more commoditized than ever before, that doesn't mean some business don't encounter shortages. In additions, the above mentioned regulatory requirements mean companies are often stuck storing data they rarely access but must retain.

By moving to an online back up model, organizations can electronically archive files that aren't required for the day-to-day operations for the company and reduce capital expenditures by avoiding additional purchases of data storage hardware.

Electronic archiving provides an automated policy-based solution to create point-in-time archives that move older and inactive data off of production equipment and out of normal active backup cycles. Archives can keep point-in-time copies of important data for many reasons including regulatory or bookkeeping requirements.

Managed data archives can be managed for a defined lifetime through the policy-automation engine, just like backed-up data. You can quickly and easily retrieve the archived data, control and manage your data and effectively extend your data storage capabilities without the need for more expensive online storage.

Electronic archiving eliminates any worry about media corruption; obsolescence; storage conditions; retrieval; hardware obsolescence and malfunctions; media alignment issues; oxidization; and re-catalogue and sorting issues.

Storagepipe Solutions provides world-class corporate data protection solutions including online backup and recovery, data and email archiving and business continuity. Storagepipe allows businesses of all sizes to decrease operations costs and complexity, optimize IT resources, reduce risks and liabilities, and protect more data more efficiently and reliability. Storagepipe combines extensive industry experience with the best technology solutions to exceed customer expectations and deliver the most comprehensive, secure and turn-key online backup and recovery and business continuity services. Additional information about Storagepipe Solutions can be found at www.storagepipe.com.

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