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Data protection, apples, gravity and a slight concussion

StorageExperts

BylineJ.jpgBy Neil Fleming, HP StoreOnce Product Manager (and Sir Isaac Newton)

 

We’ve discussed a couple of times on our BURA Sunday posts that data protection is often like selling an insurance policy for your primary storage, or more accurately, your data. But what compels you to change insurance policy? What drives transformation within a data protection environment from the status quo to a next generation, flexible solution?

 

Often times, data protection is thought of as backup and backp that’s a collection of dusty tapes stored in a cupboard. What elevates data protection to your boardroom to be discussed in a value-add, ROI-type conversation?

 

With these sort of questions I am reminded of Newton’s Laws of Motion and propose Fleming’s Laws of Data Protection.

 

Newton1.jpgNewton’s First Law of Motion: An object will either be at rest or move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an unequal force. Examples of ‘F’ (Force): Gravity, lift, thrust, drag, friction, tension, magnetic….

 

Fleming’s First Law of Data Protection: A data protection environment will remain as it is, Newton1.jpgunless acted upon by an unequal force. Examples of ‘F’ (Force): Disaster, failure, legislation, budget change, data growth….

 

Does these scenarios sound familiar? You’re using a backup app that is four versions behind the latest. You have a backup schedule that hasn’t been touched in five years, You’re running on an old server that went EOL three years ago. You’re backing up to a six-year-ld tape library. Yet you may also say that you’ve never lost data, never had to do a major restore, or not subject to any legislation (as far as they are aware), and so on. Without some external force acting on the data protection environment, it’s likely you’ll postpone change

 

Let’s consider some of those data protection forces

 

A disaster, or near miss, is almost certainly the most powerful force for change;

 

Failure is often the most common force that drives change. Hardware failure may result in a like for like replacement. So while a hardware failure may drive a purchase, it may not drive change. Backup failures are often viewed as “just the way it is.”

 

Legislation and compliance can be compelling levers, due to the potential risk of fines, loss of business credibility and person risk of prosecution. But often legislation is complicated and poorly understood.

 

Budget is another common force that drives change in environments. As budget shrinks, IT departments try to preserve budget for the new primary storage, servers and applications – IT in the front line that is highly visible. Somewhat counterintuitively, a shrinking budget plus pressure on backup spending can actually provide a powerful motivator to change a data protection environment compelling ROI can be shown.

 

Of course, the art of data protection selling hinges on selling the insurance upfront – buying an insurance policy AFTER the compelling even has hit you is too late.

 

Newton2.jpgNewton’s Second Law of Motion: The force to accelerate an object is directly proportionate to the mass multiplied by the acceleration (rate of change).

 

Fleming’s Second Law of Data Protection: The effort required to address a data protection Newton2.jpgissue is proportionate to the size of the environment multiplied by the desired rate of change.

 

Newton’s Second Law of Motion describes inertia; that is, how much force required to change the movement of an object is the mass of the object times the rate of change required (acceleration).

 

Fleming’s Second Law of Data Protection describes the inertia that often exists around such environments; Backup spans over every system, application and data in your business. The sheer mass and complexity of the problem can seem overwhelming. Conversely, the bigger the complexity and amounts of data, the greater the reward. If the budget cycle is short, then the effort, or force, required to move that mass is even greater. In this context the force is really the force of the argument; to change a complex, large environment very quickly will require a massive amount of investment of resource (time, money, people) in a short space of time.

 

Newton3.jpgNewton’s Third Law of Motion: If one object A exerts a force FA on a second object B, then B simultaneously exerts a force FB on A (often summarized as “every force has an equal and opposite”).

 

Fleming’s Third Law of Data Protection: There are always many solutions; as you exert Newton3.jpgeffort to push a solution, other elements are pushing theirs.

 

Newton’s Third Law of Motion describes the concept of forces existing in pairs, for e.g. as the cannon fires, the cannonball is pushing back on the cannon with the same amount of force as the cannon is pushing on it.

 

Fleming’s Third Law of Data Protection suggests that no matter how innovative and compelling our solution is, elements from you or your competitors will throw up roadblocks or alternative solutions with equal force.

 

Let’s assume the compelling event has been a failure of application availability (First law – force, compelling reason for change): you had a major outages over the weekend where applications were unavailable to customers because the network was overloaded.

 

Your network is vast, spanning many data centers, vendors and fabrics and your board wants a guaranteed solution within the next three months (Second Law – Inertia – Size of the Problem x Shortness of Time to Deliver).

 

The network manager is campaigning to soak up all available budget to deploy more switches, HBAs ad NICs, and to move to faster fabric. The data protection manager is under pressure because the backups are creating a large proportion of the load at the weekends. He is being pressured to reduce protection, move backups to other days; he’s campaigning for budget but being told backup is not a revenue generator (Third Law – Opposing Forces).

 

The danger is that due to the inertia and opposing forces, you may find that the project either goes nowhere (resulting in continued risk), or the outcome is a stop gap (12 months later the new bandwidth is consumed and they now have an even more vast, more complicated infrastructure).

 

So what is the answer?

Use the force to refocus the problem and reduce inertia: removing some of the load from the network is a much smaller task than re-inventing the backbone infrastructure in three months. You can bet that focusing on the data protection solution is going to be met with resistance from the network managers. Because they need the additional budget, they need to buy more kit. So to break the deadlock of the two opposing forces within the company, you need to adjust those forces so they align and are actually driving the change.

 

Here's a solution: Produce a business case showing how a small scale backup transformation (replacing some of the tape environment with deduplication appliances and utilizing source side deduplication for the worst offending backup jobs) could be delivered in the time (overcome the reduced inertia) and prevent any further failures in the near term (using the compelling force). Demonstrate that the saving of tape, administration or logistics would provide a fast ROI – and that the savings could fund both further data protection transformation and the network transformation. Because the immediate pressure is removed, the network transformation can take place over a longer, much more realistic period.

 

The result: The opposing force of the network administrators has been turned in to allies who will push the backup project alone to unlock the ROI that will fund the project.

 

Interested to learn more about the “falling apple”? Read up on our Backup, Recovery and Archive solutions.

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