Back-up or pack-up?

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Data is the lifeblood of the organisation and any incidents, which stop access or result in a loss of critical data can have serious consequences for the business in terms of day-to-day operations and financial loss. This emphasises the ongoing need for back-up and recovery processes to be in place to minimise the effects of unplanned downtime and ensure the continuity of business processes. Paul Butler, principal consultant at Altiris, warns of the implications of not having sufficient processes in place to deal with the loss of business critical systems and data.

Business continuity has become high priority for IT managers over the past few years as a result of hackers, the events of September 11 and an increasing number of harmful viruses such as the recent MyDoom worm. But it's not only these high-profile incidents that businesses should be concerned about – what happens if a file is accidentally deleted or an employee spills a drink on their laptop resulting in loss of the hard drive? Organisations must have the appropriate facilities in place to deal with day-to-day system threats and minimise downtime – if not, it is likely to pose a real threat to the survival of the business.

According to a survey conducted by research consultancy Dynamic Markets, 60 per cent of corporate data resides on PCs and laptops, but only 20 per cent of firms are protecting their desktop environment as part of their disaster recovery planning and back-up procedure. This can be disastrous if systems go down because there is no process in place to recover the data, causing unnecessary chaos and disruption to the business.

The survey also discovered that 93 per cent of companies suffered unplanned downtime in 2003, with 14 per cent experiencing more than eight hours. In financial terms, the average cost of an hour of downtime in a financial services organisation is estimated to be between £2,106,666 and £5,226,666 – a cost that many businesses would be unable to bear. (Source: Datamation)

It is vital to have a system-wide, back-up and recovery solution to protect every user whether networked, remote, or disconnected, to avoid business interruption. Due to the amount of critical data residing on desktops and laptops, organisations can't afford to rely on human intervention to operate system back-ups and should automate the process, taking the dependency away from individual users who may forget or not have time to back-up their machines. Servers must be protected in the same way to safeguard their operational state in the event of a system failure or unintentional change.

The effects of downtime can be significantly reduced if users are able to quickly restore desktops and recover data. Having an automated backup and recovery solution in place will not only cut out the need for time consuming system re-installations, but it will give users reliable system fixes and instant file recovery capabilities. Avoiding or ignoring the need for these processes will almost certainly cause businesses to fail, following the effects of unplanned downtime and data loss.

Paul Butler, Professional Services Consultant, Altiris
pbutler@altiris.com

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