Backup: what is it good for?

Editorial Type: Comment Date: 2021-04-01 Views: 44 Tags: Storage PDF Version:

This issue of Storage magazine features a particularly readable (and quotable!) interview with backup guru Eric Siron, whose thoughts - predominantly on why organisations just refuse to take backup as seriously as they should - have made for an article that will doubtless provoke some controversy. In truth we could have probably dedicated at least another couple of pages to what turned out to be a wide-ranging conversation that - despite the transatlantic time difference - took up far more of our day than it was intended to.

You can't miss the almost evangelical zeal in Eric's thoughts about the importance of backup: "How do we explain how important this is? If you go to pretty much any technical forum you will see 'Hey, I just got this great new system, now I want to back it up - but I want to do it for free.' Really? Is that what your system is worth to you? Of course there are free backup solutions out there, but is that really the value you're placing on all of your data?"

It's all too easy for those of us working in (or writing about) the industry to assume that everyone sees the world the way we do - but backup is a really good illustration of the huge gap between our perception and that of most business executives. As Eric says in the interview: "The business case is actually very simple: look at your data, and decide what that is worth to you. If it were stolen or lost, what would that do to your organisation? It's like an insurance policy: it sucks to keep throwing money at insurance all the time, until you have to make a claim - and then you're glad you did it."

Surely though, we can't keep building the business case for spending on backup on the idea that organisations will never really understand the need for it until it's too late? What is needed, Eric suggests, is for vendors to be much more upfront about the criticality of backup, to ensure that it is seen as part of the solution from day one. The system, and the need to back that system up, need to go hand-in-hand.

But if organisations don't want to face up to the upfront cost of adding backup to any given solution, how do we get round that? Roll in the price of the backup to the solution cost? It will be a very brave vendor who moves first with that strategy.