Classification + protection = a safe organisation
As 3DR makes its way into the Indian market, technologies
like CDP and ILM seem to be the tools for organisations aiming to make sure
that their data is classified well and protected better. Rishiraj Verma
an organisational imperative to make sure that data is available at all times.
Another important objective is to ensure that the available data is also secure.
It is to help organisations accomplish these two goals that technologies such
as CDP (Continuous Data Protection) and ILM (Information Lifecycle Management)
enter the picture.
Here we take a look at the roles of CDP and ILM in the enterprise when it comes
to data classification and the ability to continually protect it.
CDP: Concept and Functioning
The data that organisations store today is rising at very high rates. This increasing
quantity and the always-on nature of organisations make them realise the need
to protect data constantly.
Be it an insurance company with its list of claims or a BPO firm with its numerous
clients, the aim is to keep all this increasing data safe at all times. Another
motivation to protect data is compliance measures, which may call for any bit
of data at any point of time.
CDP is one of the most helpful concepts currently in vogue. Manufacturers insist
that CDP is a concept and not a technology, which is what makes defining the
term difficult. However, in its purest form, the concept means the ability
to restore data to about any point in time. This may be done by applying the
concept to the organisations replication software, or as a stand-alone
software, says Heidi Biggar, Analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.
Its different. The basic
function of CDP is to make sure that all modifications in an organisations
data are recorded at the time of change, as stated by Biggar. This granular
manner of back-up is meant to ensure that if a file or entire system is affected
by a virus, trojan or even disaster, the most recent copies can be retrieved.
The term continuous therefore is what marks out CDP from other data
protection technologies available in the market today. As Soumitra Agarwal,
Marketing Director, NetApp India explains, CDP can give you more frequent
back-ups and rapid restores. This, according to him, can drastically shrink
the back-up window and save the organisation much valuable time.
Says Avijit Basu, Country Marketing Manager, Enterprise Server
and Storage, HP, The biggest difference with CDP is that it is application-centric.
He states that CDP basically adds a lot of speed to back-up and restore
There are other major advantages which CDP can bring to an
organisation. Rajendra Dhavale, Consulting Director with CA, points out the
incremental nature of back-ups that CDP facilitates. You can roll back
even a few minutes back in time to restore modified data. Biggar further
states that CDP is similar to snapshots in many ways, but it is more space efficient.
These comments may be able prove that CDP, while protecting data to what may
be termed an optimum level, also acts as a time-saving factor for organisations.
This dual advantage is probably the reason why a large number of organisations
are moving towards CDP.
Challenges it may solve.
It is a known fact that protecting data can be a challenging task, not just
for large enterprises but for small and mid-sized firms as well. Market vendors
told us of some of the problems they face on the path to protecting their data.
Vivekanand Venugopal, Director, Software Solutions, APAC,
Hitachi Data Systems, specifically spoke about the SMB segment. These
organisations work in a manner so that they cannot be dependent on just the
primary site for back-ups. He says that most of the organisations that
fall in the SMB segment are bandwidth-sensitive. This, according to him, may
cause them to look at only a limited number of options to regularly back-up
Agarwal points out that security may be a major challenge that organisations
face while protecting or even while backing up data. It is highly possible
that an insider threat may occur during the process of back-up. He says
that critical data may fall into the hands of unauthorised employees, and hence
the need for constant backing up.
But as Basu remarks, Back-up challenges are different
for different types of organisations. According to him, larger organisations
may be more concerned about their large databases and want to cut down on the
number of back-up windows. SMBs, on the other hand, look for flexibility and
reliability of the back-up applications they use.
Sunny John, Country Manager for India, Quantum, has something
to add. With regulatory compliance requirements in place, many businesses
today are legally required to use formal data protection and thus are becoming
increasingly concerned about protecting their data. He points out that
losing key data may result in huge losses to an organisation.
A number of organisations use data that needs to be updated regularly. It is
such data that needs to be protected in an even superior manner. Talking about
data loss, while important information is being worked upon, relying only on
a nightly back-up system may prove fatal to the organisation irrespective of
its size. Thus, another detail goes on to prove the growing importance of CDP
in the enterprise.
But some people are also of the
view that ILM is a lot of hype and not much is really happening on the
front. Insists Venugopal, The concept is pretty hyped. There arent
any full fledged implementations around.
Future CDP. With positive
remarks coming from analysts and vendors, it can be said that the future of
CDP definitely seems bright. Organisations have already realised the importance
of their data and protecting it. Soon they may realise the importance of protecting
it on a continual basis rather than a daily or weekly one. This is one way of
making sure that CDP doesnt get written off as just another buzzword.
Talking strictly from the DR perspective, ILM is a term that has been much
talked about in the industry for a couple of years now. The concepts major
aim is to make sure that organisations achieve the most cost-effective means
to store the most important data.
Of the many functions that ILM as a concept can provide to the organisation
(vis-à-vis automation, review, classification, etc), the most important
one, according to manufacturers, is classification. Vendors say that it is this
aspect of ILM which makes sure that the right data is backed up to the right
level and stored for the right time.
Basu comments, From its birth to death data goes through various stages,
and ILM plays an important role in giving character to this data, marking it
important, critical and so on. He explains that ILM is slowly moving on
from being just data classification to being more specific. ILMs
focus is now specifically on database archival.
But some people are also of the view that ILM is a lot of hype and not much
is really happening on the front. Insists Venugopal, The concept is pretty
hyped. There arent any full fledged implementations around. He feels
that the reason for this is the lack of data classification tools.
Agarwal is a little more optimistic. Till very recently it was all talk,
but now a few customers have started to look at it seriously. He explains
that ILM may be very helpful to the organisation as far as DR is concerned,
but technologies available as of today may not be sufficient to make the concept
work as a whole.
John concurs. The most critical and difficult part of ILM is the classification
of information according to its importance, but solutions to perform this critical
function are not mature yet.
Looking at these views, it can be said that ILM may have achieved the status
of most-talked-about-concept in the industry, but it still has a
long way to go as far as its real implementations are concerned. What may be
needed is the right set of technologies to prove that the concept can really
hold water when supported with the correct technology.
The advantages of ILM.
There are however positives which the concept can bring to the organisation.
According to Agarwal, ILM may be able to assure the organisation of data
integrity and data authenticity. He adds that this concept may be able
to make sure that regular back-ups are taken without too much crammed information.
Venugopal talks about a fluid storage structure. Application
classification and optimised storage of applications is what will give organisations
a good storage structure. He links these points to ILM, saying that the
classification function which ILM brings along with itself can help organisations
Dhavale simply says that an organisation with ILM versus one without it could
be as good as structured processes versus random tools and technology. According
to him, this is the mindset that organisations need to acquire if they have
to set the data priorities right.
The larger picture. Like
any other good concept, ILM too may not be able to work in isolation.
Many believe that ILM works as a complementing concept for others such as 3DR.
This could make organisations think of ILM as a necessity in the near future
rather than as just a concept that they could implement.
So how can ILM fit into a 3DR set-up? Will it serve its purpose if it works
with 3DR? Are there any hindrances in adopting the concept? Vendors try to answer
Opines Agarwal, The idea of a 3DR set-up is to make sure that dataand
business critical data at thatis always available and secure. ILM may
be helpful here in that you can use it to understand what data is more important
than others and needs to go on tape. He says that this will act as a major
cost and time saving factor for organisations which have a lot of data to take
Dhavale feels that any organisation today needs to have process-oriented management
of its data since there arent any specific standards as far as lifecycles
of information are concerned. He says that this is the reason why organisations
need to adopt this concept so that standards can be set and all organisations
are able to manage data carefully. As far as 3DR is concerned, he is of the
opinion that it is 3DR that fits into the ILM set-up and not the other way around.
Your 1D, 2D and 3D are all decided when you classify and index data according
John points out that ILM fits well into a 3DR set-up with each class of
data residing in the right type of storage with the right back-up and recovery
strategy. He feels that ILM helps in deciding the most critical data and
therefore everything else can be dumped on tapes, thus saving costs.
Basu feels that ILM can definitely fit into the 3DR set-up but the ILM-3DR
marriage may take a little while.
What may happen. As of
now, the future of ILM may be uncertain, given the fact that most vendors are
of the belief that it is only talk. A possible connection with DR however is
a different story altogether.
Agarwal remains optimistic and says that a lot of third-party solutions and
software may help ILM on its way to becoming an integral part of 3DR. I
feel that the BPO and IT-related industries will be the first to adopt this
concept. They always need to reduce costs.
Basu feels that ILM has definitely improved over the past few years. According
to him, the search engines used for retrieving data have now become much stronger.
He thinks that the future is positive for ILM. Much software is getting
evolved, particularly to help ILM. Many vendors are also looking at e-mail and
database archiving. There is also more focus on the DR perspective.
On the money factor John says, Because of the decreasing price of low-cost
disc systems and virtual tape libraries, they may be used as secondary storage
according to ILM and for fast restores in 3DR.
So while scepticism follows ILM to its deepest roots, there may still be hope
for its future.