by Bud Stoddard, President & CEO, AmeriVault Corp.
To say we have seen a significant downturn in the economy in the past twelve months would be hyperbole at its best. As business and technology executives and professionals, it is incumbent upon each of us to go through the necessary belt-tightening and reassessment of the budget whenever the economic conditions and the stock market make a turn in a southerly direction.
There are the obvious areas we turn to first with the scalpel in hand such as head count, marketing, accounting, human resources, legal, maybe even customer support and information technology (IT). IT often seems like a logical choice because most of us have spent so much money on technology in the past several years. Certainly with IT investments having risen by upwards of 15-20% at most companies in the recent past, this is an area that could stand to go on a fiscal version of the Slim-Fast Program, at least until we climb out of this economic malaise. It is okay to buy less fancy laptops without all the bells and whistles, (I’m writing on my less fancy one now on a Delta flight to Scottsdale, Arizona) defer the web initiative or stretch out the additional hires for a few months but I beg you, for the future health and welfare of your company, accelerate or at the very least, spare your backup expenses.
Allow me to give you my eight best reasons why you should increase your backup budget during these slow economic times. Hopefully, if I am successful, a few of you will suck it up and advocate within your company, the spending of more rather than less on backing up your company’s mission-critical data. But first, the central premise. Electronic information or data, is one of the most critical assets in your business and loss of that data is irreplaceable period. In fact, according to the Disaster Recovery Journal, 43% of all companies will go out of business within one year following a disaster. Could you or anybody on your management team or staff, following a data loss or disaster tell you from memory:
§ What your outstanding accounts receivables are and who owes your company what?
§ Who all your customers and suppliers are?
§ What’s in inventory?
§ What the heck is in that Oracle or SQL database that you spent gazillions for?
You may argue, we have a special data processing rider on our insurance plan that covers data loss and destruction. That is all well and good but getting a check will not replace the data you need for your business to thrive or at the least, survive. You can replace desks, computers, supplies, inventory and even people but data is irreplaceable and its loss could put you out of business. The only viable insurance program for data is to have a fail-safe backup and recovery plan in place.
So, back to those eight reasons to accelerate your backup spending during slow economic times:
1. During rough economic times, it is common to downsize staff and to have to do more with less. Most often, backup will be what doesn’t get done because Joe gets busy with another project and doesn’t have time or forgets because he has too much on his plate.
2. That long-term employee you had to let go after 12 years gets disgruntled and erases some backup tapes on his last day at the office as a little gesture of you hurt me, I’ll hurt you. Do not be mistaken, this happens all the time!
3. You get rid of the expensive courier service that transported your backup tapes off-site to save money and have Phil take the tape home instead. But, did you know that Phil has been secretly planning on starting a company to compete with you and thanks to you, he know has everything he needs to do just that.
4. You defer buying new tape drives and tapes and the equipment fails resulting in incomplete backups so that in the case of an outage or data loss, you have no backup to retrieve it from.
5. To save on the $75 per tape charge, your systems administrator buys fewer tapes. Instead, they just recall the archive tapes sooner before the retention period is up and reuse them so now your backups only go back a day. How often does data loss only go back a day? Not often.
6. Certainly, it is not uncommon for morale to suffer when you tighten the belt and employees tend to get careless and fail to do things by the book. The margin of error as it relates to backup is huge so one slight mistake and your data could be gone.
7. That recovery testing you used to do twice a year has been thrown out the window because there is not enough time or manpower to do it with a reduced staff.
8. Often, when IT resources are limited, IT staff becomes firefighters rather than fire preventers and that can cause you to burn up.
There are very few things, fortunately, that can bring a company to its knees in less than 24 hours. But data loss or destruction is most certainly one of them. Data is your most important strategic asset, regardless of the business or industry you are in. Whether your company is three years old or 103 years old, many talented people, you included, have worked hard to build a first class company. Don’t put the whole company at risk because business is slow and the backup budget was cut, re-evaluate your backup strategy and increase spending as necessary.