Simplifying Data Protection Decisions
by Paul Dunford - Managing Director EMEA of Quantum Corp. - Wednesday, 01 October 2003.
No one doubts that computers have made businesses more fast-paced, efficient and flexible. The clerks of Dickens' day, laboriously entering facts and figures into ledgers, are long gone. The 20th century's legions of secretaries armed with typewriters, carbon paper and filing cabinets have faded away, replaced by administrative assistants, personal computers, and virtual files and folders. Computers have allowed companies to gather, analyse and stockpile vast amounts of data - and then use this information in ways that simply were not possible before the digital revolution.

At the same time that computers have become indispensable to businesses, however, they have opened the door to new avenues of risk. No business can afford to have its operations disrupted by destroyed data, whether from natural disaster, sabotage, human error or mechanical failure. Businesses need to be able to credibly assure their customers that they will continue to provide service, no matter what challenges arise. And, particularly in the insurance industry, businesses need to able to protect and access information on demand for years, sometimes long after a file has been archived.

Just as a business takes precautions against fraud and mismanagement, data protection should be a key element of any risk management plan. Businesses face different risks and have different levels of need, but a sufficient data protection solution should provide continuous access to important information, including a way to efficiently recover information if the access is disrupted. Unfortunately, what sounds simple as a prescription is often not easy to implement.

Data protection is a rich and evolving discipline. Making the right decision about data protection is both challenging and complex because the variety of solutions available today can be overwhelming, and trusted guidance is difficult to find. No one single answer fits all businesses because the best solution is customized to a company's strategies, business processes and information technology infrastructure. At the same time, businesses have a compelling interest in finding the best solution since the design, implementation and maintenance of a data protection system takes time, resources and specific skills. The wrong investment can prove to be a costly mistake.

To prevent making the wrong investment insurance companies need to consider four value propositions before making a purchase decision:

Reliable. If data backup is unpredictable or prone to corruption, there is no level of confidence that data is being protected. Companies should look for technology that has been reliable over time, as well as specific products that are engineered to stand up to daily demands month after month. Solutions should have redundant components and embedded diagnostics, and the solutions provider should have a strong record of standing behind the products.

Flexibility. The best decision today may look different later when other challenges or opportunities arise. Businesses should look for solutions that support multiple technologies, not just a single, proprietary approach. Solutions should be intuitive and should simplify complexity, giving staff the options they need to manage data as conditions change. In addition, flexibility and simplicity keep operational and maintenance costs low and reduce the risk of human error.

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