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Plan data protection strategy around business case: Storage Decisions speaker

In his Storage Decisions keynote, Jon Toigo tells admins to be wary of hot technologies and to plan a data protection strategy around a solid business case.

CHICAGO -- Storage organizations need to plan their data protection strategy around a solid business case instead of buzzword technologies, Jon Toigo told Storage Decisions attendees during his keynote speech on the final day of the show.

In his Tuesday keynote on building a service-oriented data protection strategy, the CEO and managing principal at Dunedin, Fla.-based Toigo Partners International said the best way to protect a business is to create a data protection service model. He urged storage administrators to create a data protection strategy based on business needs and the type and amount of data they must protect to run mission-critical applications.

"Businesses are so lean and working close to the bone that they're brittle," Toigo said. Even small service interruptions can make a huge impact on a company's survival chances.

He advised organizations to align business goals and data requirements with available protection techniques "so that the proper protection is provisioned to data at creation and at the right cost," Toigo said.

To create a comprehensive data protection strategy, an organization must analyze its business processes, identify its critical data assets and align available data protection tools. Toigo said that kind of strategy can avoid overspending on unnecessary technologies, equipment and software.

An analysis of the business process should determine an organization's most important business processes, tasks and underlying data assets. The next step is to determine what type of protection different data assets require, such as transactional databases that may need the top data protection services available. Determine "which tool to use for each job," he said. "Then you can categorize the data by critical need, time to data and asset size."

After that, he advised administrators to assign services to protect data according to business process, regulatory requirements and integrity needs to create a data protection service model.

Toigo also believes there are no all-inclusive solutions in the current market, and that a blend of technologies and vendors is required for a serious data protection service model. "You can't do this with current stovepipe architectures," he said.

Watch out for overblown technologies

Toigo made it clear that some of today's storage technologies – including server virtualization – are overhyped. He admitted virtualization has its place, but should be considered just another tool in a data protection strategy, like replication or data deduplication. Toigo said he uses virtualization in specific instances, such as in-house testing where he can start and drop virtual machines to facilitate product and standards reviews.

He criticized thin provisioning as a high-tech shell game that convinces a system it has more storage than data, even when that's not true. He said virtual tape libraries should not be used to replace tape, and as for cloud computing, "the jury is still out for me with the clouds."

Toigo also nudged the storage industry to develop standards. Vendors should adopt World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web services standards, he said, and large vendors such as EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard (HP) Corp. and IBM need to adopt standards-based technology so customers can understand what's under the hood when deciding which vendor to choose for their computing environment.


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