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5 reasons why data backup strategies fail

On-prem data backup solutions can prove costly, and public cloud solutions may not meet regulatory requirements. Learn how establishing an in-house, consumption-based data backup model can give you the best of both worlds.

Backup isn’t the most glamorous subject in the IT universe, but it’s critical to your business. Lose your data and your business could be lost, too.

Given the importance of the task, running backups on premises has been the go-to approach for most enterprises. The benefits of keeping data behind a firewall are clear from a security and privacy perspective, but there’s a downside too: You’re saddled with large upfront costs for equipment, you need trained staff to run your backups, and it’s hard to scale up to meet new demands quickly. Capacity planning is challenging, too, because you must navigate between the risks of costly overprovisioning on the one hand and running out of storage on the other.

Instead, you might decide to mitigate some of these problems by using the cloud, but the loss of control means there are privacy and security issues. And an unforeseen network problem could stop you from accessing your backup data.

Thankfully, there’s a “best of both worlds” option that offers all the advantages of the cloud combined with an on-premises approach that secures and protects sensitive data and helps you meet various regional data compliance regulations. This is made possible by a consumption-based model for IT, where a vendor offers enterprises a billing, monitoring, and consumption model across their hybrid IT platforms. One service offered in this manner is backup: A vendor can provide an end-to-end service—including the necessary equipment, applications, processes, and management—and deploy it on the client’s premises.

The benefits to your business are significant, including the ability to work with a provider on a payment model that focuses your resources on the most critical aspects of your backup plan. You’ll also free up your staff for more creative, revenue-positive work instead of the drudgery of backup chores, enjoy a simpler approach to costs and billing, and have the comfort of knowing that your provider is closely monitoring your data and keeping you on track as you grow and adopt new workloads. It’s also worth noting the value of having a solid backup plan: Reducing the loss of productive time due to outages can amount to as much as $1.52 million per organization per year.

A blueprint for achieving consumption-based IT with on-premises infrastructure

Here are five reasons why traditional backup strategies fail:

1. Routine tasks take up too much time 

Backup is as demanding as it is important. It involves planning, management, monitoring, and troubleshooting. This is a headache you probably don’t need, given that most IT departments are already overstretched. According to IDC, IT staff spends too much time handling routine tasks such as installing and deploying hardware, monitoring systems, and patching and updating software. Backup, too, is a task that demands a lot of time. In fact, over a given week, IT admin and operations staff spend just 14.5 percent of their time on innovation and new projects that can drive the business forward.

This is why more enterprises are turning to a backup solution based on a consumption-based model instead of trying to handle it in-house. It takes care of the mundane IT tasks on your plate, such as backup, and frees up your IT staff to take on the projects that can really make a difference to your core business. And it can be cost-effective, too. According to IDC’s analysis, the time savings and productivity gains of this approach will be worth $29,037 per 100 users per year.  

The IT department of the past was reactive to the business, providing support services such as patches and updates, or adding new functionality to the company’s operations. Now, at a time when the IT infrastructure is becoming increasingly vital to support the enterprise’s growth, IT organizations must become innovative and proactive, staying ahead of the company’s business needs. That means providing services outside traditional support roles. 

2. Control is lost 

If you’re backing up your data mostly in the public cloud environment and not on premises, your data is more vulnerable. A hospital, for example, wouldn’t back up patient information to a public cloud provider, and often companies want to give extra protection to sensitive information such as customer data or intellectual property. A network issue could suddenly block off access to your backup data, leaving you in limbo for hours. With the public cloud, you can’t completely put to rest nagging worries about data privacy, security, and protection.

The benefit of an on-premises IT consumption model is that you can keep your apps and data secure in your own environment while offloading the heavy lifting to someone else. And you only pay for the data that you back up, eliminating upfront hardware costs. With IT teams facing pressure to minimize risk and cost to the enterprise while delivering IT services quickly, this approach to backup is necessary. A more secure environment mitigates risk which means fewer disruptions.

3. Too much is spent on Capex

It’s a common scenario for IT companies: A new IT project, such as setting up a backup system, means large investments in hardware and software and spending months getting the new system up and running. In the end, you may have a lot of expensive, shiny new hardware sitting there waiting for applications. It’s a costly capital expenditure that represents an old way of looking at IT.

There’s a better way to do this. A consumption-based approach allows business unit leaders to manage their IT costs and align them to revenue and enjoy more flexibility. Under this scenario, the business works with a vendor to set up its backup capabilities on premises, and it is billed for what it consumes each month. The outside IT provider monitors backups to ensure that more capacity is on hand when needed. The company agrees to a minimum level of use but can add more backup capability or less, according to the company’s IT needs. This end-to-end backup solution will typically include back-end storage and management servers, and the software and operating systems for the backup solution.

Another benefit is the IT provider ensures the equipment you have on premises meets your backup needs. Research from IDC has found that some 45 percent of the IT equipment used by a typical large enterprise is more than 5 years old, meaning businesses are paying to manage older, less efficient IT, while modern systems that run on more energy-efficient, newer technology have far better management capabilities and security. The cost and risk of retaining older technology outweighs the benefits of newer technology, and your IT provider will ensure you have the technology you need.

There is also a benefit to IT departments that often feel the pressure to purchase the very latest hardware. A backup-as-a-service provider will install hardware on premises for you and, as long as it meets your requirements for backup, will ensure that you’re not paying for unnecessary upgrades. After all, if most of your road trips are to and from the local grocery store, why purchase a Lexus when a Toyota does the job perfectly well?

4. Capacity planning is a guessing game

Backup capacity planning is a thorny issue for many enterprises. Many now simply estimate how much they will need for the next few years and then purchase the amount of IT equipment that will cover that demand. An added complication is you need to monitor your environment to stay ahead of the organization’s expansion needs or anticipate sudden demand peaks that could overwhelm your current capacity. No wonder few enterprises successfully match capacity and demand, tending instead to take on more storage than they need.

The good news is that under a consumption IT approach, you don’t need to worry about running out of capacity. Generally, an IT provider delivering backup as a service will include a local buffer of capacity that you can dip into as needed. And the provider will constantly monitor your backups to ensure you have enough capacity.

For example, say you back up once each weekday but later decide to also back up on the weekend. A provider that is monitoring your environment can detect that change and proactively add more capacity. And predictive analytics can forecast how much you may need in the months and years ahead—no disruptions to your business and no lengthy provisioning cycles. This is likely music to the ears of IT managers, given that a lack of capacity can have a harmful effect on a company. According to 451 Research, 50 percent of enterprises have suffered downtime due to poor capacity planning.

5. Billing is too complicated

The calculations and estimates that go into tracking cloud usage—monitoring and metering how much data you’re sending over and how often—are often complicated and time-consuming.

When an IT provider takes on this challenge for you, from a billing standpoint, it couldn’t be simpler. For example, if a customer has three servers, a provider could take the biggest single backup for each one during the billing period and aggregate them. So if the first server’s largest backup was 10 terabytes of data, the second host 15 TB, and the third 22 TB, the final tally of billed data would be 47 TB.

This is a simplified billing structure that frees you up from the fear of overpaying as a result of the overprovisioning that often occurs with a traditional on-premises backup solution.

A provider can even handle individual backups by different business units. Two separate departments in an organization might have wanted to keep their backups separate in the past, but both had double the capacity they needed. With a consumption-based model, they are more apt to share, minimizing costs, because at the end of the month, they are paying only for what they use.

Once an organization decides on the amount of backup it needs, it needn’t fret about overcapacity or not having enough. Like your water bill, you pay it, but you don’t need to worry about it. An automotive company, for example, can focus on building great cars instead of worrying about paying for storage devices.

Adopting a pay-as-you-go approach allows enterprises to manage their costs and align them to revenue, while still enjoying incredible levels of flexibility. A business gets billed monthly and pays only for what it consumes. An outside IT provider monitors the company’s usage and adds more capacity as it’s needed.

The approach is very attractive to most organizations, and it’s especially attractive to your CFO, because the model can often be treated as an ongoing operating expense rather than a large upfront capital investment.

If you recognize any of these five limiting approaches to your backup, it may be time to consider a consumption-based strategy. Working with a trusted IT provider to establish a consumption-based approach to IT will give you a great on-premises solution and allow you to avoid investing heavily in an in-house IT infrastructure, while still enjoying the advantages of strong data security and recovery.

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.