IT Planner: 5 Steps to Continuous Data Protection

Despite a clear need to plan ahead and prepare for unplanned power outages and natural disasters, more than half of all enterprises with IT systems are waiting until something bad happens before making an "insurance'-type investment.  

If there was ever an it initiative that seemed like a no-brainer, it would be continuous data protection: ensuring that a company's IT systems won't lose their family jewels in the event of a power outage or natural disaster. Still, many businesses don't have a CDP plan in place.

A 2007 Gartner study found that about 50 percent of 220 organizations it surveyed were at low levels of data recovery maturity: Stage 0 (no team, no plan) or Stage 1 (a team in place, but no plan).

Michael Osterman, of Osterman Research, told eWeek that business owners certainly understand the liabilities involved in not protecting data, but because data disasters are merely a potential problem, a CDP strategy often isn't put into place until it's too late.

"I just think that it sometimes takes headline shock to make people move on some things-especially when we're talking about potential liabilities," Osterman said. "In other words, if it hasn't happened to them yet, it hasn't happened. But once they read about a data loss case involving somebody else, they're more likely to get something started."

Before something happens to your company, consider planning for and installing some kind of CDP system. Here are five key steps to accomplishing this.

Step 1: Plan Around Staff.

IT managers need to plan CDP strategies around their staff capabilities and in accordance with company policies. Com??ípanies need to anticipate a range of potential problems and create a realistic plan to address both disaster recovery and continuity of essential business processes.

"The key driver in all of this is your people," said Phil Dunkelberger, president and CEO of PGP (for Pretty Good Protection), a security software provider. "They're the ones who handle the data on a daily basis and the ones who will be using the CDP tools to maintain the data. They have to know exactly what to do ahead of time in the case of a disaster, like they do in a fire drill."

Dunkelberger added that enterprises should be sure the CDP plan and its corresponding hardware/software also is designed to work smoothly for remote employees. Analysts have reported that some large companies have as much-if not more-critical company data stored on scattered corporate laptops as they do in their data centers. All these systems can and should be backed up and protected by a good CDP deployment.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...