Friday, August 04, 2006

The Evolution of Storage Technologies: Why You Need Disk-Based Rapid Recovery Systems, Not Just Tape

Mainframes have become increasingly central to business resiliency and information lifecycle management strategies. A reliable, resilient platform, mainframes are a logical choice to serve as a core technology for operational continuity and disaster recovery.

Tape storage has traditionally been the primary mainframe backup medium, but it no longer serves the purpose for which it was initially appropriate. Tape still has its place in a disaster recovery architecture, but it no longer sufficiently serves most or all an enterprise’s storage and recovery needs. Tape is physically insecure and a far less efficient means of quickly recovering the full range of information required to restore a business following a catastrophic failure.

Data: When It Absolutely, Positively Has to Be (Lost) Overnight

Tape has made dramatic advances in speed and capacity, but the security problem offsets those advances. Several states have enacted legislation similar to California Senate Bill 1386, which says companies or agencies that lose personal data “shall disclose any breach of the security of the system following discovery or notification of the breach in the security of the data to any resident of California whose unencrypted personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by an unauthorized person.” A similar initiative is being considered in the U.S. Senate, spearheaded by Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

In this new, increasingly regulated environment, the advantages of disk-todisk backup and recovery compared to tape have become clearer. Experts will tell you a true disaster recovery and business continuity plan requires you to ship your information offsite and have it in position to quickly recover when things go wrong. Traditionally, that’s meant shipping tapes from point “A” to point “B,” within a relatively short drive of the main production point. (Large enterprises could spend millions of dollars on failover sites that can have businesses back up and running within moments, but most firms don’t have sufficient funding for that.)

But shipping tapes, even shipping removable hard drives offsite, has taken on increased peril; the list of companies that have reported tapes lost in shipment containing personal information in the last 24 months reads like a “who’s who”: Citigroup, TimeWarner, Amerigroup, Bank of America, and many more. They’re reporting these snafus only because stricter federal laws, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Gramm-Leach-Bliley, require them to do so.

Mary Jander, editor of “Byte and Switch,” an online news site devoted to data protection, put it succinctly: “If you’re dumb enough to send your data off in a can with somebody’s semi-employed driver,” she wrote last July, “you shouldn’t be surprised when things don’t turn out the way you’d planned.”

To read the rest of this article please visit z/journal magazine.

This excerpt is reprinted with permission.

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