IT Life

Backup And Restore Still Haunts IT Managers

An Aberdeen Group study says the traditional challenges continue to plague IT managers, but often in new ways.
Faced with a swarm of new storage demands, most IT managers are finding that the traditional backup-and-restore agonies continue to haunt them--but in different and, often more-challenging ways.

That's the conclusion of a new in-depth study of IT organizations by the Aberdeen Group. "That old standby pain of back up that was out there for 30 years is still there," said David Hill, the research firm's VP of storage research. "There are more and more servers and they all have to be backed up. And the backup process now goes on 24 hours a day seven days a week, not just at night like it was."

In a survey of more than 100 large IT users, Hill found that the backup-restore process still brings the most storage-related anxiety to enterprise IT managers. Noting that nearly 30% of the respondents cited the backup-and-restore challenge as the "cause of the greatest pain," Hill said nearly three-quarters of those managers saw their pain eased somewhat because their storage budgets were increasing.

Hill, who formerly managed a large data center, said many large IT installations are being tested by new technologies and practices. "People are trying to collect more data about things they already know something about," he said. "For instance, we're collecting more RFID data [about] the same things we looked at with bar-code technology."

Another area compelling more storage is represented by the Sarbanes-Oxley federal legislation, which mandates that more extensive accounting records be stored and saved. Hill said the survey revealed that many large IT organizations--in health care, for instance--were collecting significantly more data and are immediately challenged by the necessity of having to store it.

The survey also revealed that another source of major pain to IT managers is the "complexity of managing the growth in storage." Hill said: "Complexity is a symptom of a storage disease for which a prescription may not be obvious. Throwing more money at complexity--technology and/or people--is not necessarily a prescription for success."

He said software complexity and the growing virtualization phenomenon in large installations is pressuring many IT managers, and cited the constant threat of computer viruses as a sword that hangs over all installations. "You have to be ready to restore at any time," Hill said. "When a virus hits, you've got to be able to find the exact time it hit and then go back and restore a minute before it hit."

Hill tried to determine how risk-averse the survey respondents were. He said large companies tend to worry more about taking risks than did small-company users. However, the survey revealed that some users will take some risk if non-critical applications are involved. "I couldn't find anybody taking reckless risks," he said.