Data security key to business continuity

Keeping data secure, tracking who uses it, and managing it in a way that maintains backup windows and keeps information available to customers, especially after an interruption in service or a disaster, were among the top issues for IT executives, according to those who took part in a panel discussion at the recent Storage Networking World conference in Orlando.

One of the major pain points cited by panelists was around managing hundreds of terabytes to petabytes of data in a way that protects it from outside attacks and keeps it from being compromised or lost during transport.

Ralph Barber, CIO at law firm Holland & Knight LLP in Tampa, Fla., said Hurricane Wilma knocked out several branch offices of his law firm, which has about 450 servers and two storage-area networks that support about 3,000 users.

Barber replicates data between his two data centers — one in Tampa, the other in Denver — for disaster recovery. But the digital tape he also uses to transport information between offices did not help restore systems quickly enough after Wilma hit the state.

“Our challenges have been putting together a suite of services that will allow for disaster recovery and business continuity,” he said.

Barber said that better real-time, online data replication tools would help him set up emergency facilities during a disaster.

“We’re really trying to mitigate [business continuity issues] through backup and replication. With the Miami office down, I have lawyers who can’t service clients and can’t make money for the firm,” Barber said. “What really is attractive to me is to be able to flash over data to a restore and move it to a data center, and then move it to a local office for efficiency.”