caution sign on a computer keyboard
Data can't be taken for granted in the digital age. PHOTO: Fernando Arcos

In the digital age, data and information are as much of a business asset as any building or patent. All businesses today rely on data now more than ever. From global transportation to fantasy sports, most future decisions are now analytically based off of historical data sets.

This is not a trend, but a fundamental shift in the way businesses value their data. Data — particularly that which can’t be reconstructed or recreated — is now a major business asset and needs to be preserved and protected as such.

Addressing Multiple Risks

To address this shift, storage and security of data assets must be a top priority at every level, from IT manager to the C-Suite. Data can no longer be taken for granted, and backup plans must be put in place to ensure the existence and continuity of data for years to come.

There are many challenges to data preservation today.

Data sets are growing so exponentially that average backup or storage solutions simply can’t protect them way businesses need them to. Cyber attacks are real threats.

Hackers after money or power may target an enterprise’s data to sell or hold for ransom. Natural disaster can also wipe out large data sets, especially if it is stored in only one, geographic location.

3 Ways to Protect & Preserve Data

All these factors support the need for data preservation and modern storage solutions to limit the risk of losing one of an organization’s most valuable assets. Here are three tips businesses should consider to ensure their data is protected and preserved forever.

One Form of Backup Is Not Enough

In nature, genetic diversity helps ensure the protection and preservation of species. Genetic diversity is essential for data preservation in storage too.

For the best results, data sets should have a home on multiple storage media, like enterprise tape, disk, flash and cloud storage. Data sets should also have a copy online and offline, and at least one that is geographically dispersed from the others.

While it’s possible for one method of backup to fail or be breeched, diversifying your storage significantly lowers the probability that all forms of backup will fail. Read more about genetic diversity in storage in “Society’s Genome: Genetic Diversity’s Role in Digital Preservation.”

Understand Hidden Costs of the Cloud

The cloud has become the “hip” way to store data in recent years. While the cloud certainly provides immense benefits for enterprises, IT managers really need to do their homework before adopting it as a storage solution.

Cloud storage is very inexpensive to start out, but upfront costs can be misleading. Written in the fine print, the costs of removing data sets from the cloud or transferring cloud providers are exponential and can turn a light, upfront investment into a major headache for IT managers.

If all goes smoothly and the data sets are never needed or used again, the cloud is great; but that is rarely the case. Businesses should investigate not only the benefits of the cloud, but the fine print as well.

Credibility and Experience Is Vital

Cutting costs is a part of enterprise business life, but it shouldn’t be the only consideration when choosing a storage solution.

Storage solutions from reputable companies with many years of experience have distinct advantages in terms of R&D dollars spent and ongoing support. While some solutions may “seem cheaper,” IT managers should approach storage from a reputation and success standpoint, as well as cost.

Justifying the return on investment for storage solutions isn’t always a black and white task, but the more experienced storage organization will be able to clearly identify needs, and the best solutions to meet those needs. This makes it easier when justifying costs to the C-Suite.

Data sets continue to grow exponentially with no sign of slowing down any time soon. Connected devices, improved camera resolution and increased content generation are all great developments, but add to the amount of data to be stored.

Add that accurate data, dating back many years improves the quality of business decisions today, and protection and preservation become even more important.

Data must be top-of-mind from IT manager to CEO. If your organization plans on being around indefinitely, your data needs to come along.