A couple of weeks ago, one of the people I follow on our home Twitter account (focused on role-playing and miniature wargames) tweeted “Zombies! This Year’s Vampires Are Zombies! Oh Please Let This Year’s Vampires Be Zombies!!” as a joke aimed at those in the entertainment industry that were riding the fad wave of Vampire films/books/games. Seriously, the show that did the penitent Vampire in the 80s was good, everything portraying a “good-guy” Vampire after that was lame follow-on.
That’s how I feel about high-tech sometimes. “Cloud is This Year’s SOA! Oh Please Let Cloud Be This Year’s SOA! All we have to do is change our marketing material!” seems to be the refrain. The benefits to you the user are often glossed over with the demand that you do something nowbefore it’s too late (eg: Before the Zombies get you!). Security and storage are in the throes of this phenomenon too… I’ll just say “primary storage deduplication” and leave it at that.
And then someone with their head on straight reminds me that we’re still fighting the fires of 2000, let alone solving the problems of tomorrow… In this case it was Howard Marks’ short-but-sweet blog about data loss.
In our home network, Lori and I use copies and RAID to keep our backups, there is not a ton of timestamping and versioning except – as is the case in Howard’s blogs – the external facing stuff. I know many (too many) small to medium businesses and even a few departments in larger organizations that use the same type of methodology. Replication will help in the event of a hardware failure, but can cause you heartburn if the database is systematically destroyed through queries. While Howard is a bit sharp on snapshots, they can be a lifesaver, though they’re not a panacea either.
And the statistics on the quality of backups and the number of people who even bother to validate them are horrendous. Why bother if you’re not checking the quality?
Look at the old problems, the ones we’ve been fighting for years, and ask yourself a couple of questions…
Have things changed technologically that make a different way better?
Is the problem we were working on/ignoring/pondering four or ten years ago resolved?
Regardless of the future of the infrastructure in your IT department, IT is the guardian and steward of both data and systems. Don’t lose sight of that in the rush to deploy shiny new solutions. Of course every vendor believes they have solutions to help you do things better - have I mentioned WOM or ARX lately? But the place to start is an evaluation of where you are, what infrastructure/systems/needs you are weak in, and only then go looking for a solution to them. Using WOM to back up to a remote datacenter is a good solution – if you need it – as is using ARX with a Cloud Storage Gateway – again, only if you need it. But what you do need is assurances that no matter what the nightmare unleashed upon your IT department – be it trojan, file integrity issues, or selective DB deletes, that you have a route back to working systems with consistent data. If you can’t guarantee that today, I’d start figuring out how to do so… Quickly.