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New Business Continuity Software Should Not Require A Leap of Faith

There is one word more so than any other that strikes fear in the hearts of systems administrators, data center managers and CIOs: Change. It’s ironic that change carries such a negative connotation in businesses and especially in IT. IT is one of the fastest changing components within business and failing to plan for and make regular changes to its IT infrastructure is a recipe for a company loosing its competitive edge.

Companies may incorrectly view technology purchases in the same context as the purchase of a piece of furniture. When an organization purchases a chair, a table or a desk, the assumption is that the piece of furniture will essentially last forever (15 to 20 years). However companies should exercise caution to not apply the same mindset to technology purchases. The problems that hardware and software were designed to solve 5, 10 or 15 years ago are very different than the types of problems confronting companies today and no where is that more true than in enterprise data protection and business continuity software.

In previous blog entries I have gone into some detail how existing models of enterprise data protection and business continuity software may not satisfy today’s business requirements. However navigating the transition from old to new data protection technologies like InMage SystemsScout that meet today’s challenges is more complicated than just wheeling an old piece of furniture out and wheeling a new one in.

Too often, companies don’t have a solid handle on how their current data protection software works, what its impact is on servers, what will occur if they remove it or how the new data protection software will perform. The lack of information about how the proposed data protection software will the impact the company’s infrastructure puts everyone from the CIO down to systems administrators on edge. As a result, it leaves them reticent to make substantive yet needed changes to their IT infrastructure.

The information that companies need to gather in order to have the confidence to make these changes and then implement them includes:

  • Advanced data collection. While data collection may include gathering of base line information like the application, operating system, server hardware, etc., companies need more detail on how their applications operate during the day. This should include monitoring and gathering CPU, memory and network bandwidth consumption when specific applications kick off, what time these applications runs, how long they run and peak periods of activity.
  • Modeling capabilities. Gathering the information is only part of the battle. To have confidence that they can deploy new applications, companies need to document the impact that current applications have on their servers as well as model and forecast the impact that the new application will have on their server as well.

Change is a necessary component to not just every organization’s health but its ongoing survival. Making it so the prospect of changing out one technology for another does not strike fear in the hearts of individuals is a totally separate challenge but one that vendors need to appropriately address. Vendors can not and should not expect companies to take it on faith that their products will work as good as or better than existing technologies that companies already have in place. Companies should expect their vendors to provide them with a mechanism to gather the information they need and model how their environment will look so they can have the confidence that they can make such a change safely.

In this respect, InMage Systems’ Scout includes a modeling feature as part of its software called Profiler. It documents how the current production environment behaves with the current data protection software in place. However it also predicts the amount of data that changes daily, how well the data compresses and how much bandwidth that Scout would consume if implemented. By first using Profiler that is a part of Scout, companies can get before and after snapshots of what Scout’s impact will be on their environment without taking a huge leap of faith that few individuals in most companies are usually prepared to take.


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