The economic benefits of Cloud Data Management

To understand how to quantify Cloud Data Management, or in the broader sense of “modern data protection,” start with the basics.

The economic benefits of “simple” BACKUP include:

  • Reducing lost work due to systems’ or storage failures (or cyber-attacks) which would otherwise require employees to recreate what was lost or corrupted
  • Reducing fines and penalties associated with failure to retain data as mandated by regulatory or compliance directives

If the only thing that you did was create and retain previous versions or copies of your data, you would see the benefits above. If you build on those, the economic benefits of RAPID and RELIABLE RECOVERY include:

  • Reducing lost productivity by employees while systems are offline and being recovered. In today’s multi-faceted workplace, most employees could technically move between platforms — e.g. if email is down, they could work on CRM or standalone documents, or vice versa. Those employees may not be “idle,” but they are certainly less-productive (i.e. consider their productivity at 50%-75%). That said, there are industries such as customer service, retail and manufacturing that really do have that single application that users rely on — and are truly idle during downtime.
  • Incremental reduction of lost work hours and reduced fines from the backup benefits above, due to users more readily gaining access to the restored data.

Note that the economic “benefits” of better backup and reliable recovery are actually “reduced losses.” That is not a misnomer, nor does it devalue backup and recovery. Think of downtime and data loss like leaky plumbing in your home or office. Pipes leak; IT breaks; that is just reality. You pay for the water that you use, and you pay for the water that you lose. Fixing leaky pipes and more rapidly and reliably recovering from IT issues saves money that would otherwise be lost. As another common motto teaches, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Cloud Data Management starts with ensuring successful backup and recovery, and then builds on it by unlocking additional capabilities… and therefore additional business and economic value. Looking at the other four facets of Cloud Data Management:

The economic benefits of Cloud Mobility are both direct and indirect:

  • Direct economic benefits further reduce downtime during migrations and disaster recovery, as those restoration windows (discussed earlier) are even shorter and more agile as workloads are relocated proactively (migration/mobility) or reactively (disaster recovery) to new hosting platforms.
  • Indirect economic benefits are the reduced operating costs of moving from self-managed physical (or virtual) servers to a cloud-hosted infrastructure, or vice versa, based on ever-changing business requirements for where your data resides versus who in your organization needs access to it.

The economic benefits of Governance & Compliance include:

  • Reduced or significantly mitigated impact of cyber-attacks and other malicious events, due to both reactively recovering non-compromised data but also proactively leveraging your data protection technologies to 1) test protected data for aberrations, 2) ensure recoveries are clean, and 3) aid in post-cyber forensics via quarantined DataLabs.

The economic benefits of Orchestration & Automation include:

  • Reduced labor doing repetitive tasks related to patch testing, risk mitigation during application development/DevOps, or data mining/reporting — by scripting and orchestrating storage access to secondary copies for data re-use.
  • Improved recovery (further reduced downtime) during crises by scripting recovery tasks, recurring testing of recovery plans, and increased success when crises actually happen.

For each of these, there are other potential economic benefits, but perhaps these will stimulate your imagination. Beyond the capabilities, it is important to also recognize that many of the value claims or savings expectations above have to be categorized as either hard or soft costs:

  • Hard costs are those easily quantifiable or calculatable measures, such as downtime and data loss, which equates to either completely idle or the percent of encumbered employees (multiplied by their profitability contributions as well as their HR costs). This is explained in the “Calculating the Cost of Downtime” chapter in a Dummies book that I wrote last year: Data Protection by the Numbers for Dummies (use link to http://vee.am/DPN4d).
  • Soft costs are often less immediately quantifiable, because they are less about “How much downtime do we have today versus what would we reduce by better recoverability?” and more about “What is the value to the business if we could ____________?” (fill in with automate X, enable Y, integrate with Z, etc.). Each of those initiatives does have value to the business, but requires that both the technical and business/operational stakeholders determine a perceived value that the organization would gain (or reduce loss) by implementing.

TCO and ROI can be “as much art as science” in truly understanding economic benefits of transformational IT technologies or methodologies. But hopefully this gets you started.

If you want to continue the conversation, ping me on Twitter as @JBuff.

Jason Buffington
Jason Buffington
VP, Solutions Strategy
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