Joining the Digital Dots: What’s your worst data storage story?

What’s your worst data storage nightmare? Feel free to comment, I’ve got a few, but I do have a personal favourite.
A few years ago, I visited a company who wanted to talk Business Intelligence to me. In order to get an idea of the quality of their technical estate, I started to ask about their existing processes about the data. For example, how do they back up their SQL Server databases? What do they have in place for storing data now, and what’s their future plans for SQL Server.

Well, it turned out that they had a very mysterious plan for storage. They placed backup on on a USB hard drive, which was located on their premises – but that was their only data storage facility for backup. The killer for me was that, when the USB drive was full, they started to back up data to the receptionist’s computer because ‘it wasn’t busy during the day’.

I am sure, dear reader, I don’t need to tell you what’s wrong with this storage ‘strategy’, but let’s list a few ideas out…

Simply put, having everything on the premises was a bad idea since the data was business critical. Further, if their premises were ever burgled, the first thing that would disappear would be the receptionist’s computer given its proximity the front door. Given that the USB Hard drive was being shunted from desk to desk and easily accessible (and pinchable!) this could only be considered a temporary dumping place for data at best.

The resolution was simply to offer the customer a cloud storage strategy, which they could easily afford and put in place quite simply. This was a nimble solution for a small to medium enterprise, who can’t afford the data centres and other facilities of larger organisations.  This is what happened, and the organisation was quite happy once they’d been advised properly, and understood the cheapness of the cloud solution versus losing all their data due to critical loss, theft or simple plain bad luck.

Looking at data is no longer about looking at only one technology, a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Knowing about the storage is a critical part of looking after data, and there are plenty of options to help organisations to sort themselves out with a strategy on storage.

Since I run into these horror stories SQL Server customer scenarios quite often, I was happy to see that there are plenty of solutions around that will help.  Azure offer a Windows Azure Backupthat helps organisations to protect important server data off-site with automated backup to Windows Azure.  Another option to consider is Cloud Integrated Storage is something that organisations can leverage so that they get ‘the best of both worlds’ – a balance of cloud and on-premise storage. Microsoft have a spin-off company, called StorSimple, who can help you to achieve cloud integrated storage.

As a technical influencer in your organisation, you’ll need to know about the options available to you. If you like an in-person event, please take a look at the Cloud OS Community Relay, which is holding free training days on Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. These are the ‘latest and greatest’ from Microsoft, and you can find more information here about the Cloud OS Community Relay. It’s organised by MVPs for the community, and I’m one of the UK MVPs helping to organise SQLRelay.

You might be interested to know about the SQLRelay events, which are more SQL Server focused and run alongside the Cloud OS Community Relay. You can find out more here, or if you’d like to come to the Hertfordshire event on 15th November, please take a look hereIn the meantime, I’ve put some information about StorSimple below in case you’d like to take a look.

Cloud Integrated Storage: StorSimple
StorSimple cloud-integrated storage provides primary storage, backup, archive, and disaster recovery, combined with Windows Azure. This allows you to optimize total storage costs and increase data protection and service agility. With StorSimple, you can integrate the public cloud with on-premises storage to reduce datacenter infrastructure complexity, maximize data protection, reduce overall storage total cost of ownership (TCO) by 60-80%, and provision storage more rapidly to reclaim IT time cycles

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