How Companies Are Cutting the Costs of Data Storage While Increasing Effectiveness

While technology has allowed businesses to reduce costs in many areas, proper storage of digital information comes at a price. However, most companies are paying more than they need to for data solutions while getting less protection than they need to keep their data — and their businesses — protected against disaster.

How Lack of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning Can Lead to Financial Disaster

Business continuity and disaster planning is an absolutely essential part of any business operation, yet many place a low priority on implementation. In the digital age, information technology is a critical function of every competitive business. From technology driven businesses to service companies to ecommerce businesses, information is the linchpin that keeps today’s businesses operating competitively and efficiently.

The terms “business continuity and disaster recovery planning” imply the necessity of these critical business functions. Business owners realize the importance of these terms, but it is when they understand what lies within these processes that they realize business continuity and disaster recovery planning aren’t just “important,” they are essential.

Financial Impact of Business Continuity Planning

As a result of government regulations, businesses are required to maintain a continuity posture — whether they realize it or not. Critical applications must be made continuously available or able to be recovered rapidly upon demand. Lack of knowledge or understanding of the laws isn’t a defense. Non-compliance can lead to lawsuits, infractions, and fines that can debilitate a business.

Achieving business continuity isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ task. The process typically starts with a BIA (business impact analysis), which among other things assigns priority to different types of data. The BIA dictates which information will be stored where and how often it is backed up.

If a company is to design business continuity structures itself, it will require significant knowledge and resources to maintain. However, for businesses that aren’t technology focused or who choose not to add the expense of an in-house IT staff, there are practical and affordable outsource solutions, which we’ll cover later.

Financial Impact of Disaster Recovery Planning

According to a study by the Garner Group, forty percent of businesses that suffer a catastrophic data event or significant downtime will never recover. Two out of five businesses that face these situations close their doors for good. This shocking statistic sheds light on just how essential data management is to a business.

What is even more surprising is that a relatively small amount of effort invested in a BIA in conjunction with business continuity and disaster recovery planning, could have prevented the problem in the first place. The BIA would have uncovered the impact of process failure on the business and served as a discovery process for implementing a plan designed to avoid risk.

Reducing Costs through More Efficient Energy Usage

Once a business has addressed business continuity and disaster recovery planning by following recommendations outlined in a BIA, they have taken the critical step to avoid potential financial devastation. The next step is to reduce the very real ongoing costs associated with maintaining data.

The cost of energy used to maintain data storage systems is quite significant. Not only does the IT infrastructure consume energy, a significant amount of energy is utilized to maintain a safe climate for the systems.

The best way to reduce the cost of maintaining data systems is to share the costs with others. By storing systems in a data center colocation, you offset the cost of climate control by splitting that cost with others. Because the data center colocation is managing climate control to protect your machines as well as the machines of others, many costs are shared that would otherwise be your entire responsibility if machines were stored in house. Not only are energy costs shared, but also are the costs associated with the human capital — the experts that maintain the data center colocation day-in and day-out.

Reducing Personnel Costs While Raising the Bar on Expertise

Staffing an IT department is expensive. Not only must employers staff a variety of people each with various skill sets, they’ll also need someone to manage the team. To stay competitive, employers are expected to foot the bill for ongoing training and education. And let’s not forget system upgrades. However, by utilizing managed IT services, companies reduce these capital expenditures, paying on a subscription basis for only the percentage they use.

Managed service providers handle a variety of tasks including virtual server hosting, backups, IT infrastructure management, and more. Some providers will also offer BIA services and the critical business continuity and disaster planning needed to keep data safe and in compliance.

The data management landscape has changed dramatically in recent years — not only in how data is stored, but in the importance of proper security. Data storage itself has become more critical than the days of old when a simple tape drive was all a business needed. However, the options for sharing costs by leveraging outsourced providers has made obtaining high end data management solutions easier than every before. Today’s businesses don’t have to be experts on BIA or business continuity and disaster recovery planning, they just need partner with a provider that is.

Off-Grid Lighting and DC Systems for Performance During and After a Disaster

Up and until now there were no good lighting solutions that could survive a shock, vibration or prolonged periods of being in high humidity environments or submerged in water, yet fully functional once the adverse conditions subside.

Conventional Lighting

Conventional lighting often use metal-halide or some form of mercury laden bulb or tube technology that can easily break due to vibration, concussion or shock. As a result conventional lighting is more likely to be not available in an emergency in addition adding insult to injury poisoning the environment, humans and animals nearby with unhealthy amounts of mercury. Conventional lighting requires larger generators or grid power to operate.

LED Lighting designed for Emergencies and Disasters

State-of-the-art LED lighting can offer a real alternative as the best performing technology during disasters. When designed appropriately, certain LED lighting fixtures lend themselves to be more robust light fixtures outperforming any conventional lighting technology, during and after a disaster.

Unlike any other conventional lighting technology, LED light sources that are appropriately protected, do not suffer from vibration, power fluctuations or humidity. They are able to start immediately at extreme temperatures from -55°C (-56°F) to +60°C ambient temperatures.

As LED light sources are generally driven by low voltage power drivers they lend themselves to be driven from DC power sources like batteries, solar panels or wind mills in addition to being driven from grid power or conventional generators. Due to their much lower power consumption they can provide adequate lighting for a longer period when driven from emergency power sources like generators or batteries.

LED lighting systems can be designed so that they do not lose any light-output with use nor do they change their correlated color temperature (CRI). Although, many main stream lighting brands design for obsolescence, some less mainstream players do provide 10 year warranties on their drivers and guaranteed light output without restrictions, those will be the best lighting fixtures to use for emergency and disaster proof lighting.

Of course quality products that are made from better heat transporting materials are more expensive to make, yet their return of investment (ROI) is normally better than a conventional built-to-fail and therefore cheap lighting product. The better ROI is also due to the high cost of identifying, monitoring and replacing failed lighting bulbs or fixtures which obviously is not required for a lasting and highly reliable light fixtures.

Most importantly in a disaster or after energy sources may be scarce, LED lighting designed for the purpose can run four times longer from a generator producing the same light output of conventional technology. Conventional technology is not suitable to be run off batteries while LED technology can be run with 5 times the efficiency compared to conventional lighting that is run from batteries.

Conclusion

Until a better and even safer way to produce light more efficiently comes along, one can make the now reasonable assumption that LED lighting will be the lighting technology for some time to come.It makes sense to invest into the higher performance LED lighting which saves between 15% and 50% more energy compared to its cheaper and disposable LED equivalent and will perform significantly better during and after a disaster than any other conventional lighting.

After Document Imaging

What to do With All That Paper

Since 2005, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse states that over half a billion personal records have been accidentally exposed in the United States. According to an article on Health Data Management’s website, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth must notify over 200,000 patients due to a records management security breach. Microfiche records containing personal information for patients admitted to the hospital between 1980 and 1990 were found in a Dallas park. These records were said to have been destroyed.

So what do you do with documents, files, microfiche or films once they’ve been scanned? You have two options:

Document Storage

If you choose to store your documents, chances are you already have a system set up. However, if you use a document imaging service, they often have off-site storage options so these files do not take up space in your office or facility. Be aware that some states have laws regarding the storage and disposal of documents. Make sure that you are storing documents in accordance with your state’s regulations.

Since document storage should be a part of your document imaging plan, be sure to think about the end in the beginning of your document imaging project. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with cabinets full of paper files that are improperly or dangerously stored. Planning ahead will protect your business and the privacy of your clients.

Document Disposal

Shredding documents is the way to go here. There are several mobile shredding services that offer secure disposal of your documents. However, you MUST use a service or vendor that you trust. Do your homework. Check up on their references and reviews before making a decision to avoid a mishap like the buried microfiche records. If you have the time and resources, visit the facility where destruction occurs. Require the company to provide a signed service agreement that explicitly outlines the specifics of your relationship. Once the process is complete, demand a certificate of destruction from the service provider. Again, planning ahead will save you and your customers the time and heartache involved in exposed personal information.

Another option is to shred the documents yourself. Remember, though, that there are laws and regulations that you must follow to ensure that your costumers’ information is safe and secure.

Storage or disposal, the decision is yours. However, to avoid a mistake like the one in Texas, make sure you thoroughly research any document imaging or shredding service you choose.