Have you ever heard of the black swan theory? This proposed idea was developed out of the necessity of trying to make sense of unexpected and disruptive events. Massive events that are categorized under the black swan theory are things such as WWI, or the rise of the Internet, etc. In a nutshell, it has been proposed that any event that happens outside of what normally occurs and causes intense interruption to daily life can be considered a black swan event. It can be good or bad, and once it is predictable, it can become rationalized.
The problem lies in trying to determine an event’s predictability. It might surprise you to hear that the originator of this theory is not in favor of certain financial investments because of how volatile the markets are. The foundation of this theory is all about awareness towards vulnerability in order to steer clear of unexpected and disruptive events.
It is likely not a shock to hear that the world of IT is not well-protected against the types of events described above. Did you know that studies have shown that approximately half of backup tapes will not restore correctly? Though many backups are not working properly, most people are aware of how awful data losses can be. Unfortunately, finding areas of vulnerability within the backup sphere isn’t always done easily and therefore predicting future failures can sometimes fall to the wayside. Stories pour in by the handfuls about accidents that end up utterly devastating an IT department.
For example, there are stories of employees religiously backing up their data to tape, but ultimately failing to see the server hasn’t been working for months. On the flip side, there are stories about frozen pipes or faucets causing ceilings to collapse, ultimately leading to the destruction of entire SANs. Talk about disastrous! The sad truth is that if there is the possibility of something going wrong, it likely will. If you have ever heard of Murphy’s Law, then you are no stranger to this concept.
In order to proactively protect your data, you must consider the likelihood of a variety of black swan events. This awareness is vital to the overall safety of your data environment. The good news is that there are tools which exist today that can help users with backup monitoring and reporting. In fact, many of these solutions are capable of constantly watching your environment – quickly identifying problems and sending real-time alerts in the event of a failed or missed backup. When you have the right tools which can identify problems in a swift manner, you are setting yourself up for success. Time is of the essence when it comes to sending an alert. This is because timeliness ensures that the right information will still be available to aid with resolution.
Even better yet, the right tools will help categorize the problems so that ‘identification’ will be easy. With real-time alerts, departments are generally able to fix a problem before disaster strikes.
The beauty of the solutions that exist today for proactive data protection is that many of them utilize historical data and look at trends in order to find a possible problem before it becomes a reality. This is excellent news, because who would know otherwise if one day some of your servers just decided to go belly up? With the help of effective tools, problems will be forecasted and identified long before they become disruptive. Many feel that trying to pinpoint potential disasters isn’t worth it; but rather they feel that appropriate preparation to protect against black swan disasters is sufficient.
On the flip side, being ready to utilize a positive black swan event (such as the Internet) is a good rule of thumb for most people. Users today can rest easy knowing that tools are readily available to provide proactive data protection. The truth is that the reality of a top-notch backup environment is a reassuring thing in a world that sees negative black swan events now and then.
Jason Zhang is the product marketing person for Rocket Software's Backup, Storage, and Cloud solutions.
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