Optimising Cloud Backup Storage

Tue, 29/09/2015 - 11:22
Cloud Storage

How the 80/20 rule can reduce your cloud backup storage

The Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, basically says that 80% of the outputs come from 20% of the inputs. When it comes to data retention of your cloud backup storage, this principle can be applied across your business to better understand where the valuable data lies and which sources are most important in creating said data.

A statistical game

In this game, as with most other games, you'll end up losing if you don't follow the rules. One of these rules is that the Pareto principle can be applied universally. But the principle quickly loses its usefulness when applied as a law instead of an observation that "most things in life are not distributed evenly". In addition, a common misunderstanding exists that 20% of contributors produce 20% of the inputs – when actually there is no one-to-one relationship between them.

Pareto's valuable insights

Be that as it may, the observation is able to show some interesting tendencies about your cloud backup storage when considering valid contributors and the inputs they produce and the effect those inputs have (depending on your business model). Here are some examples:

  • 20% of employee output creates 80% of files;
  • 20% of business inefficiencies cause 80% of customer complaints;
  • 20% of servers in your company store 80% of data;
  • 20% of files are accessed 80% of the time;
  • it could even mean that 20% of your data gets restored 80% of the time;
  • and most importantly, 20% of your data represents 80% of your company's value.

Try and understand the principle and apply it to the situations that are unique to your environment.

Is it safe to back up only 20 per cent?

Herein lies the crux of the matter and it comes down to your appetite for risk. Cloud backup storage is first and foremost and risk mitigation measure and wouldn't be much if use if it didn't. That's where you need to decide whether your business will still be okay if it lost 80% of its data. Is 70% more acceptable? Where would you draw the line?

By carefully looking at all data sources, be they human or computer programme, and cataloguing your local data storage nodes, be they purely for posterity or for real-time business operations, you can make an informed decision. As mentioned before, Pareto's principle is exactly that – a principle.

Cutting down on costs

As the 80/20 rule guides to knowing where your important data resides, there are more ways of cutting down on unnecessary cloud backup storage:

  • Deduplicate your backup data at the source before storing it in the cloud. Failing that, ensure that deduplication can be performed on your cloud-base data.
  • Periodically purge or archive obsolete data for long-term storage.
  • It's not always necessary to restore from the cloud. Here, cloud backup storage can be used as a second tier which can reduce cloud I/O and reduce usage costs.

So when the cost of cloud backup storage becomes an excessive burden on your business, that which is not essential to its survival can be excluded and will further stimulate a lean and effective disaster recovery procedure.

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