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Data retention – the blueprint for business

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Anthony Jackson
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I find myself talking to large businesses about data retention on a regular basis – it is a hot topic currently and for a good reason. Data is the heart of every organisation, no matter what industry it operates in. Without intellectual property, customer records, emails and other critical information, many companies would not be able to successfully continue with their operations.

What is data retention?

Data retention is a policy that defines how data records are kept according to time period, generational rules and data formats. Generally, data retention is dictated by Federal, State and Territory governments, different industries, such as insurance, legal, medical, financial and other membership bodies.

Why is data retention important?

The importance of data retention affects businesses in different ways. Often it is simply a case of meeting data compliance or adherence to regulatory requirements defined by a peak body. In simple terms, data retention policies are adopted by businesses to manage against the risk of losing intellectual property over a specific time frame. This could also include initiatives of preparedness against legal litigation, financial records management, etc.

Data retention in the cloud

Businesses today are increasingly adopting cloud based infrastructure and applications which consequently affects the way a business backs up and retains legacy data. Often leveraging cloud services may significantly reduce the ability for businesses to adopt the same data retention that they previously controlled autonomously in-house through tape and disk to disk methods. Many cloud backup services are not able to sustain long data retention regimes. This comes down primarily to the limitations of backup software and/or backend storage infrastructure. Adopting cloud based backup solutions need not compromise the existing data retention policies; instead this should significantly enhance the availability of restoring multi-generational data on demand.

Data management is key

Due to the complexities of maintaining data retention policies, it is not simply a case of setting and forgetting retention periods for organisational data. Frequent reviews are important and a necessary process to evaluate these policies over time. Additionally, data management also includes monitoring, auditing, searching, administration and ongoing management of business critical data.

Common mistakes made in adoption of data retention policies

It astounds me how many times I have had discussions with IT professionals about data retention where the comment is thrown back at me that data retention is not that important, or a 3 month retention policy for an organisation is more than adequate.  A common mistake made by external IT support professionals is not addressing the specific and individual needs of the organisation pertaining to data retention policies. The following points illustrate the main misconceptions which can be prevented:

  1. Understanding that specific data applications need individual data retention policies to be adopted i.e. email or messaging might be critical to the business and these are the records that are all too often overlooked.
  2. Organisational data in many cases has a blanket retention policy applied to it and often this deployment is more of a convenience to reduce the complexity of setting individual data retention policies for diverse application data. It is important to highlight that business related information is diverse and needs to be treated accordingly.
  3. The implementation and administration of backups and data retention should not be solely the responsibility of the IT department or external IT support business. Due to its complexity, data retention represents significant function within an organisation and should be monitored and audited by upper management i.e. CFO, CIO and CEO.
  4. Databases – for instance SQL, MySQL, Oracle and Novell, just to name a few – are often disregarded when implementing retention policies for an individual organisation. Fundamentally it is also critical to maintain the overall integrity of the database through managing and protecting confidential and sensitive data. Protection against unauthorised access to the data is another important step.
  5. Business continuity plans often overlook the importance of getting critical data back in an event of a disaster. IT departments in some cases put the emphasis wholly on recovery of systems rather than the intellectual property of an organisation.

The LiveBackup advantage

We at LiveBackup understand the importance of data protection and have built a cloud backup platform to adhere to the most stringent data retention regulations in the market today. The key advantages that I would like to put emphasis on are:

  • Asigra enterprise backup software, which supports many different business data applications and multiple OS platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac). This allows LiveBackup to support customisable retention policies for businesses that place a high value on their data.
  • Dual Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) enterprise storage infrastructure located in two geographically separate data centre locations within Australia. In choosing LiveBackup’s storage platform we considered many factors primarily associated with the need to have redundant and highly scalable storage to meet the issues around big data, data sovereignty and protecting it for the longer term.

LiveBackup is fast becoming the benchmark in data protection services for Australian business, meeting challenges of data retention today and into the future.

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About Anthony Jackson

Anthony Jackson
Anthony truly involves himself with his customers in order to understand their needs. With his drive to achieve successful outcomes when facing challenges and passion about IT, Anthony brings endless commitment to the table. Anthony grew up in South East Asia and travelled extensively from an early age. He received a diploma in Business Marketing (Communications) at Mt Gravatt TAFE.