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Article · Aug 28, 2018

The good, the bad, and the ‘good enough’

Color illustration of a scale.

Like a lot of homeowners, I’ve been guilty of picking up cheap household tools over the years. Even now, I occasionally succumb to the appeal of spending less and purchasing a cheap tool from my favorite discount hardware store—only to have it break the first time I use it.

And like a lot of IT pros, I’m familiar with the pressures that surround lots of buying decisions. We’re always searching for ways to stretch our money as far as possible, and there never seems to be enough of it. Time and again, I’ve listened to peers talk about going with solutions that were ‘good enough’ – not ideal, but what they could afford.

But I’ve also been around long enough to see the messy end results. Sure, using that free or cheap solution looks great on the books. But, is the savings really worth it? When the tool breaks, there’s no tech support, and you can’t restore normal business operations within a reasonable timeframe? Often, we find the least expensive tool is also the most time consuming, cumbersome to deploy or manage. Maybe it’s not such a bargain after all. More often than not, that cheap tool needs replacing—with a more expensive one.

Choose the right tool for the job

But inexpensive options, or even free ones, have their place. Obviously, there’s no room for truly bad products in your data protection toolkit. However, inexpensive technologies can play an important role. In other words, sometimes a mix of “great” and “good enough” is appropriate. Here are three questions to ask when evaluating data protection products:

  1. How long can the system be down before the business is impacted? The impact of downtime is always damaging—whether it’s lost revenue, lost productivity, or lost customers.

  2. How many manual steps are involved? If the solution requires expensive IT resources to deploy and manage, it’s not the bargain that it first appeared to be.

  3. How much data loss is acceptable? For production data, probably not much. However, for older data that is not changing often, a “good enough” solution will most likely meet your needs. For example, retaining data for compliance

Look for flexible solutions

In other words, not all data requires the same level of protection, at the same cost. In many cases, deploying various levels of protection is the best way to strike a balance between reliability, backup and restore performance, and cost. For example, you might require instant failover for a mission critical database while file backup is appropriate for endpoints.

Choosing the right tool for the right data/workload is an effective way to reduce spending while maintaining adequate data protection. This approach is frequently referred to as a tiered data protection strategy, and it requires understanding your data protection requirements as they vary by system, applications or users.

Flexible deployment options are key for a solid data protection strategy. That doesn’t mean you need the most expensive tools throughout your entire system. Before you purchase and deploy, look for reasonable places to cut costs.


Tim Laplante

Tim Laplante is Director of Product Management at Carbonite. He blogs about cloud, migration, and business continuity technologies.

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