It amazes me how plentiful and important data has become to our lives.
In the early 1990s, I co-founded a company that built a software product called WARE that tracked and analyzed workplace injury and illness information. WARE included critical data analytics to help with loss control, automated reporting required by Department of Labor regulations, electronic claim submission to the insurance carrier and automating many of the critical decisions required to properly report and track a case. The automated OSHA reporting dramatically reduced a company’s exposure and cost to comply.
WARE was chock full of critical information that helped companies comply and reduce risk. For example, the product included an easy-to-use feature to backup the data to diskette (CD and USB drives didn’t exist then). To handle a real IT emergency, we also bundled forms and a manual process for maintaining adherence during a catastrophic IT loss, like losing the PC or LAN that housed WARE’s database. WARE was ultimately used by many Fortune 1,000 companies at thousands of locations in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Fast forward to 2014 at Online Tech, where we rely heavily on OTPortal, our internally-built and managed ERP system. OTPortal enjoys some of the same development talent that made WARE successful and serves as our client portal. In essence, OTPortal runs everything. Sales staff use it for generating quotes and booking orders; it automatically generates invoices and tracks receivables for our accounting department; product management generates product uptake reports; operations uses it to track assets, including every cable in every data center; support staff use it to manage support tickets; management gains visibility into critical KPIs that in turn are visible to every employee in the company; and much more. We’ve fully digitized our activity at Online Tech with OTPortal to such an extent that there’s no realistic manual replacement.
Both WARE and OTPortal are examples of enterprise-class applications, with highly distributed access and critical data. The difference is that OTPortal was born in a world where rich development tools embedded within intranet and internet infrastructures enable ubiquitous access. Combine this with hardware that can handle thousands of transactions per second with uncompromising security and reliability and you have a recipe for a completely digitized company lifeblood that allowed us to automate workflows throughout every part of Online Tech. There’s no feasible manual backup process that would encompass all of OTPortal. For most companies, us included, our efficiency would be severely impacted if we lost all access to our data.
Just like us, there’s no doubt your business requires data to survive. That why I say, “data is money.” And where do you keep your money? We all keep our money in banks. Why? Partly because they’re insured, but mostly because they’re very secure and highly available. Can you imagine keeping $100,000 cash in your office? It’s not secure, but it is immediately available, as long as you’re near your office. How about keeping that $100,000 in a safety deposit box at a bank? It’s secure, but not very available. The reason people put that $100,000 in a (global) bank is that it’s both secure and extremely available. All you need is an ATM card and a checkbook. The equivalent of a bank for data is a data center. That’s why I say that “data is money, money belongs in a bank and data belongs in a data center.”
Survival and growth in this economy depends on the ability to secure and protect critical data while making it seamlessly accessible to the right resources at the right time, regardless of physical proximity. Ignoring this fundamental reality ensures a quick demise.
Once you (and your leadership) acknowledge data is money, you gain a new perspective. With that in mind, here are some of the lessons we’ve learned and applied at Online Tech to protect our OTPortal data:
I’ll cover these topics, and others, in upcoming blog post.
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