Here’s my favorite joke about the usefulness of statistics (and yes, I’ve heard more than one):
Three statisticians go hunting. After hours of trudging through the woods, they finely see world-class buck. All three raise their rifles. The statistician on the left fires ten feet to the left. The statistician on the right fires ten feet to the right, and the statistician in the middle shouts triumphantly, “I got him!”
Of course, it’s not as bad as all that. Statistics are quite useful for painting broad strokes, but they do have their drawbacks. If you’ve read our “Why You Need Backup and Disaster Recovery” paper, you’ve read about one of those drawbacks, namely the fact that people tend to ignore bad statistics when it comes to planning for their futures.
I think for me, the trouble is that, without really doing a lot of legwork to understand the rigor of the study producing the stats, or the demographics of the subjects, and so on, it’s really difficult know how relevant the statistics really are to you.
Take this press release on StorageNewsletter. It reports on a new study recently released by ExaGrid Systems, Inc. and the results are pretty alarming. Here’s just a smattering of them:
- Nearly 40% of IT managers report that their routine nightly backups exceed the backup window, with 30% saying their companies exceed the backup window by more than four hours.
- 54% said that their backup windows are taking too long.
- 48% said they face long restore and recovery times.
- The vast majority of IT managers (97%) believe that their data is somewhat or extremely vulnerable to data protection or security incidents, and most have experienced one or more of these incidents in the past year.
The press release argues that the dissatisfaction shown in these results stem “largely from delayed investments by many organizations in modernizing backup systems in recent years, which leaves existing backup systems often unable to protect growing amounts of mission-critical data.”
What I can’t help wondering, however, is how accurately that these statistics reflect what you, the StorageCraft partner (or future partner) are really struggling with. For example, the statistics focus heavily on the struggles IT managers have with their backups and backup software (which makes sense, since ExaGrid sells backup solutions), but is the accurate of your experience? At StorageCraft, we like to focus on the recovery because we believe a good recovery is the purpose of any backup, but are you really struggling with your backups and backup windows as much as the IT managers in that study are?
My impression is that the respondents to this study are mainly in large businesses that are stuck with antiquated resources and that it is this that skews the statistics so heavily toward backup problems. After all, if you’re still struggling getting the backup right, it’s hard to focus on the recovery.
So tell me: am I being naive to think backup woes like those described by ExaGrid are less of an issue for the SMB than the study implies? Do you have trouble hitting your backup windows? If you’re using ShadowProtect and continuous incrementals, you don’t even have to worry about backup windows any more, so I have a hard time believing it’s that much of an issue. But are there other roadblocks to your backups?
In my opinion, statistics are the beginning of the conversation, not the end. They help us see a big picture, but then it’s up to us to dig in and find out what’s really going on.
So, what’s really going on?