August 20, 2015

Risk is for board games, NOT your information!

Bruce Olschewski, Systems Engineer

DoxTek, Inc.


Information has become the primary resource for modern businesses. Managing that information and making it useful has become critical in day-to-day processes. What would happen if you lost access to that information? How well would your business function without it?

How is your information managed?

There are three components to your ECM (Enterprise Content Management) system. These include: servers and services that run your program, the database that keeps track of it all, and storage that actually holds the digital documents.

  1. Servers and services – these are the pieces doing all of the work and are responsible for how the data gets in to the system and how it gets manipulated, processed, and routed.
  2. Database – think of it as the card catalog for the library. It records all of the information about files, locations, settings, access security, and data relationships.
  3. Storage – similar to bookcases at the library, the data and/or images are stored, checked-out or referenced from this location.

What happens if one of these pieces is lost?

If the servers and services go away, the tools to access and process the information goes away. As critical as this access is, this piece is probably the easiest one to recover or rebuild. Ironically, and rather unfortunately sometimes, this is where many organizations focus their risk management.

If the database fails or is lost, the information is still there, but the ability to access the information in an efficient way is gone. The relationships between different pieces of information have also been lost. It is similar to that library catalog being destroyed: the books are still on the shelves, but locating a particular book becomes more difficult.

If the data storage fails, the data about the information (known as metadata) such as the relationships between pieces of information and the usage history for them still exists, but the actual information is lost. Your employees will be unable to retrieve or view the information. This is similar to the bookshelves at the library burning down. The catalog and librarians are still accessible. You can search by title, author, or subject, but you can’t read the books.

Risk Mitigation

The important point in mitigating any risk of information loss is in understanding how the information is stored and how it is processed. Now that you understand these details, you can plan to protect them. Remember that all three components require a plan. None of them individually are all too difficult to design, but getting the complete process is critical.

Additionally, it is crucial that you test your mitigation process, this step is often overlooked. An untested mitigation process gives you no more reassurance than a complete lack of process. A tested process either lets you know that your information is protected or reveals the gaps that exist, allowing any unresolved issue to be thoroughly reviewed.

Overall, each piece works in a different capacity, but all are necessary for a great ECM system. Without one another, the function of your ECM system will be limited. By implementing servers, services, databases, storage, and mitigating your risks, your company will likely avoid the dysfunction that is lost data/information.


PDF Version: Risk is for board games, NOT your information!

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