What's the Worst that Could Happen?
My father's favorite question is "What's the worst that could happen?" He is retired now, but workedat the famous [Kitt Peak National Observatory] designing some of the largesttelescopes. Designing telescopes followed well-established mechanical engineering best practices, but each design was unique,so there was always a chance that the end result would not deliver the expected results. What's the worst that can happen? For telescopes, a few billion dollars are wasted and a few years are added to the schedule. Scrap it and start over. Nothing unrecoverable for the US government with unlimited resources and patience.
Over the weekend, we discussed the lawsuit to stop CERN from potentially destroying the planet. Dennis Overbye writes about this in his New York Times article titled["Asking a Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More"]. Here's an excerpt:
... the rest of the grimness on the front page today will matter a bit, though, if two men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii turn out to be right. They think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole or something else that will spell the end of the Earth — and maybe the universe.
What's the worst that can happen? Scientists now agree that it is sometimes difficult to predict, and someeffects may be unrecoverable.
Unfortunately, this is not the only example of people attempting things they may not understand well enough. Theweb comic below has someone complaining they are out of disk space, and the sales rep suggests solving this with a few commands which will result in deleting all her files. Hopefully, most people reading will recognize this is meant as humor, and not actually attempt the code fragments to "see what they do".
Sadly, I often encounter clients who have a "keep forever" approach to their production data. When they are seriously out of space, they feel forced to either buy more disk storage, or start "the big Purge": deleting rows from their database tables, emails older than 90 days, or some other drastic measures. With a focus on keeping down IT budgets, I fear that thesedrastic measures are growing more common. What's the worst that could happen? You might need that data for defending yourself against a lawsuit, or need it to continue to provide service to a loyal client, or just continue normal business operations.I have visited companies where a junior administrator chose the "big Purge" option, without a full understanding ofwhat they were doing, resulting in business disruption until the data could be recovered or re-entered.
IBM offers a better way. Data that may not be needed on disk forever could be moved to lower-cost tape, using up less energy and less floorspace in your data center. Solutions can automatically delete the data systematically based on chronological or event-based retention policies, with the option to keep some data longer in response to a "legal hold" request.
That's certainly better than to risk shrinking your business into a "dense dead lump"!