By Milind Borate
Today, to grow with confidence and give a boost to their new initiatives, businesses need a strong data management and protection mechanism. That data protection will take precedence is illustrated by the fact that most companies are adopting new operational strategies such as remote working, implementing new technology like IoT, and shifting to cloud. Given the gamut of data generated this may appear as a challenge, but backup teams now have a rare opportunity to simplify protection, connect with the business, and deliver more value than ever with the use of new technology. Looking at some key emerging trends, we can easily say that the evolving data landscape needs a modern approach to data protection.
The many challenges of small data sprawl
With companies building an extensive network of small data repositories, data now resides at multiple endpoints. This includes remote workers’ laptops, IoT devices, SaaS services, and cloud-native applications. Storage has shifted from big data centres to small data sprawl, as an increasing amount of data is created, analyzed, and stored in more regions and on more devices and more platforms. This of course presents us with a whole new set of challenges while protecting business-critical data.
A small data sprawl means more endpoints, which exposes organizations to a greater risk from cyberthreats. Instead of centralized pools of VMs and storage, they need to find and backup data that may be stored on hundreds of thousands of devices. In such a scenario, the definition of backup changes and becomes equally complex. The expectation from the backup now is to help detect and recover from those attacks. And since these devices will be globally distributed, they must adhere to both local and international regulations.
Automated disaster recovery solution is the answer to protecting complex and custom-built applications. Moreover, AI/ML-driven applications will be subject to privacy and fairness regulations, so businesses will be required to reproduce historical results using the original algorithm and dataset. In the new data architecture, backup can be an integral part of cyber-security, disaster recovery, and compliance. While the challenges can seem overwhelming, the technology which created small data sprawl also helps protect it.
The new world of Cloud and SaaS
A company with a cloud-centric data architecture, will require a cloud-centric protection solution. Cloud brings several benefits to aid seamless operations for its users. For starters, it alone offers the scale and connectivity to back up all the endpoints and devices, and as cloud providers operate in multiple regions, companies can use local storage to meet compliance regulations.
Another advantage is the cloud’s flexibility. This enables organizations to flag personal identification information (PII) as it is backed up, recreate environments from a point in time for disaster recovery, and identify anomalous patterns emerging in the backup data for cyber-attack detection. And last but not the least, in the Cloud, companies can run these processes on-demand to reduce cost and complexity.
Adopting SaaS is another mechanism to accelerate data protection to keep up with the data evolution. Expertise of SaaS providers includes cloud internals, compliance regulations, and security that enable the backup team to focus on its business.
Furthermore, they help to manage all new requirements of data management and save precious time that would be otherwise spent on troubleshooting failed backups, upgrading systems and software, and micromanaging schedules. This is possible only because SaaS backups are already isolated from production environments and backup teams do not need to build air-gaps to protect themselves from cyber-attacks.
Using cloud-native solutions and SaaS tools will not only allow businesses to tackle these challenges head-on, but it will also help them to continually innovate and evolve. In fact, it gives backup teams the opportunity to connect to the business, legal, and security teams.
The many opportunities of a Metadata hub
An increasing level of data challenges automatically translates into an opportunity for the company’s IT backup teams to take on a more strategic role. Their journey begins by connecting with the business via modern application support.
There has been a time, when IT’s unresponsiveness compelled business units within an organization to build cloud-native solutions on their own. However, as they recognize the value of protecting their data from mistakes, disasters, and attacks, they refrain from this practice. When a backup team’s capability to protect a business unit’s cloud applications quickly and easily is showcased to the entire organization, other departments will be quick to join the club. This is how the backup catalog becomes a metadata hub of all the organization’s applications and datasets.
By building a metadata hub backup teams can help several business units of a company. For instance, legal teams within an organization need to search for data across the entire environment to satisfy privacy and e-discovery requests. Since it includes endpoints, data centers, SaaS applications, and cloud-native applications, the backup metadata hub can help the legal team find the data they need for everything from “Right to Access” GDPR requests to PII identification to legal hold. In case of the security team which needs help protecting against cyber-attacks, the backup metadata hub can help identify anomalous data patterns in the backups. Then, it can restore entire applications to previous points in time, so ransomware recovery becomes simple and reliable.
We must make a note that the time has come for companies to build a next-generation data protection strategy. To surmise, today is not just a reminder of the challenges facing our backup strategies, but also the opportunities for the backup teams, who protect our data and our businesses.
(The author is the Co-founder & CTO, Druva)