Rethinking data protection

Rethinking data protection
Mark Bentkower, CISSP, Director of Systems Engineering, ASEAN, Commvault

Modern data protection isn’t just about being able to back your data up and perform a restore. Given the size of today’s datasets, the increased reliance on that data and zero tolerance for downtime, organisations are augmenting traditional backups with other data protection capabilities such as snapshots, replicas and archives.

There are tangible expenses related to delayed or deprecated data restores. In fact, according to a survey by Enterprise Strategy Group, companies prioritise data protection when considering IT spending[1].

The reality however, is that while businesses attempt to address data protection needs, most of them are doing so with a number of old fashioned point solutions[2]. Often businesses treat data protection as an isolated IT requirement and leave it strictly in the hands of the IT department. These short-sighted quick fixes work for a little while, but they lack a holistic view of an organisation’s business needs.

With unprecedented demand for always-on access to data and continuing innovations in storage, cloud, and hyper-converged infrastructures, it is time for organisations to recognise that traditional legacy approaches to data protection just do not make the cut anymore. The scale of today’s data growth adds so much leverage that even minute annual increases in data protection funding (4.6 percent[3]) mean that organisations can’t justify the budget to keep all of those disconnected point solutions working.

Faced with exponential growth and rising power of data today, how can organisations get the most out of data protection within budget limitations?

Integration is key
Multiple copies of almost every piece of data are typically created as companies use disparate point solutions to protect their data. Sadly, these copies usually end up unutilised in a hybrid pool of disk, tape and/or cloud, never seeing the light of day. Addressing data protection needs with disconnected technologies often results in significantly higher costs and complexity, and worse, failure to fully utilise data stored, to the company’s best advantage.

A comprehensive and value added approach to data protection does not only retain the right data at the right time for future, reactive, retrieval needs; but also allows businesses to make copies of relevant data accessible to selected groups within each organisation so that the data can be used in other ways such as analytics and business intelligence. In this way, protected data can become a new kind of asset and help the company drive new business and increase productivity.

This consolidated approach begins with having a complete understanding of what is being stored, where it is stored, and who might find it useful. Sounds simple enough, right? While simple, many companies struggle with this first step as it is a 180° shift from traditional data protection approaches, and requires data management to be elevated as a business priority.

Make data management a culture
The benefits of a unified user interface and storage capability are clear – improved recovery times, cost savings and more efficient operations. Organisations surveyed by IDC recently found that their consolidated data management infrastructure resulted in reduced annual spending on data management hardware, software and services[4]. In addition, these companies also found that an integrated and automated approach to data protection positively impacted overall infrastructure management as there are fewer tools and vendors for them to contend with.

Businesses today demand access to information anytime, anywhere. More importantly, data, and how quickly it can be turned into an asset, is increasingly the difference in today’s business world – helping separate companies from the rest of the competition.

Conventional (and dated) thinking that data protection and data management is just an IT issue should therefore, be rewired as it is, increasingly, an enterprise-wide affair. Forward-looking business leaders need to prioritise data protection and management as part of the company culture in order to realise data’s value as a critical and strategic asset.

[1] Enterprise Strategy Group (2015), 2015 IT Spending Intentions Survey
[2] IDC (2015), The Data-driven Organisation: Unlocking Greater Value from Data and Minimising its Associated Costs and Risks
[3] Enterprise Strategy Group (2014), Backup and archiving convergence trends
[4] IDC (2016), Quantifying the Business Value of Commvault Software: 2015 Customer Survey Analysis

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