Emerging tech spurs data protection pains

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 06 Mar 2015
Businesses believe protecting new workloads is too complex, says Servaas Venter, country manager at EMC Southern Africa.
Businesses believe protecting new workloads is too complex, says Servaas Venter, country manager at EMC Southern Africa.

Companies are ill-prepared to face the protection challenges that come with emerging data storage technologies, as many still struggle to protect current workloads.

So says Servaas Venter, country manager at EMC Southern Africa, who notes trends such as big data, mobile and hybrid cloud create new challenges for data protection.

"Businesses believe protecting new workloads is too complex and, as a result, few have strategies in place to protect them," says Venter. "Because these combined workloads are responsible for exponential data growth, the amount of data that is lost is on the rise."

A recent study by EMC discovered South African organisations lost close to R11 billion to downtime and data loss in the past 12 months.

Venter explains hybrid cloud, big data and mobile data were rated the hardest to protect, where 51% of businesses have no data protection for any of these scenarios and only 6% have protection for all of these environments. "This is alarming considering 30% of these companies' primary data now reside in cloud storage."

He points out that traditional data protection strategies focused on protecting data structured and onsite and that's not the case for emerging workloads.

"With hybrid cloud data, you have information in multiple locations and you may not be able to install the same data protection solutions in all of these. For mobile data, the devices it's stored on may not regularly see a network. And, for big data, the amount of information can put pressure on backup windows," he explains.

However, Venter urges, the solution is not to bury your head in the sand. "Data protection technologies are evolving in parallel with the challenges that are emerging and businesses will find it far easier to protect themselves if they can stay abreast of these developments."

EMC believes the other challenge is organisations are engaging several vendors to meet their data protection needs, leading to the risk of suffering unplanned systems downtime.

"We believe this might be caused by difficulties both in managing multiple solutions and in fully understanding where different solutions start and end," Venter explains.

"EMC advises businesses to take a holistic approach to data protection, choosing advanced solutions that can work together with existing data protection architecture. The risk otherwise is that cracks can appear in your protection solution that can ultimately lead to data loss."

According to Chris Hathaway, director at Soarsoft International, the increased data volumes, variety of data sources, and increasing number of data locations, lead to increased complexity when it comes to managing this information, not to mention added costs and risks related to retaining and managing data storage.

"Without information governance in place, organisations open themselves up to a myriad of challenges, risks and threats with regard to the data they store," he notes.

To Hathaway, meeting modern information management needs requires continuous and on-going access to a clear and accurate 'big picture' view.

He notes, by creating an actionable understanding of live data, organisations are better positioned for more effective information governance, and to take advantage of a number of benefits.

"Tangible savings can be leveraged from reduced storage costs, by identifying junk or legacy data and either disposing of it or moving it to cheaper storage solutions. Automated, improved policies result in improved governance and enhanced visibility while intelligence around data assets helps to improve security."

EMC believes there should be a sense of urgency for companies to think strategically about data protection and to act now to protect emerging workloads before the challenge grows any further, Venter advises.

"An organisation's data protection strategy should ensure all data is recoverable within an acceptable timeframe. A strong data protection strategy should protect all of your critical data wherever it is, whatever happens," he concludes.