Data explosion demands SA organisations to advance data management
By David McMurdo, regional director, South Africa at Veritas
A conundrum is arising for South African companies as they embrace digital transformation. On the one hand, they must transform if they are to remain relevant and succeed in a digital-first world, with research by Capgemini Consulting indicating digital leaders are 26% more profitable compared to their industry peers. On the other hand, they need to manage the cost and complexity resulting from the spiralling volumes of data generated by that digital transformation, which is expected to reach 175 zettabytes by 2025, according to IDC.
This data all requires storage and management, leading to a dramatic growth in infrastructure, data centres and cloud adoption, with all their associated costs as storage fragments across the edge, core and cloud.
The era of more
This fragmentation is adding to the complexity. Cloud adoption is growing at a rate of 45% to 50% per year, with businesses embracing more and more cloud platforms and providers. As a result, 90% of all companies are expected to adopt hybrid cloud environments in the next two years.
The problem is that complexity is not only a result of transformation, but also inhibits it. Today’s IT departments must contend with new workloads, rigid platforms, increased cyber security threats and stricter regulations, from General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), locally. Businesses that lose control of their data lose their ability to protect themselves against these kinds of threats.
Yet, research shows businesses are doing just that. In South Africa, organisations have increased the amount of redundant, obsolete and trivial (ROT) data they are storing by an average of 9% over the past two years, and 49% of all stored data is unstructured and untagged (dark), according to the latest Veritas Databerg Report.
All this means having a top-notch data management strategy is critical to business success. More specifically, that strategy needs to offer businesses the means to protect their data, ensure it is available 24/7 and drive business-enhancing insights.
The importance of protection
With regard to data protection, it’s not just about protecting against accidental data loss, but also against the real threat of network breaches and ransomware. Ransomware has already grown to a $33 billion industry; with an attack occurring every 14 seconds. Clearly, this scourge is not going anywhere soon.
Close to home, the ransomware attack on a municipality last year showed that no organisation is immune. The municipality had its databases, applications and network encrypted, all of which had to be cleaned and rebuilt. On a practical level, it left users unable to buy electricity units until the recovery was complete.
With only 50% of businesses that fall prey to a ransomware attack actually being given access to their data when they do pay, organisations can’t rely on being able to buy their way out of their ransomware challenges. Rather, it’s imperative that firms have immutable, offsite copies of their complete data to be able to restore files in the event that hackers strike.
And, with every second counting from the moment ransomware takes hold, Veritas offers a solution that provides early notice when ransomware has infected an IT environment and enables system admins to do a single-click instant recovery.
Always on, always available
The second pillar, availability, is part and parcel of living in an always-on world. People shop, use medical services, order food online and access to financial services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so, for many industries, a system failure at any time will lead to massive reputational damage, lost revenue and potentially crippling fines.
A case in point: In 2017, a British airline had a catastrophic IT failure, leaving its systems down for four days. As a result, travellers were stranded, the airline lost 100 million pounds and the holding company lost $87 million that week. The cause – an employee flipping the wrong switch, and in trying to rectify the mistake, caused a surge that short-circuited the system.
It raises the question: how confident are you that your organisation can recover in the face of an outage, without your services being unavailable for 24 hours, three days, or even a week? The vast majority of CIOs – 70% – don’t believe their organisation can recover from that. More specifically, the Databerg Report 2020 revealed only 11% of companies can recover from data loss on the same day.
But, for modern businesses, the goal should not be just to manage their data better or guard against downtime, it should also be to glean actionable insight from it. The importance of understanding data is well established, but in an era where it is growing exponentially, and often in unstructured silos, the process is increasingly challenging.
Specifically, companies need to be able to deal with dark data; that is, data which is uncategorised and whose value is unknown. According to the latest Databerg Research by Veritas, dark data is among the fastest growing kinds of information that organisations are storing. Yet, these firms may be storing up all manner of trouble for themselves, since dark data is just as likely to be malware or compromised data as it is to be useful business information. Unless organisations are able to illuminate their dark data, they can never be sure that are meeting compliance rules. The cost of non-compliance of GDPR alone totalled almost $300 million last year.
The solution to this is to abstract complexity. Veritas’ Information Studio enables companies to visualise data from up to 25 different sources and implement policies to ensure best practice and compliance. It also enables organisations to classify data to generate impactful insight.
To the point
The data explosion is upon us, and no company or industry can escape it. What they can do is implement the right tools to navigate their way through a burgeoning digital world securely, deftly and innovatively.