Data protection struggles in the data age

Read time 4min 40sec

Globally, 92% of businesses see the potential value of data, with 36% already monetising it, even as data protection becomes ever-more challenging due to new technologies and the constant sheer volume of data.

This is according to the Dell EMC third Global Data Protection Index, which reveals an explosive growth rate of data of 569% and a jump in data protection "adopters" of nearly 50 percentage points since 2016.

The research surveyed 2 200 IT decision-makers from both public and private organisations with 250+ employees across 18 countries and 11 industries, and highlights the state of data protection and the maturity of data protection strategies.

The index uncovered an increase in the average amount of data managed, from 1.45 petabytes (PB) in 2016 to 9.70PB in 2018, and a high awareness of the value of data.

While this acknowledgement is positive, most respondents are struggling to properly protect their data, notes the index report.

Of those surveyed, 76% experienced disruption in the last 12 months, and 27% experienced irreparable data loss, nearly double the 14% in 2016.

Nearly half (45%) of those surveyed are struggling to find suitable data protection solutions for newer technologies. More than half (51%) said they could not find suitable data protection solutions for artificial intelligence and machine learning data, followed by cloud-native applications (47%) and the Internet of things (40%).

The challenges presented by emerging technologies and the rapid growth of data are just beginning to take shape. As such, only 16% believe their current data protection solutions will be able to meet all future business challenges, the research shows.

"Emerging technologies such as AI and IOT are frequently the focus of an organisation's digital transformation, but the data those technologies generate is absolutely key in their transformation journey," says Beth Phalen, president and general manager, Dell EMC Data Protection Division.

The sheer volume of data and its importance to business operations make data protection that much more challenging, states the index report. Disruption incidents are occurring frequently, but more alarming is the increasing amount of irreversible data loss, it notes.

The research found 76% of respondents worldwide are using at least two data protection vendors, which makes them 35% more likely to experience some type of disruption during the same 12-month period, compared to those with a single vendor.

Unplanned systems downtime was the most common type of disruption (43%) for those using two or more vendors, followed by ransomware attacks that prevented access to data (32%) and data loss (29%).

Although unplanned systems downtime is more prevalent, data loss is far more expensive. For example, those who encountered downtime experienced 20 hours of downtime on average in the last 12 months, costing $526 845, while those who lost data, lost 2.13TB on average with a price tag of nearly $1 million.

Additionally, many of those that experienced a disruption indicated it had far-reaching business impacts from customer trust to brand equity to employee productivity, to name a few.

Not only does the amount of data lost increase the price, but so does the value of data itself. It's clear organisations recognise this, as 81% said they take data protection more seriously for categories of data that have the greatest monetary value, the report points out.

Cloud, compliance catalysts

According to the Global Data Protection Index, public cloud use increased from 28% of the total IT environment in respondents' organisations in 2016 to 40% in 2018, on average. Nearly all (98%) organisations using public cloud are also leveraging it as part of their data protection infrastructure.

When considering data protection solutions in a public cloud environment, the growing data universe plays an especially critical role, as indicated by 64% of respondents who named scalability options as important, says the research report. Specifically, 41% cited the impact of data protection infrastructure or services required to protect at scale, while 40% cited the ability to scale services as public cloud workloads increase.

The Global Data Protection Index also found regulation is an impending catalyst for evolution, with regulation compliance ranked in the top three data protection challenges by 41% of respondents.

Moreover, only 35% felt very confident their organisation's current data protection infrastructure and processes are compliant with regional regulations, and only 16% believe their data protection solutions will meet all future challenges.

That sentiment is beginning to translate into reality as 12% of respondents whose organisation experienced data loss or unplanned downtime in the past 12 months reported paying punitive fines as a result.

"The nearly 50% growth of data protection adopters and fact that the majority of business now recognise the value of data proves that we are on a positive path to protecting and harnessing the data that drives human progress," says Phalen.

Click here to see an infographic on the results of the Dell EMC Global Data Protection Index.

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