Data protection must be a boardroom priority, not the IT department’s prime concern.

So said Danie Marais, director of software development at Redstor, a Data Management Solution provideraddressing the ITWeb Cloud, Data Centre & DevOps Summit, held at The Forum in Bryanston yesterday.

In his talk – “How data protection can enrich your SaaS [software-as-as-service] strategies” – Marais emphasised that companies need to get serious about data protection.

He said enterprises need to equip themselves with tools and solutions to protect data, which will help minimise costs. “In order to do that, we need to change our thinking about data.”

Marais warned that SaaS providers are always keen to talk about the cost and efficiency benefits a move to the cloud can deliver, but they tend to be much less vocal about the potential impact on compliance and data protection.

He cautioned that without the right safeguards in place, moving to SaaS solutions can put compliance and business continuity at risk, all while costing more than expected.

Marais said data is no longer the new oil but rather is now equivalent to water. Data is extremely important and valuable, therefore it makes sense to compare it to oil; however, he believes the comparison to water is more apt.

“Water is life, water gets distributed in different places, and it must be accessible and clean. Water, just like data, must be protected.”

He noted that data churned by companies is growing every day, hence the need to be vigilant when it comes to data management.

“We find ourselves in a different world than it was 40 years ago, or even five years ago. Every year, the amount of data businesses are using is growing by a staggering 50%. Not only is it growing at a staggering rate, it is being stored in more and more different locations.

“We have data on-premises, we have data on mobile devices, we have data on laptops, and now we have data in the cloud. When it is in the cloud, it’s not even in a single place; you get multiple cloud storage applications, each with its own way to store data.”

He cautioned that with the increased sharing and storing of files in the cloud, potentially sensitive data is being exposed, as cloud is not exempt from losing data.

Another panellist to the session, Lawrence Reddy, technical director, Cloudlogic SA, is also of the belief that cloud is not a destination.

He said cloud is “not a trend, not cheap, not simple (especially security) and certainly not a magic bullet. Cloud is an enabler. An enabler to business, technical and operations today, without the need to move a single workload.”

Moreover, Reddy thinks cloud should be brought to the business not vice versa.