The abstraction of complexity

Data complexity is becoming a real challenge, and it can get in the way of digital transformation.

Johannesburg, 23 Mar 2020
Read time 4min 10sec

Data is growing at a rapid pace. By 2025, we’ll have 175 zettabytes of data, and half of that will be dark data. Imagine the impact on compliance. Not to mention the exponential growth in threats such as ransomware. Add to that the demand for always-on, and the complexity around managing all of that data, as well as the tools required, is going to be staggering.

That’s according to David McMurdo, Veritas Regional Director for South Africa, speaking at the Veritas Vision Solution Day, held in Johannesburg recently.

David McMurdo, Regional Director, South Africa, Veritas
David McMurdo, Regional Director, South Africa, Veritas

The question that businesses need to be asking themselves, is how do you abstract complexity from your most critical business asset? McMurdo goes on to ask: “What is your data management strategy? Have you even thought about it? Do you have one? How do you protect your data and make sure it’s available? And how do you derive insights?”

The point that he’s making is that the majority of businesses need some sort of platform to ensure data and application availability, that their data is protected against deletion or database restoral as well as ransomware and breaches, and that they can derive insights from their data, such as where is it coming from and who is using it. These insights will help the business identify how it can curb the growth in data mentioned at the beginning of this article. Then they can start archiving it, managing it and moving it to other storage.

Simon Jelley, Vice-President, Backup Exec Product Management at Veritas, refers to this new approach to managing data complexity as the data opportunity. “If you solve data complexity, it can help you drive digital transformation and get more value out of your data. We live in a data-driven world. Businesses no longer sell products, they’re in the business of data. We have companies like Uber and Airbnb that leverage other people’s infrastructure instead of creating their own. If you don’t use data to disrupt, you’ll be disrupted.”

Simon Jelley, Vice-President, Backup Exec Product Management, Veritas
Simon Jelley, Vice-President, Backup Exec Product Management, Veritas

Interestingly enough, when you consider where IT resources are spent, 67% of IT budget is spent on running the business, 25% on business opportunities and 8% on business innovation, according to ZDNet. Jelley says these ratios need to shift: “The business must run itself, then we can focus on how to disrupt and get to the next phase.

“Businesses are trying to digitally transform, but the challenge is that as they progress from traditional to virtual to cloud, there’s no clear cut progression for each step. Generally, companies hedge their bets and retain some of the old ways of doing things; there’s not a clear jump from one step to the next. This results in legacy workloads and infrastructure that comprises new and older technologies. Not only is there no clear cut journey to the cloud, there’s also no single cloud, adding to the complexity.”

Adding to this is the massive data growth, bringing with it equally massive storage costs. “The more you move towards making applications available to the business, the more data you have in more places,” explains Jelley. “Today’s data isn’t in a single location – it’s in the multi-cloud. This spread of data and the fact that you have to make it available to business users gives rise to more threats to that data, such as ransomware, for example. You need to put the right controls in place. Ransomware is a growing reality.”

Then stricter regulations like GDPR (and POPIA closer to home) are driving more complexity. Organisations need to know what data they have on whom - and about what matter. As well as where are those copies held? These three things, data growth, ransomware and regulation, are all inhibitors to digital transformation. Jelley reiterates McMurdo’s message: Business needs a single platform that can manage all of that complexity.

“Digital leaders are 26% more profitable on average than their industry peers, according to a study by CapGemini and MIT. This exclusive group is known as the digerati. Managing complexity is key to becoming a digirati moving forward. The only way that you can achieve that is through data complexity abstraction. Ultimately, abstraction is about protecting the data, making it available and able to provide insights. The reality is, this isn’t a new thing. It’s just a better way of driving a strategy to bring these three things together to enable digital transformation,” he concludes.