By Iniel Dreyer – Digital transformation continues to drive cloud adoption, resulting in companies facing increased distributed workloads, added pressure to address scaling challenges and to protect data on-premises and across multiple clouds, while their employees work remotely.
This also means that the backup and recovery process has become more complex as organisations have to deal with many more disparate sources of data, while ensuring that users can access this data instantaneously and from anywhere. Therefore, enterprises require more agile data protection strategies that can be adapted to any type of data – wherever it resides – to ensure that it can be protected and recovered.
Additionally, an emerging trend is for companies that have their own data centres to rapidly shift their data to a cloud platform once systems crash or data goes missing. Therefore, data portability has become a significant requirement for backup and recovery strategies. Organisations must be able to backup data in one location and recover it to a different location, including the cloud.
In short, modern enterprises need to have a view of where all their different types of data sits, know whether it is protected and be able to protect and recover it anywhere. In the past, this used to be a far more static and simpler process.
Assumptions about protection
However, the “protect anywhere and recover anywhere” approach comes with its own challenges. The biggest of these is that companies, particularly those at the start of their cloud adoption journeys, are under the assumption that cloud vendors will protect their data. In most cases, this is incorrect.
Most cloud vendors’ shared responsibility models exclude the protection of data. Their main function is to ensure the availability of services that their customers consume. Yet, protecting the data that resides in the cloud remains the responsibility of the customer. Many organisations are not aware of this and only find out once their data is gone.
On the other hand, the challenges of handling data backup and recovery in-house can be just as daunting. Because organisations’ data resides on so many different platforms, it can become a technical nightmare to manage, and requires specialised skills to understand how to effectively protect these different types of data in a hybrid environment.
And yet, many companies only have a relatively small amount of critical data, meaning that acquiring and retaining specialised skills is neither feasible, nor affordable.
This is where backup as a service (BaaS) can bring many benefits to an organisation, assisting it with offsite data storage in which the service provider backs up data and workloads on a regular basis to a secure cloud-based storage.
Leave it to the experts
By engaging a BaaS service provider, organisations can leave data management to experts who specialise in this field, while continuing to focus on their core business. Effective data management is key for modern organisations, as everything revolves around data, and those with the most accurate intelligence can beat their competitors.
Hence, companies need to have access to their data, ensure that it is properly protected and that it can be accessed when needed, by the right people.
Another benefit that BaaS holds for enterprises is that it does not require any capital layout, as organisations only pay for what they use. In a hybrid environment, an organisation must still protect its as-a-service applications, yet all of these, including backup, can be consumed on an operational expenditure model. BaaS providers can model a pay-as-you-go solution for enterprises, that scales according to their requirements.
Additionally, ransomware protection now forms an important part of any backup and recovery strategy, as companies that suffer an attack must be able to fall back on their backup to recover their data. BaaS providers that give guarantees on the recoverability of environments in case of disasters and ransomware attacks are thus ideal to partner with.
Lastly, considering data protection in the hybrid world, it is important to start focusing on the recoverability of services, rather than file data or servers.
Companies must know what services they have and what is needed to recover any specific one. A focus on services is particularly important considering the interoperability and dependency shared by many services. When something goes wrong, a company should thus be able to recover the entire service.
Iniel Dreyer is the MD of Data Management Professionals South Africa