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World Backup Day 2016: Insight and advice from industry pros

Over the last few years, today (31st March) has become know as World Backup Day. A day to raise awareness of the growing role that data is playing in our everyday lives and the importance of regular backups.

Last year, we were encouraged to focus on availability, but the industry has changed a lot since then, with data security now dominating conversations.

To celebrate World Backup Day 2016, various industry professionals have offered their thoughts and advice on how the industry has progressed and why backups are so importance.

Peter Godden, VP, EMEA at Zerto:

“Every day we’re reminded that the growing complexity of data centre technologies and troves of data poses a significant challenge to not just C-level technologists, but business leaders as well. World Backup Day is a light hearted way for organisations of all industry types and sizes to take stock of the importance of protecting and recovering their critical IT infrastructure as they see the stark realities associated with this critical task.

"More than a celebration of backup, the day marks the overarching significance of making critical data and applications available to a point within seconds of loss either due to man-made, natural, or criminal disaster. This approach to creating the highest levels of confidence of ‘readiness’ among IT and business leaders is really the heart of what helps bring World Backup Day to life, particularly for highly regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services.”

Geraldine Osman, VP International Marketing, Nexsan:

"On World Backup Day it's important to draw attention to the wasted money spent on storing infrequently accessed data on primary storage, which slows down backups and raises costs. We estimate that 80 per cent of data on primary storage can be easily identified as data that never changes, or changes infrequently. By offloading this data onto more appropriate storage, companies can ensure it’s backed up, whilst simultaneously speeding up the backups of their now lighter primary storage system.

"By choosing the right storage for the task you can have a backup strategy that saves your organisation time and money, even in this day of ever growing data.”

Kieran Harty, CTO & Co-Founder at Tintri:

"The applications on which businesses depend are increasingly being converted from physical to virtual - and you need to similarly shift your replication and recovery approach to keep pace.

"For example, conventional storage hoards virtualised applications into bulky vessels called LUNs (logical unit numbers). You’re typically forced to replicate an entire LUN (including everything it holds), but if you could replicate just the one application you care about it, you can be 95 per cent more efficient. And if you need to recover or update a specific application, taking that action on the entire LUN can take hours or days, whereas targeted action on that one application could take seconds. That’s why choosing the right storage platform plays a huge role in how you manage application level replication and recovery."

Gabriel Gambill, Senior Director of Product and Technical Operations at Quorum:

"Backup is essential for both businesses and individuals. As we move into a digital age consumers risk losing their personal files and documents while businesses risk failing compliance, losing highly sensitive data and hours of downtime. Data loss is a huge threat to many of today's organizations and businesses need to be prepared. High availability and snapshot replication can ensure that the business has constant real time recovery, not only is data backed up and easily restored but so are critical applications. Businesses need Business Continuity (BC) and quick instant access to data that will allow the organisation to return to business as usual. World Backup Day draws attention to this and the need for recovery. Once a disaster strikes it is too late, organisations need to be prepared."

Mario Blandini, chief evangelist at SwiftStack:

"It is the beginning of the end for backup as we know it. Far too many individuals do inadequate backups, and technology has evolved to automatically protect and version the data we work with. Humans are bad at backup, apps are great at it."

“Both consumer and business adoption of cloud storage solutions has marked the beginning of the end for backup as users know it. Application developers now build the apps we use to roll-back and recover documents ‘forever’."

“Make the most of this year’s World Backup Day. The simple term ‘backup' is becoming obsolete for the way we use and collaborate with documents and media. Increasingly, we will use our data and the protection just happens in the same way as we used to have to change car gears ourselves. Now with pervasive automatic transmissions we just drive. "

Nigel Tozer, Solutions Marketing Director, EMEA, Commvault:

Your data, your responsibility’ is a clause embedded in the majority, if not all, Public Cloud contracts. The big Public Cloud providers typically use snapshots and replication to reduce the risk of data loss, but neither of these offer the protection of an actual backup copy.

Clearly this isn’t so much of a problem for backup data sent to the cloud, but for critical data that only resides in the cloud, World Backup Day is a great reminder to check exactly what protection is in place and take action if needed to avoid undue risk.”

Giri Fox, Director of Technical Services, Rackspace:

“Over recent years, organisations have become far more aware of the importance of backing up their data and we’ve noticed the impact here at Rackspace, where currently we backup 120 PB per month globally. One of the main challenges for us is that businesses don’t just want to back-up more data than ever before, they want it to be done quicker than ever before. Also, the process of doing so has become more complex than it used to be because companies are more conscious than ever of the compliance regulations they have to adhere to. Fortunately, with the development of deduplication techniques, we are now able to back-up unique sections of data rather than duplicating large pools continuously, which has sped-up the backing-up process.

“Initiatives like World Backup Day are a great way of highlighting the importance of backing up in an age where, as Ann Winbald put it, ‘data is the new oil’. In the post-Edward Snowden era we’re also seeing just how seriously companies are thinking about encryption.

"Many companies now want to make sure their backed up data is no longer just encrypted when it goes outside the four walls of a data centre, but inside it as well.”

Bob Plumridge, EMEA CTO, Hitachi Data Systems:

“World Back Up day serves as a timely reminder of just how important protecting data really is. Despite being the fuel on which businesses run, the value of data backup is still not being realised by businesses. This puts organisations at significant risk, particularly when you think about backup in the context of compliance and the impending EU regulation. Suffering data loss will simply be crippling for organisations in the near future.

"Managing the huge increases in the volume of data flowing through a business each day is a huge challenge for IT teams, and as the guardians of information, businesses are looking to IT departments to navigate where their data currently resides and interpret how it can be used.

"The issue for IT teams is that they are going in data blind. Often data isn’t classified at the point of creation, leaving businesses with no way of knowing whether they are looking at HR, sales or customer data.

"With impending EU regulation, protecting and managing data is not something that can be taken lightly. Companies must ensure that they’re taking adequate steps to back up their data if they want to set themselves up for future success."

Martin Warren, Cloud Solutions Marketing Manager EMEA, NetApp:

“World Backup Day is evocative of a wider importance for businesses and employees to take more responsibility when handling data, appreciate the implications not looking after data can have, and pay closer attention to whether the storage platforms and the data management software used are fit for purpose.

“Further to this, and in-keeping with the spirit of World Backup Day, all users must remain alert to the growing value and importance of data, to avoid misuse or loss. This is not just a personal issue – there are also legal implications. Data protection is a hot topic for businesses and in light of changes announced earlier this year to the data regulations affecting companies using data on EU citizens, businesses of all sizes across all industries are reviewing their data management and compliance policies.

“At an IT management level, this process entails an assessment of the current enterprise IT and storage systems, to see if the existing infrastructure allows IT managers to have more control over the ways in which data can be backed up or deleted across multiple storage providers and environments as well as international geographies.

"At an enterprise level, businesses need to encourage employees across the board to be more mindful of data, which is one of the most valuable assets to any business. This covers everything from being more aware of where data is stored, creating regular backups, knowing what platforms are secure and how to use data compliantly.”

Jonathon Levine, CTO of Intermedia:

"Backup has become an increasingly important part of business continuity plans over the years. Traditional backup solutions, however, can present a problem because they don't backup files in real time. This issue is even more critical with the emergence of ransomware that threatens to take entire businesses offline for extended periods of time. Any company that hasn't incorporated off-site, real-time cloud backup with point in time recovery and instant file access into its continuity plans is likely to suffer significant downtime at a huge financial cost if targeted by such emerging malware.

World Backup Day is an opportunity to educate businesses about the importance of backup and provide basic prevention and containment techniques to avoid downtime in the increasingly likely event that a ransomware attack occurs.”

Chris O’Malley, CEO of Compuware:

“Threats to an organisation’s data used to be self-evident: A hard disk would fail, or a server would get destroyed in a natural disaster. Although these threats are still here, we now deal with a whole new set of cyber threats, particularly 'insider' hacks that can occur through privileged access. These attacks are often targeted at high-value systems like the mainframe because modern day Willie Sutton(s) know well that’s where the money is.

"This is a new world where backup and security are now intertwined. In tandem with a reliable backup strategy, organisations need tools that allow them to monitor high-value systems around the clock, capturing all kinds of data about which employees are accessing specific applications and data; when the access occurred; how often access occurs; and how that access diverges from other similar users.

This type of proactive anomaly detection, combined with rock-solid backup, provides an essential response to protecting an organisation’s most sensitive data assets.”