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Game change for 2017: Disaster recovery moves into the boardroom and cybercriminals face a new opponent

It’s time to say goodbye to 2016, and hello to the next 12 months and all they have in store. IT is never a slow industry, and in 2017 we’re going to see great advances in technologies with data protection and recovery no exception. In fact, I predict it will come into its own next year. Already a crucial technology in any organisation’s IT infrastructure – especially as organisations cope with aggressive data growth and increased security risks – I’ve pinpointed five areas of focus that will bring data protection and recovery to the forefront of IT planning. 

1. Data protection and recovery sees off ransomware

Security threats are, and will continue to be, a major IT issue. The rising menace of ransomware – where data is accessed and held to ransom – is forcing CIOs and their teams to rethink the way they protect their data. According to a global survey by Osterman Research in June 2016, almost 50 per cent of participants said they had suffered at least one ransomware attack in the past 12 months. 

The majority of IT specialists say that ransomware attacks are becoming more sophisticated and, as a result, organisations must find new and original ways to deal with them. Security software has long been the first choice in the fight against cybercriminal activity, and while these preventative measures are essential, the smart move for organisations will be to weave data protection solutions into security strategies. Consistent backups and advanced capabilities such as data rewind and virtual standby mean that, in the event of a ransomware attack, organisations can access and restore data in a matter of minutes. This immediately reduces the threat and eliminates the need to pay any ransom. 

2. Consolidating data protection

Data protection and recovery consolidation and optimisation will become a priority in the next 12 months, driven in part by the fact that IT specialists’ roles are evolving. As the trend towards smaller teams continues, individual members’ responsibilities are widening to include managing a whole host of tasks and various types of data across new and legacy systems. This is putting strain on individuals, the IT team and the business as a whole, and it’s been recognised as a problem that could have disastrous consequences. To bring IT team members’ ever-widening remit under control, organisations are already starting to adopt consolidated solutions. 

In the past it’s been commonplace to deploy a proliferation of lightly integrated niche backup and recovery solutions. But that’s started to change and no wonder: managing that kind of protection has become complicated, time consuming and costly. CIOs are recognising it is high time we moved away from this model. In the data protection sphere, this will both simplify processes and drive down overhead costs. In the coming months, I expect to see organisations of all sizes leverage alternative disaster recovery planning techniques, and capitalise on emerging technologies to reduce the operational cost of backup and recovery. Comprehensive data protection solutions have started to emerge in the past year, as organisations look for the most effective ways to protect their data in every eventuality, and this trend will continue.

3. Disaster recovery takes centre stage 

As virtualisation continues to dominate IT infrastructures, more organisations will introduce a cloud component to their tape or disk-based disaster recovery strategies. Thanks to recent advancements in technology, cloud storage and higher bandwidth speeds are increasingly more affordable, enabling CIOs to move away from an on-premise disaster recovery solution towards a comprehensive hybrid infrastructure. This includes physical and service-based offerings, such as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). Covering all the bases means the effect of any outage or shutdown will be minimal. 

There will be a surge in demand for simple, unified data protection for cloud, virtual and physical environments, as IT teams will look for ways to enhance security, without impacting performance while still managing to meet tighter budgets.

This trend will impact the channel too. To meet growing customer demand, IT resellers and service providers will need to add a speciality cloud service offering, especially for small businesses that lack the necessary capability to provision, configure and test effective disaster recovery plans.  

4. Mitigating risk 

Data availability is critical to running a profitable business and mitigating unplanned downtime will continue to be a focus for IT leaders in 2017. 

However, boardrooms are asking IT teams to do more with less, in terms of both budget and resources. Teams are expected to move beyond straightforward data backup and recovery towards enterprise-level recovery point objectives and service level agreements. Consequently, IT teams will use risk management models to take a more economic approach to data protection. Organisations will determine the cost of application and data unavailability, by measuring both direct and indirect costs. As a result, we’ll start to see more emphasis on – and investment in – the most critical areas of weakness and risk within the infrastructure.  

5. System interdependency 

Every datacentre is a system of interlinked components. In an ideal world, they’re finely tuned, working together optimally at all times. We all know that’s not always the case though: the reality is, while IT systems and applications almost always overlap and intertwine, they are still typically monitored in silos, with differing levels of criticality.

To make sure the datacentre runs smoothly – and that vital data is backed up and easily recoverable – it’s crucial to have a good understanding of how each element fits and works within the infrastructure. In 2017, CIOs and their teams will focus on getting to grips with their system interdependence while applying the right level of protection and strengthening the weakest links in a cost-effective manner. 

Data protection and recovery should always be at the heart of every datacentre. We all understand the risks of losing data and the issues brought about when recovery takes too long. But I think 2017 is going to be the year that we discover the extra value the right data protection and recovery solution can bring to a business: that it can be an added level of protection against ransomware, that it can help to take the pressure off already stretched IT teams and simplify interconnected components in the IT infrastructure. 

Christophe Bertrand, VP of product marketing, Arcserve
Photo Credit: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock