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Asigra 2017 Predictions: The Year of the Cloud - Five Data Protection Prophecies

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Eran Farajun, Executive Vice President, Asigra

The Year of the Cloud: Five Data Protection Prophecies

If I look back at our predictions for 2016, I realize that our insights and predictions on several market dynamics were realized.  With many organizations embracing SaaS applications like Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce as well as other cloud based infrastructures and technologies, protecting data in the cloud is becoming top of mind for many IT professionals. 

In 2017, we will continue to see exponential data growth which will force greater adoption of converged end-to-end data protection solutions as organizations look for better economies and efficiencies for data protection in the data center and beyond.

Multi-Cloud Strategies

Several disaster events made headlines in 2016, from legacy hardware failures such as Delta Airlines' worldwide outage, natural disasters including Hurricane Matthew and the Baton Rouge flood, to DDoS attacks bringing Azure and Dyn's DNS services to their knees.  These moments certainly jarred the companies and customers involved, and were also a wake-up call for the entire IT industry.

Next year, I expect more organizations to move towards a multi-cloud strategy, i.e. organize their information systems across multiple public, hybrid and private clouds. Not all clouds are created equal, and some are more suited to certain workloads than others. By adopting multiple clouds, enterprises will benefit from greater redundancy, performance and reduced costs.

If one of an organization's clouds is affected by a physical disaster or malicious attack, a multi-cloud strategy means that other aspects of their operations will be minimally affected. Now more than ever, it's important to avoid placing all of your eggs in one basket.

The virtualization of the data center, and the conversion of physical machines to virtual machines (P2V) has significantly cut down on the time and effort needed to migrate machines between clouds. With multiple clouds, you can easily fail over to a "hot" or "warm" site on another cloud to get your RTOs as close to zero as possible. A public cloud such as AWS and Azure can be an easy "drop in" solution for a disaster recovery site, without incurring the capital expenditures of building the infrastructure yourself.

Office 365 Data Protection

Many organizations appreciate the convenience and cost savings of moving to a cloud based productivity suite such as Office 365. What they don't realize is the world of hurt they'll be in if they experience a data loss without their own data protection strategy. Companies like Microsoft keep their own internal backups for a short period of time, but you don't have access to them. If you might ever need previous generations of your Exchange mailboxes, SharePoint sites or OneDrive data, you can only guarantee that with your own backups.

In 2016, we saw many large organizations rush to protect their Office 365 data with their own backups. Especially for compliance-driven industries such as financial services and health care, retention of Exchange emails was a paramount concern. In an increasingly litigious world, not being able to produce an email under subpoena can lead to losing multi-million dollar lawsuits or even jail time.

I expect this trend to accelerate in 2017 as Microsoft pushes hard on its cloud-first strategy and their competitors follow. As traditional backup software falls short on protecting SaaS applications, organizations will look to comprehensive solutions that can protect both their cloud and traditional datasets in one fell swoop.

Cybersecurity - The Promulgation of Ransomware

Cybersecurity is not just about the colossal leaks of proprietary and state secrets you hear about on the news. Mid-size and small organizations are increasingly being targeted by ransomware attacks, designed to extort anywhere from $200 to $10,000 in exchange for the private key to their data.

The bad guys know that targeting smaller organizations with less robust defenses makes them less likely to get caught. Many are offshore, sitting far beyond the reach of your local and national police forces. Besieged businesses, including high street banks in the UK who are stocking up on Bitcoins to pay the ransom, would rather give into the criminals' demands than risk a PR nightmare. Unfortunately, this incents the spread of newer and more potent types of ransomware, which can encrypt files on your entire network from a single infected node.

In 2017, more organizations will replace traditional antivirus and firewall software with endpoint protection, intrusion decision and Security as a Service solutions. Another key part of their defenses will be comprehensive backup and disaster recovery solutions, which will enable them to recover faster from ransomware attacks and maintain business continuity.

I'm hopeful that more companies will be prepared against an inevitable ransomware attack, restoring their data from a backup instead of being forced to enrich the cybercriminals we all so desperately want to stop in their tracks.

Backup as a Service

It has never been easy to be a sysadmin, but the jigsaw puzzle of SaaS applications, virtual and physical servers, desktops and mobile devices certainly isn't doing you any favors. Luckily, backup as a service lets you outsource your data protection to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) who will set up all of your data sources, monitor your backups and assist you in the event of a disaster.

Data protection is like insurance - you want to pay as little as you can for it, until you need it. While cost shouldn't be the only consideration which Backup as a Service (BaaS) provider you go with, different pricing models exist, including by capacity, per socket and more rarely, based on the percentage of data you recover. Depending on your usage patterns, one of these pricing models (or a combination of them) may save you more on your data protection costs.

Another benefit of backup as a service is how data is automatically backed up off-site, without the hassle of traditional methods such as transporting tapes to a remote location. Sure, there are bandwidth and security considerations when transmitting data over a WAN to your BaaS provider's cloud - but with the right software, those problems are not insurmountable. Modern solutions support change block tracking and incremental backups to minimize bandwidth costs. You should also look for AES-256 encryption to protect your data in-flight and at-rest.

This year, more enterprises will begin backing up their data to the cloud freeing up limited IT resources for other important projects. As the senior executive of a data protection vendor, I have personally heard countless stories of how invaluable a steady set of hands at an BaaS provider can be in the event of a catastrophic data loss and recovery.

Disaster Recovery as a Service

Disaster recovery as a service, DRaaS for short, goes one step further and not only facilitates the recovery of data, but also the failover of entire systems. According to ESG, the average enterprise is only willing to tolerate 49 minutes of downtime, given that the cost of downtime stretches into millions of dollars per hour. That's why organizations are about to put 11.1 billion behind DRaaS by 2021, an estimated 45.6% CAGR from a 1.68 billion market size in 2016 (Markets & Markets).

Ensuring business continuity across physical and virtual datacenters has been a challenge this year, and will continue to be in 2017. Enterprises are looking to DRaaS providers for a comprehensive solution that will help them meet the tight RTOs stakeholders expect

Harking back to my prediction about multi-cloud strategies, disaster recovery is one of the areas where diversifying your workloads across multiple clouds is absolutely essential. These days, you can never be too careful about spreading out your data across different geographical regions to maintain high availability in the event of a natural disaster or malicious attack.

Failover times are poised to decrease from an industry standard of about 5 minutes right now to almost immediately for mission critical workloads. By leveraging multiple clouds you can take advantage of real-time replication to a "warm" site that can be brought up at a moment's notice. With the combination of replication and snapshot-based DRaaS technology, you can also rollback to an older version of your VMs if you are affected by ransomware, for instance.

The Bottom Line: How You Can Start Preparing for 2017

As the industry moved towards hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) that combines physical and virtual machines, your data protection strategy also needs to evolve. In today's economy, companies need to do more with less, while maintaining the quality of service that their customers expect.

Moving towards fewer solutions, or even better a single solution, that covers an enterprise's total data protection needs including SaaS, virtual machines and traditional hardware will be a huge theme in 2017. Furthermore, backup and disaster recovery as a service providers will provide organizations the cost certainty and expertise they need to successfully transform their data protection strategy.

While we can certainly hope 2017 will be a calmer year, now is the time to start assessing the threats that datacenters in your region are the most vulnerable to. There are some universal ones like ransomware and cyberattacks, but also regional ones such as floods and hurricanes. As you add new infrastructure to your IT portfolio, be sure to evaluate if any new data protection considerations have arisen and whether your existing strategy is up to the task of safeguarding that new data.


About the Author 

Eran Farajun is Executive Vice President of Asigra where he is responsible for the company's global expansion, marketing, business development and long-term strategic activities for the company's cloud backup and recovery software platform. Additionally, Eran oversees strategic relationships with Asigra's technology and channel partners who have helped grow deployments of Asigra Cloud Backup to more than 1,000,000 sites worldwide.

As a backup technology veteran with over 18 years of experience in cloud-based data protection, Eran frequently speaks at industry conferences, such as VMworld U.S., MSPWorld, , Cloud Expo Europe and regional vertical focused events to evangelize and raise awareness about the business benefits achieved with cloud-based technologies.

Eran Farajun 

Published Thursday, December 01, 2016 8:01 AM by David Marshall
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