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VMblog Expert Interview: Veeam Discusses 2021 Data Protection Report Research Findings

interview veeam dave russell 

Veeam Software recently concluded its 2021 Veeam Data Protection Report which examined how organizations expect to be prepared for the IT challenges they face, including reacting to demand changes and interruptions in service, global influences (such as COVID-19), and more aspirational goals of IT modernization and DX.

To learn more and dive in a bit, VMblog reached out to Dave Russell, the VP of Enterprise Strategy at Veeam.

VMblog:  The COVID-19 pandemic obviously had a major impact on enterprise data in 2020.  What went into the decision to focus on and analyze the impact of the pandemic through the lens of digital transformation (DX), versus other data topics like cybersecurity or backup resiliency?

Dave Russell:  2020 was a unique year for everyone, and business was no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the IT landscape, creating external pressures and new challenges for all. In response to the pandemic, we have seen organizations accelerate digital transformation (DX) initiatives by months and even years in order to stay in business. However, we found that the way in which data is managed and protected continues to undermine these DX efforts. We see a tale of digital have, and digital have-nots. A sort of digital divide that has occurred between those organizations further along in their digital transformation journey, and that have good data protection practices, as compared to the many other global business that find themselves in the complete opposite situation. This is why the team decided to focus our annual Data Protection Report on DX, to understand how they approached data protection and management today, and identify future trends.

VMblog:  What do the findings show as it relates to the state of digital transformation in the IT industry?

Russell:  COVID-19 has had a historic impact on the DX landscape. In many cases, you would expect DX plans to slow due to economic fears and reallocation efforts in IT departments. (In 28 percent of organizations, that is precisely what happened.) But there was also a massive increase in DX speed, with over 50 percent of organizations accelerating their DX initiatives. Organizations with mature DX plans accelerated their investments, however, the companies with less mature efforts tended to pause to focus on sustainability and overall business continuity.

Additionally, CXOs are aware of the need to adopt a cloud-first strategy, as the way we approach DX has completely changed due to COVID-19. Ninety-one percent of respondents increased their cloud services usage in the first months of the pandemic, and the majority will continue to do so, with 60 percent planning to add more cloud services to their IT delivery strategy. We foresee this trend continuing into 2021, as IT teams will plan to add more cloud services as the cornerstone to their DX strategies.

VMblog:  What are some reasons IT leaders name as some of the biggest roadblocks in achieving DX?  Were these all challenges brought on by the pandemic, or were there other factors?

Russell:  Overall, our respondents shared that their data protection capabilities are unable to keep pace with the DX demands of their organization. The time and money invested in responding to the most urgent IT and business continuity measures ultimately have DX fall to the wayside.

While businesses recognize the need to accelerate their DX journeys, 30 percent have admitted to slowing or pausing their DX initiatives in 2020, and another 40 percent maintain that economic uncertainty will continue to be the biggest threat to DX projects in in the next 12 months. In addition, the impediments to transformation continue to be multi-faceted, including IT teams being too focused on maintaining operations during the pandemic (53 percent), a dependency on legacy IT systems (51 percent), and a lack of IT staff skills to implement new technology (49 percent).

In the next 12 months, IT leaders will look to get their DX journeys back on track by finding immediate solutions to their critical data protection needs, with almost a third looking to move data protection to the cloud. Until these inadequacies are addressed, genuine transformation will continue to evade organizations.

VMblog:  Outside of digital transformation, what were key findings in data protection and cybersecurity efforts?  Was there anything particularly surprising found in the data?

Russell:  There continues to be a misperception that even with legacy data protection, the basics are still covered - the backup and recovery of essential data and applications. This could not be further from the truth.

Despite the integral role backup plays in modern data protection, 14 percent of all data is not backed up at all, and 58 percent of recoveries fail, leaving businesses' data unprotected and irretrievable in the event of an outage by cyber-attack. Furthermore, unexpected outages are common, with 95 percent of organizations experiencing them in the last 12 months. With 1 in 4 servers having at least one unexpected outage in the prior year, the impact of downtime and data loss is experienced all too frequently.

Crucially, businesses are seeing this hit their bottom line, with more than half of CXOs saying this can lead to a loss of confidence towards their organization from customers, employees, and stakeholders.

VMblog:  Can you also expand on some of the findings related to cloud and hybrid IT environments in a post-pandemic industry?

Russell:  We found lots of interesting developments and insights in cloud, backup & recovery solutions and modern data protection. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Backup is shifting from on-premises to cloud-based solutions that are managed by a service provider, with trajectory reported from 29 percent in 2020 to 46 percent anticipated by 2023.
  • 31 percent of respondents stated "improving resiliency" was one of the most important drivers of global organizations to change their backup solution. 22 percent stated improving the economics of their solution, including improving ROI/TCO and reducing as the main drivers for change.
  • 80 percent of organizations have an "availability gap" between how fast they can recover applications and how fast they need to recover them. 76 percent have a "protection gap" between how frequently data is backed-up versus how much data they can afford to lose after an outage.
  • 46 percent of organizations globally will partner with a Backup as a Service (BaaS) provider by 2023 and 51% plan to adopt Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) in the same timeframe.

VMblog:  I hear this report is one of the largest commissioned data protection surveys in the industry.  How are you looking to replicate in 2022?  Will we see an even bigger report come next?

Russell:  This indeed is the largest research undertaken in the data protection industry. In fact with this and several other research activities that are still running, Veeam will soon account for 4 of the 5 largest data protection research projects. For 2022 we certainly want to continue to monitor the effects of the pandemic on IT and the current state of Digital Transformation, but we will look more closely at specifics around cloud, containers, and a deeper examination of why availability remains such a challenge for so many businesses.

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Published Tuesday, March 23, 2021 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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