Data storage and data protection have come a long way, indeed, first propelled to great heights by the exponential growth of data in the 2000s and then by the rise of VMware at around the same time. The future of both looks even brighter, though there will be quite a few challenges along the way—the most pressing being the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats.
“It [the emergence of data storage and data protection] is driven by various other factors, like the massive growth in applications and workloads,” said Charles Chow, Commvault Director of Sales Engineering, in an exclusive interview with Data & Storage Asean. “But by and large, without a shadow of a doubt, VMware was really truly the major enabler of all these trends.”
Curiously, Commvault observed sometime in 2015 “a slight decline in traditional storage systems” despite more and more data being created. “It was bizarre because while we were generating more data than ever before, how was it that legacy vendors were selling a lot less?” asked Chow rhetorically, before pointing out how the rise of Software-Defined Storage (SDS) is “changing the storage landscape forever.”
As for what is in store for data storage in the future, in particular, Chow noted how data storage has “consistently pivoted around availability, performance and scalability.” Meaning, whatever capabilities related to all three will continue to dictate data storage trends moving forward.
Applications-Focused Data Protection
The future of data protection, on the other hand, is slightly different, according to Chow, as its requirements are closely related to applications and workloads. In particular, data protection is increasingly app-centred, thereby necessitating the use of different apps for different data protection needs.
“For example, you have [Microsoft] Outlook and you’ll protect it differently from, say, an accounting package you have installed,” explained Chow. “This similarly applies to enterprise when we have new applications. If there is a new version, a new feature, and if you want to recover data on it, people like Commvault or any data protection vendor work very closely with the providers as well as the customers. And that’s not just one application; it’s hundreds and hundreds of applications within the data centre.”
Now, more than ever, Chow said it is vital that organisations work closely with data protection vendors like Commvault not only because so much more data is being created but also because of several other factors. Chow identified three:
Cross-border data sharing.
More customers looking to move their data and workloads into the cloud.
The continued rise of home working, which is compounding the two previously mentioned factors.
Given these considerations, Chow advises businesses to have in place organisational best practices in terms of data protection. One, in particular, that Commvault can help with is data profiling and analytics, which can help in identifying personal data and related risks, and then in making sure that that there are audit trails for all of the organisation’s data management capabilities. In other words, companies need to first identify what they are protecting, to begin with before they can offer the necessary protection.
The Layered Approach to Data Protection
Chow, though, was quick to emphasise the inevitability of a data breach hitting an organisation at one point or another. “It’s not a matter of if you’ll get hit,” Chow noted. “It’s really a matter of when you’ll get hit, and when you do get hit, how do you recover from it?”
This is why Chow is recommending that organisations adopt a layered approach to security, likening it to how people would generally protect their homes—with locks in the front and back doors, safety features on windows, hi-tech devices such as CCTVs and motion detectors installed where possible, and valuables kept in a safety box or similar safekeeping equipment.
The same principle applies on the enterprise level, where organisations should build firewalls and security devices at the perimeter; deploy detection and response solutions on networks “to hunt, detect and respond against threats; do security hardening on operating systems and establish security best practices and education throughout the organisation.” As a final layer, companies also need to have in place robust data protection and backup strategy “if all else fails”—the safety box in the home protection analogy Chow had given.
“When we [Commvault] talk to our customers, we don’t say we’re here to stop ransomware,” said Chow. “We are just another layer in the many layers you [organisations] should be building. And we are that last line generally. The whole premise of this is to make it as difficult as possible to get through every hurdle, and if all else fails, at least you know you have a remote copy backed up.”
Data Management Is Vital Moving Forward
While companies think and rethink their data storage and data protection strategies, it is just as important that they start looking into their data management approach. Decades ago, data management was not necessarily a major concern yet, largely because the amount of data being produced back then was by and large manageable.
But things have changed considerably nowadays with the world producing, on average, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily in 2020, and that number is expected to rise to 463 exabytes every single day by 2025. Compounding matters is the disparate locations from where data is being created, whether on-premises or from remote locations all around the world.
“Now, things are different. You’re creating data that is on-premises, you’re creating data on the cloud, you’re creating data on your laptops. Your teams are working from home. All these data are scattered across everywhere,” explained Chow. “How do you then link all these data sets? How do you then pinpoint what’s sensitive and what’s not sensitive? So, data management extends beyond protection. It extends to governance, it extends to discovery and it extends to privacy.”
One Small Step at a Time
With all that is going on in terms of data storage, data protection and data management, Chow is advising organisations to take things one by one and to start in small forms, focusing only on one aspect of the data centre at any given time. This especially applies to data management, which overlaps with both data protection and data storage already.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean I need to implement this full-blown solution and include all the data sets altogether,” Chow pointed out. “It’s never that. It’s always a phased approach and I recommend [that] to all our customers as well.”
This phased approach, not coincidentally, is best paired with Commvault, whose data management and data protection are purposefully built from the ground up—and as a single, unified platform no less. Little wonder Commvault has once again been named a Leader in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for a 10th consecutive year. This distinction, according to Chow, is further testament to Commvault’s industry-leading position in data management and data protection and clear proof as to why organisations should turn to it for their data-related needs.