'Enterprises Will Move to Complete Disk Adoption'

by CXOtoday Staff    Dec 16, 2009

The last five years have triggered a dramatic shift in demand for data protection technologies and organizations now realise they have more platforms, applications, servers, virtual machines, and databases to protect and manage than ever before. Anand Naik, director (systems engineering) of Symantec India in an interaction with CXOtoday explains how the changing data protection landscape will force enterprises to turn to technologies such as Storage-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing.

How has the data
protection landscape changed over the years? 


Around fifteen years ago, organizations relied on tape automation offerings to
provide low cost-storage solutions for backup and recovery. At the time, data
protection primarily dealt with how fast one could spin tape which was then
sent to a central location. Around five or six years ago, there came a turning
point when virtual tape libraries (VTLs) - disk arrays that emulate tape
drives, media and libraries - were introduced into the market which helped
improve performance of the backup and recovery process.


Initially, adopters of disk-based data protection were only tech-savvy
enterprises with the greatest need and tolerance for new technology. But today,
enterprises are increasingly moving from a tape-centric data protection
environment to a disk-centric one as it also helps leverage newer technologies
such as server virtualisation and data archiving.


Have most organizations made that shift or are there some that lag behind?


Today, a majority of traditional enterprises are migrating past tape
technologies and shifting to disk as a first line of protection thanks to less
disruptive offerings such as VTLs and technologies such as snapshots that are
easier to manage. But there are still some organizations that continue to
purchase and use Tape. Nevertheless, we can clearly see a trend of transition
to next-generation disk-based technologies among enterprise.


The shift has been accelerated due to:


Transparency and regulation requirements: If data is lost (particularly
customer data), the law in many states require full disclosure.  So the ability of IT staff to implement
proper data protection policies becomes public information. Similarly, many
public organizations must comply with strict regulations often enforced by
outside auditors and agencies.


Service Level Agreements (SLAs): SLAs have become increasingly stringent.  Five years ago it was acceptable to recover
data within a day or two of the request. 
Now, data must be recovered within hours at a minimum - and quite often
within a matter of minutes.


What do you anticipate the next five years will bring in terms of data
protection technologies and innovation? Similarly, what are the trends you are
predicting over the next five years will bring in terms of technology and
innovation?


We anticipate
several trends will continue with regard to the typical customer s
environment.  First, there would be
platforms, applications, servers, virtual servers, and databases which will be
spread out globally, heterogeneous in nature and available 24×7. 

Due to strict recovery time objectives (RTOs), we expect enterprises to move to
complete adoption of disk. 


At the same time, we anticipate another shift in data protection as more users
adopt Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and backup in to the cloud
technologies.  A recent Springboard
research report revealed India
will be the fastest growth market for SaaS. From under $55 million in 2007,
SaaS revenues from India
are expected to grow at a CAGR of 76 per cent to reach $260 million by 2011.
These technologies are the next step in protecting global data across a highly
distributed IT environment.


How would the trends in data protection over the next five years differ for the
SMB as well as enterprise players?


Simplicity is the key element for SMBs. This is so because most small
businesses simply don t have the staff or expertise to spend time managing data
protection. Symantec’s 2009 Global SMB Security and Storage survey results,
which drew responses from 600 companies out of Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ),
noted the low adoption of basic storage measures in the region with 53%
functioning without a desktop backup and recovery solution.

Findings on storage further revealed 70% SMBs are extremely concerned with
backup and recovery of data and we therefore expect technologies such as backup
in to the cloud and SaaS gaining prominence. 
In fact SaaS offerings are more appealing to SMBs due to lack of a local
infrastructure and they can easily partner with a third-party provider to
protect data and servers


For the mid-market and enterprise customer, customization and central
management have become priority. 
Enterprises need central management to protect their diverse set of
applications and infrastructure and have also identified a more stringent need
to protect desktops and laptops.  Most
mid-market and enterprise organizations have employees working from home or
remote locations and often desktops and laptops are not adequately protected. The
second priority for enterprises is customization in order to implement backup
strategies for each application and treat them differently based on SLAs.


What are the top drivers contributing to the tremendous data growth that we are
experiencing?


Explosive data growth has been a defining feature in the growth of the storage
infrastructure over the past 10 years. The amount of data captured and stored
has climbed impressively. Growth in data may be driven by a corresponding
growth in business activity, but even businesses that maintain the same size
are likely to generate more and more data each year.

 

Storage growth is
being driven mainly by two factors: consumer-generated content and regulatory
compliance. There has also been tremendous amount of growth in unstructured
data which is giving rise to storage growth in India. According to a report
released by IDC, unstructured data in traditional data centers will eclipse the
growth of transaction-based data that has been recently the bulk of enterprise
data processing. The report indicates that transactional data projected to grow
at a compound annual growth rate of 21.8%, while unstructured data by 61.7%
CAGR in data centers. Another report issued by IDC suggests that critical data
is growing at a rate of 52% per year.


What are the biggest gaps in data protection today?  What do typical IT organizations fail to
consider when protecting their data?


There are gaps in data protection across all market segments starting with the
home user.  The typical home user does
not have a strategy in place for protecting their data.  At the same time, the home PC contains
critical information (financial information, pictures, music, etc).  The first that should be brought in focus is
awareness.  Increasingly end users are
beginning to realize how valuable data that is stored on their home PC is, but
many aren t taking the steps to back up that data or protect it yet. 


Similarly, the typical small business often does not have a knowledgeable IT
person overseeing data protection.  Or,
if they do get set up with a backup strategy, they don t have a process to
regularly test data backup and recovery and ensure the appropriate process is
in place.


For enterprise customers, the increasing complexity of data that needs to be
protected, along with the distributed and heterogeneous nature of data and
applications, makes it easy for something to fall through the cracks of a
data protection strategy.  Enterprises
are also dealing with increasing storage, power and cooling costs and cannot
afford to continue to add hardware, tape arrays, and disk arrays.  Newer technologies like data de-duplication
and continuous data protection (CDP) are potential solutions that enable
enterprises to get more intelligent about protecting distributed data. Traditional (tape-centric) data protection technologies try to funnel a large
amount of data to a single storage device (Tape or VTL). 


Today, customers have a large amount of mission critical 24×7 applications that
are highly distributed.  Next generation
data protection technologies allow users to manage this data from a single
platform, reducing the total cost of ownership. 


How have stringent
SLAs driven data protection technology innovation?


SLAs are tighter and
stricter for the large enterprise organization. Often, these organizations must
achieve 99% success rates for backup data. 

The typical enterprise simply cannot afford to have any downtime and can t lose
even an hour s worth of transactions. SLAs ultimately drive customers to shrink
backup windows and ensure immediate data recovery.  These requirements often force customers to
prioritize new products and technologies based on what will enable them to
continue to meet strict SLAs, as well as to implement a tiering strategy for
applications and servers in order to determine where the most mission-critical
data resides. 


How do data protection technologies help IT organizations become more efficient
and reduce complexity as their IT budgets and resources are shrinking in
today s economy?


As IT infrastructures and data centres become more complex, data protection
needs to become simpler to manage the complexity.  In other words, as the data users are using
different modes for storing data, the data protection solution needs to examine
everything in the same way.  The best way
to manage data protection is to categorize things into simpler forms - whether
it s an application, database, server, disk, tape, or networks, it all produces
one thing, data. 

That data should be managed from a single pane of glass. Often, organizations
implement single point products to address each individual data protection
challenge.  The result is often a
proliferation of tools that ultimately increase the cost of management.  Data protection should work across a wide variety
of platforms, should handle disk, tape, and virtual machines, and should adapt
as the infrastructure changes.