By Johan Scheepers, SE Director MESAT for CommVault in South Africa,

Remaining competitive in a fast-paced, global marketplace is increasingly challenging for many organisations, and the need for agility with regard to products, services and even underlying IT infrastructure has become apparent. As a result, cloud-based solutions have gained significant traction in order to achieve the required agility levels. However, in this data-driven world, where data backup is absolutely critical to business continuity, many organisations have failed to adopt agility into their data recovery solutions. Data recovery systems need to support the increased agility of the business and become more agile in order to ensure data is always available, minimising downtime and financial losses whilst reducing risk to the organisation.CommVault - Johan Scheepers - smaller

The cloud offers organisations numerous benefits for any application, including on-demand scalability, reduced capital investment and ready access from anywhere, anytime. This has made it an attractive option for organisations looking to augment their data storage and deal with the vast content explosion of the past several years. However, while migrating data storage into the cloud can be beneficial, the focus for many organisations is on getting the data into the cloud and not necessarily on ensuring that data can be easily recovered in the event of a disaster. In addition, a large number of organisations make use of a combination of on-premise private data centres and cloud-based third-party solutions, creating a hybrid environment that adds further complexity to data recovery initiatives.

Disaster recovery is critical as it is basically an organisation’s insurance policy against the loss of information. Traditionally, simply having a single local backup of data was sufficient, however in today’s world where organisations need to grapple with vast volumes of information generated in real time from a variety of different directions, including the cloud, mobile platforms, social media, business to business transactions and more. This means that the complexity of data backup has become significant, and organisations need to look at a more flexible approach of implementing effective data protection strategy. The challenge here is that many organisations treat all information equally – from the canteen lunch menu to the CEO’s confidential emails – and there is no discrimination between different levels of importance and value. While organisations have embraced the evolution of the cloud, this has not delivered the ability to accurately categorise information, and in order to become more agile enterprises need to prioritise important information and declassify the less useful data. While this seems to be an insurmountable task, the answer lies in developing a greater understanding of the business and what is critical to function, important for continuity, and essential for everyday operations.

Agile data recovery ultimately stems from knowing more about information, including where, when and how it is created, stored and accessed, and the value of that information at every point in its lifecycle. It is a move away from the traditional strategy of simply storing everything, toward a more intelligent approach where data is protected according to its business value. Fundamentally, agile data recovery means understanding the behavioural characteristics of how information is used, in order to ensure it can be protected and secured more effectively.

Commvault recommends the top five ways to ensure agile data protection and recovery across cloud, on-premise and hybrid storage platforms and architectures.

1. Automate the recovery process from end-to-end. Human error is the major issue with manual interventions, and it can be costly to organisations. Automation effectively human error, which is one of the leading causes of data loss. Automating data protection and recovery removes this risk element.

2. The data backup and recovery solution must be integrated across the entire IT environment. Given the complexity of the current data storage landscape, integration of data protection and recovery tools is essential. Without integration, organisations are often faced with multiple toolsets, each with their own reporting, analysis and infrastructure to connect. When it comes to managing complicated environments with multiple tools, the complexity increases exponentially. Integration enables simplicity, providing a single platform for the management of data protection, recovery, compliance, search, eDiscovery and more.

3. The entire environment must be managed via a single platform. This stems from the need for integration and improved simplicity. A single platform will help to create visibility across data whether it resides on mobile, in the cloud, or within an organisation’s private data centre. A single toolset and management platform spanning the entire information landscape is essential for enhanced management and visibility.

4. A variety of technologies must be available for moving data off-site. Data is created in a vast variety of different ways today, and information now flows in an omni-directional way both from and to organisations. Organisations no longer have complete control over the migration of information, and IT practitioners need put into place secure processes and technologies to manage this flow by policy and the importance of data before it leaves the organisation. Trusted services and platforms are necessary to handle this migration in a secure manner.

5. The solution must be vendor agnostic. Or as vendor agnostic as possible in today’s world. The reality is that there is no such thing as a completely vendor agnostic solution, however data recovery needs to be able to work with a variety of different storage solutions in order to deliver the necessary levels of agility. The fewer solutions or platforms required to manage data the better.

Within data recovery, as with other aspects of technology, the key to agility lies in the cloud. However, simply migrating data to a cloud storage platform does not automatically provide agility. Organisations need to simplify their data management environment by classifying data according to importance, automating data the recovery process, and ensuring solutions can cover the entire environment, including cloud, on premise and hybrid solutions. Data protection and data recovery are critical elements of business continuity and sustainability, and solutions employed must keep pace with changing demands and IT environments in order to deliver accurate risk mitigation.

Data protection and data recovery are critical elements of business continuity and sustainability, and solutions employed must keep pace with changing demands and IT environments in order to deliver accurate risk mitigation.

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