Ask clients a few years ago what concerned them most about data backups and it was universally about volumes.

By Servaas Venter, sales director: data protection solutions at Dell EMC SA

The amount of data they had to manage seemed insurmountable. I could see that for myself: in 1999 some of my enterprise customers were managing a terabyte of data. Today that is comfortably more than 20 petabytes – 20 000 terabytes. Yes, you read right – a thousand times more data for every year in the past two decades. How have companies not crumbled under this pressure?

For one, we live in a much more data-savvy world. I’ll give an example: when companies do backups today, at least through our systems, they use a process called deduplication. This ensures that only data that has changed is replaced instead of rewriting everything.

Other examples include the improvements towards enterprise workload and virtual machine backups and recovery. There is also more distinction between types of data and as such backup strategies. Some data require fast drives, other lots of bandwidth. Understanding the difference has made company backups much better and more efficient.

This is where we leave 2018: enterprises are more successful at backing up their data, solutions are easier to access thanks to virtualisation and the cloud, and the data tsunami is being tamed with intelligent backup services. These are all signs of a more digital-savvy world. We are finally reaping the rewards of digital transformation.

2019 is when we will start seeing backup strategies enter a new stage of maturity. Even though expanding data volumes are met with modern technology, those teams behind data management have not been growing.

Today the pressure on backup teams is greater than ever. In one way we avoided the data tsunami washing us all away, but in other areas companies have been standing still. The promise of shifting operational pressure away from backups hasn’t yet materialised.

There are two major trends that I believe will become standard in 2019. The first is automation: companies are looking for more opportunities to increase backup efficiency while moving valuable operation resources to other technology projects. The second trend is addressing data where it resides. In the multi-cloud world, data lives in many different places and moves dynamically as needed. Businesses are embracing self-service features around workloads, applications and virtual machines. Backups are following suit.

Securing data archives in more automated and agile ways will help companies become more dynamic. Devops teams need to be able to grab data sets for their own work without disrupting the backup operations or violating the sanctity of data management.

The data also needs to be kept safe from attacks – malware is increasingly targeting backup environments – and there is more demand for backup systems to have their own protection outside of other security measures in enterprises.

Today’s data backup and management market is significantly more mature, supported by proven new technologies.

Even though companies are dealing with 20 000 times more data than at the start of this century, that is under control. It’s the smarter and better use of data that defines today’s digitally mature organisation. They want their data to be dynamic, flexible and with more native control – all while giving operational teams their time back.

We’ll see backup control consolidate over multiple sources and become very automated. Very soon it won’t matter where your data is – it will be backed up as required and available to who needs it.

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