Revisiting Strategies for Data Protection from #BUDRInsightJam

Disaster Recovery

December 15th marked the Second Annual #BUDRInsightJam hosted by Solutions Review. The celebration focused on all things backup, disaster recovery and data protection. While many of us at HYCU focus on these items daily, to have a specific day of the year like this, beyond World Backup Day, is special. This year’s event, like last year’s, was packed with invaluable information. It's a day where many of the industry’s leaders shared best practices, tips and insights while also providing demos of each companies’ solutions in the Insight Jam Expo Hall.

Also, as part of this year’s #BUDRInsightJam, there were two executive panel discussions. I joined the panel discussion at 1:00 pm, “Strategies for Data Protection – A Live Panel Discussion on Backup and Disaster Recovery,” moderated by Demetrius Malbrough. For those of you who don’t follow Demetrius, you should. He hosts a weekly podcast, Data Protection Gumbo. He brings out the best of everyone he interviews and the #BUDRInsightJam executive roundtable was no exception. The other panelists were Andrea Sayles, GM of Business Resiliency Services, IBM; Douglas Brockett, President, StorageCraft and JG Heithcock, GM, Retrospect.

As much as I would like to share the entirety of the conversation, I thought I’d pull out a few relevant answers. I’d encourage everyone to take the time to listen to this executive roundtable along with the other one that was later in the day.

Question: How has this year’s shift (due to the pandemic) to remote working impacted day-to-day operations and activities?

Answer: We actually titled this year not just the Year of COVID, but the year of migration. HYCU is the first backup as a service vendor to provide natively-integrated backup for Google Cloud. It was only two years ago people were saying, “if my data is in the cloud it must be safe.” That has definitely changed. In this, the year of COVID, we are seeing many businesses and people flock to the cloud. The systems integrator and backup service providers are all saying the same thing. The same rules that applied for on-prem have to apply in the cloud for data protection. You are seeing backup as a service in the cloud go from being a second-class citizen to a first-class citizen. All of a sudden people need to make sure all their applications and databases are protected. They also can’t get professional services folks in to help. To work, everything has to be native. Everything has to be self-service. They’re saying they need to migrate more and more of their workloads in record times without help or support. It has really shifted the paradigm in what is expected from backup. This has all made cloud-native vendors leaders in what is expected.

Question: What is the decision-making process with the new data protection environment? It’s also not a question of having a disaster recovery plan in place “if” something happens but “when” something happens?

Answer: In terms of this year, more than just the emphasis on working from home, there really was a COVID Curve. This impacted purchasing and buying cycles for countries around the globe. In the US, we saw pretty robust adoption immediately. People pretty quickly saw we were going into lockdown. We needed to deal with ransomware. For us, we saw a massive increase in business and new customer adoption. The digital transformation curve went off the charts. For countries outside the US, there was this quandary. Do we spend money now or do we wait and see? In May, we had one buying pattern of wait and see. When the summer came, everyone hit the gas and decided they needed to do something right away. It was clear to many that ransomware was not going to stop. The move to the cloud remained a priority. COVID was not going away. We started seeing retroactive growth coming out of Europe. In many ways the fear factor was not just about working from home but it was also about cybercrime. We have seen this almost every week with some new announcement about another ransomware attack. There was fear both with COVID along with the increase in cyberattacks which heightened fear across the industry. For us, being able to offer simpler solutions, natively-integrated that have the air gapping technology that is necessary to protect our customers is way more important than it was a year ago.

Question: There’s been a mention of ransomware, not that we want to take it there, but what’s the latest there?

Answer: It’s something we are seeing more and more in our business. We have a lot of great customer testimonials on how we support and protect against ransomware because we are integrated at the storage snapshot level with the platforms we support and have essentially made backup a black box. This makes it difficult for hackers to exploit. Because of that, we have helped save our customers millions in bitcoin ransoms. It’s those moments that make you feel really good about your job and your company because you know you are really helping people. The message here is, don’t delay. People in the past have purchased a new primary storage platform and thought about backup later. Today, because the native integration to the platform is so important, it’s more important than ever before to make those purchases simultaneously. I’ve been thrilled to see the industry move in this direction. Backup has a huge role to play in protecting customers against ransomware.

Question: Let’s look into the future. What do you expect the data protection space to look like in 2021 and beyond?

Answer: One, the lines of demarcation between data protection and cyber security are starting to blend. The lines are a little less defined than they were a few years ago. In the future we will see more advanced levels of encryption. We’ll also see DLP and more additions to the data protection arsenal that will blend the lines even further. The second thing is containers. Containerization is not in its infancy any more and may not be as wide spread as some may say but I do think it’s going to be. We do certainly see it more in the FORTUNE 500 and Global 2,000. It’s getting into much larger swaths of the data center and the data estate. Not just Kubernetes but the metadata and infrastructure and everything in between. I do think it will be more important in 2021 and beyond.

Question: What are the signs you should update your current backup solution?

Answer: When you are spending more time on your backup than you are on your primary storage, there’s a problem. When you are slowing down adoption of your primary storage platform because of your data protection, there’s a problem. When you look at how many resources you are spending and how much time you are putting into each of those segments of your data estate, you can pretty quickly see where the problems are. The biggest question for our customers is, are you able to get the most out of your primary storage platform? Are there areas where your data protection is failing you or preventing you from using some of the functionality of your primary storage platform? If there are, then it’s time to go.

Question: Let’s say someone is looking for work. What’s the number one skill a backup or storage administrator should have going into 2021?

Answer: I’d say, go out and get as many platform certifications as you can. That’s the number one item that comes up with our own engineers. I would say the other area is cybersecurity. HYCU partners with Kevin Powers, program director for the new master's degree in cybersecurity policy and governance offered by the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College. The certification program there is incredible. Go online. Take advantage of what they have to offer and use it to better understand what the threats and risks are. If you do, it will hold you in good stead.

I also wanted to extend a personal note of thanks to the other panelists, Andrea, Douglas and JG, as well as the organizers at Solutions Review for another outstanding event. And, again to Demetrius for doing such a great job of moderating and making the conversation interesting, timely and valuable. Like many, we’ll be looking forward to next year’s Jam to talk about how well we did with our predictions. To learn more about HYCU, drop us a note at info@hycu.com, or please take the time to experience what we do firsthand by checking out tryhycu.com. Like more than 2,000 customers worldwide, we know you won’t be disappointed.

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