New Year’s resolutions for storage 2017

Resolution #1 – check that you know where all your data is getting stored

Storing data is getting more complex again. The growth of cloud applications like Office365 means that more data is getting stored in the cloud rather than on centralised storage platforms. At the same time, more users are working from their mobiles, tablets and laptops rather than corporate PCs.

The upshot of all this is that more data is moving outside the enterprise – Gartner and IDC have both predicted that more than 50% of all enterprise data will be reside exclusively on endpoint devices by 2020.

The explosion of data across multiple servers, laptops, desktops and cloud apps like Box, Office 365 and SalesForce means that this milestone will be reached sooner.

For storage professionals, this shift will have a big impact on secondary storage planning. To begin remedying this, look at where your organisation’s employees store their data. This means looking at the real world behaviour that exists, not just what is mandated.

Cloud services can actually help here too – while they might cause a proliferation of data getting spread across the business, they can also aid in consolidation too.

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Ultimately, the aim should be to help users work and IT retain control. This should not be a zero-sum game. You can have both.

The other benefit here is that it will make complying with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) much easier.

Not only will you be ahead in knowing what data exists and where it is stored, you should be able to put appropriate data management policies in place ahead of the deadline.

Resolution #2 – understand your cloud application backup policies

One of the big selling points for cloud applications is that someone else is responsible for the hardware and management of the service.

However, like all things in life, the reality is not so simple. Looking at the fine print for cloud applications is a necessary step, whether you have already moved to the cloud or not.

The aim here is to determine exactly what are you responsible for, and what your cloud providers are able and willing to cover. For many applications, areas like data backup and recovery are not included in the management service; alternatively, the data recovery element may not respond in time to meet your needs.

Now, this does not mean that moving to the cloud is something to avoid; indeed, the benefits from cloud services around ease of use, flexibility and cost reduction can make a shift worthwhile.

The main lesson here should be that you should have your eyes open and all responsibilities laid out clearly, so that gaps in processes can be rectified.

Resolution #3 – put better backup processes in place to deal with ransomware

Ransomware will continue to be a big issue in 2017. The volume of attacks is expected to continue growing, and the majority of those companies hit by this will pay up to rescue their files.

According to research by IBM, around 70% of companies affected by ransomware paid up.

The costs here are not cheap either – around half of companies were stung for bills over $10,000, with some paying between $20,000 and $50,000. This expense can be far higher than the costs to run a decent data recovery process.

>See also: Enterprise storage in 2017: trends and challenges

The security industry is collaborating to find and break ransomware so that individuals and companies can get their files back without having to pay.

However, preparing in advance can be much easier than waiting and hoping. The important element here is to review the whole process that goes into saving data created by employees. This includes testing the retrieval of data and files to ensure that everything works as expected.

Resolution #4 – look at how to consolidate data management around secondary storage

Secondary storage refers to all the data created to support the business over time that isn’t directly related to transactions.

Backup and recovery of transaction data is one area, while archival of data for long-term storage is also included.

Legal compliance and eDiscovery tasks can require the creation of more sets of data. Lastly, other use cases like testing or analytics could come under the secondary storage banner as well.

Traditionally, each of these use cases would create its own set of data that would then need to be stored. While each set of data provides the business with value, the cost can be mount up rapidly.

When budgets are limited, this often leads IT to prioritise certain requirements over others, or avoid backing up data at all. Compliance with industry regulations may force investments to be made, but these requirements will receive the bare minimum of effort to comply.

Consolidating secondary storage in the cloud can help here as these vendors have a vested interest for cost reasons to optimize storage footprint and increase data usage flexibility.

This would involve cutting the number of copies of data stored, while maintaining each use case. To make this work effectively, more automation around how data is stored is required.

For example, backup tends to be focused on recently created data that is needed quickly, while archive versions will be stored for specific timeframes and to meet legal requirements.

By looking at the lifecycle that exists around data and use cases, the overall volume of storage required can be reduced while each use case can be met properly.

Resolution #5 – link up services around information management where you can – make the cloud do the work

Alongside all the data that company employees create, there will be information management tasks that have to be carried out. A good example here is how companies can be affected by legal issues – in the case of a lawsuit, files and records will have to be pored over and exact copies created that can be used to defend against any accusation.

The eDiscovery process around an issue can take a huge amount of manual work, particularly when it involves emails or documents that are only found on specific laptop devices, phones or on branch office storage devices.

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Traditionally, this process would involve sequestering those physical devices so that they can be handled appropriately and in compliance with legal requirements.

The impact on productivity, both for individuals and for the IT team, can therefore be high. Take a file server out of a branch office and it can knock out an office for days, for example.

The use of cloud services for areas like email or for writing documents should reduce some of this burden in future, but the tools for carrying out eDiscovery are also making their way into the cloud as well.

Linking up these services so they can communicate securely in the cloud can take a huge burden away from IT. These kinds of information management task can benefit from the convenience of cloud.

Looking ahead into 2017, there will be problems caused by the greater flexibility and mobility that employees are required to have, while the adoption of more cloud applications will cause additional challenges.

However, these issues can be solved through looking at how to apply smart thinking, better processes and cloud technology.


Sourced by Jaspreet Singh, CEO at Druva

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...