Why a unified approach is the future of backup

The evolving data landscape

Though backup and disaster recovery solutions have always been critical components for any business, the pandemic has most certainly put a spotlight on the many threats to data today. Cybercrime is rampant, with ransomware, account takeover attacks, and phishing schemes all proliferating over the past year and a half. And while hardware failures may not make the news the way cybercrime does, they are a frequent occurrence that can cause significant data loss across an organisation along with deletions through user error or malicious intent.

To add to the problem, the shift to remote working over the past 18 months has changed the way organisations protect and store their data. Businesses had to accelerate their move to the cloud in the wake of the pandemic, resulting in data now living in more places than it ever did before. This data is growing 33 times faster than those who manage it. Analyst firm IDC found that 64.2 zettabytes of data were created in 2020 alone. This now means that backup solutions must also look to protect the data centre, endpoints, cloud and software as a service (SaaS).

Coupled with this, there is often zero tolerance for downtime in an always-on world. Businesses are, often unrealistically, expected to be back up and running as normal immediately after a system failure.

The challenges ahead  

It’s crucial that businesses start to equip themselves with integrated solutions that span both traditional security and backup functions to help prevent, anticipate, and mitigate account compromise and data loss. Unfortunately, many organisations’ current backup solutions, as well as their business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategies, make it tough to face these issues head on. In fact, a recent survey from IT and security management solutions provider Kaseya found that 54% of IT professionals stated that cybersecurity and data protection were their biggest current challenges.

Backup is often manual and unreliable, with administrators often wasting 10 hours or more per week babysitting the process and spending a great deal of time fixing errors that arise. Additionally, tests to ensure that disaster recovery, or even just local recoveries, will work well have become more important as the amount of data continues to grow. But since these tests are often time-consuming, they typically aren’t completed as frequently as they need to be, are completed in inadequate ways, or sometimes not at all.

Because of the growth of data in a variety of places, organisations often have multiple solutions that involve various workflows—all of which need monitoring on an ongoing basis. The need to switch between different solutions eats into valuable technician time and increases the likelihood of errors occurring.

Why a unified approach is best

The only way that IT technicians can stay ahead of the curve and protect their data from the growing number of threats is through a unified BCDR approach that provides them with innovative security features, time-saving automation and the ability to back up anything, anywhere.  As cyberthreats evolve, IT threat detection must evolve as well, and solutions now must incorporate cutting-edge security features that protect against today’s most pressing threats. Tools like Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies also play a key role in detecting malware and anomalies in backup behaviours by being able to stop malicious actors before they infect an entire network or gain access to critical data. In addition to ransomware protection, features like dark web monitoring and anti-phishing defence capabilities provide another layer of protection from pervasive threats like credential compromise and account takeover attacks.

Automation is another key component to the future of backup, as IT professionals saw a significant increase in their workloads due to the pandemic—and the need only increases as many organisations have now adapted to support a permanent hybrid workforce. With technicians spending up to 33% of their day monitoring, managing and troubleshooting backups, a truly unified solution is needed to provide a single view of the entire data landscape, saving time and reducing human error.  By using backup solutions that proactively remediate common production issues before they impact a successful backup, IT professionals can now spend less time on repetitive, manual tasks and more time keeping their organisations moving forward.

And because data sprawl will only continue to grow, solutions must have the flexibility to safeguard information where it is housed. Part of the ability to protect data anywhere also includes the capability to monitor this same data from one unified dashboard, as having to move between multiple systems wastes time and increases room for error.

How to budget for this approach

Though spending in many organisations has begun to normalise, IT budgets will more than likely continue to be stretched further as demands continue to increase. In fact, 62% of respondents in the same Kaseya survey said their IT budgets had either decreased or remained flat in 2021. Since many organisations may be wary of large capital expenditures due to the financial impact of the pandemic, IT professionals find it best to advocate for a subscription-based plan that allows data protection to be an operating expense instead of a capital expense.

Though backup may not be the most visible part of the IT process, the risks to data are clear. A unified BCDR solution not only provides the data protection needed, but also cuts costs and can easily scale as the organisations’ data expands. Regardless of their size, businesses should prioritise a unified BCDR approach, encompassing a strong backup capability to help ensure their IT environments are adequately protected in the event of any disaster. With such a unified approach, IT professionals can not only better protect their data from anything the future holds, but can restore it and be up and running again in just minutes, not hours and days.


About the Author

Joe Noonan is Product Executive, Backup and Disaster Recovery for Unitrends and Spanning. Joe Noonan has spent over 18 years delivering hardware and software technology solutions for virtualisation, cloud, data protection, and disaster recovery.  He has worked for Unitrends since 2010, driving its software product strategy for data protection, recovery automation, and cloud disaster recovery and migration.  Joe has also held roles in developing technology alliances and now runs Product Management and Marketing for the full backup and DR suite at Kaseya, which includes Unitrends, Spanning and Kaseya branded backup solutions.

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