Traditionally, organizations think of data protection simply as a way to backup files, folders, data, and even entire drives. While backups are valuable and sit at the heart of data protection, it’s evolving into data resilience, the ability to restore the business, not just the data, after an incident.
We at Evolving Solutions have observed three trends that prompt organizations to move to a greater data resilience model:
- Organizations increasingly value data as their most precious resource. Data is no longer the output of business but core to making the business run.
- Organizational data strategies focus on the business, business outcomes, and the workflows that drive them. Organizations are no longer merely concentrating on data protection anymore; they’re protecting the environment that houses the data. So that in the event of an incident, whether it be data corruption, malware, or hardware failure, the ability is there to restore not just data, but the business as well.
- Organizations are increasingly moving to the public cloud though some business activities will remain in a hybrid environment for reasons of security, compliance, performance, or budget.
You Hear Software-Defined. We hear Agile
Software-defined as in software-defined network or software-defined infrastructure is a vague term. The term software-defined connotates that automation and orchestration are under a great deal of control and that the control factor isn’t monolithic but dynamic. What the industry needs to hear is the term agility or responsiveness.
Organizations have extraordinarily little control over the public cloud’s physical infrastructure. But they do have a lot of control over the logical infrastructure of the public cloud. Consumers of public cloud services must define automation, orchestration, and configuration instructions through metadata that must be protected. The same rule applies to on-premise systems—thoughts about restoration, availability, or business continuity of a server, storage, or networking device. The complexity isn’t the physical infrastructure. It’s how it is configured, deployed, and consumed, which leads to a drive to administer on-premise and in-cloud environments in the same way.
Data Resilience: A Partnership Between Business and IT
Organizations can’t have data resilience without a better partnership between business units and the IT department.
Building that partnership starts with establishing a repeatable, documented, iterative, and growing methodology. Create it from a whole cloth or borrow a process that you know works. An excellent example of a process to borrow from is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), founded on the idea that business and IT need a better communications model. However, ITIL isn’t the only game in town.
Outside of ITIL, the partnership between business and IT is often a natural, yet not obvious one because of hybrid and public cloud consumption trends. Business and IT must partner to stay relevant because the organization need to differentiate itself competitively and be more cost-effective by being more agile and nimble.
There are times when the CFO becomes a champion for data resilience because they are looking for ways for the organization to drive efficiencies, maintain compliance, and increase business agility. More often, both business and IT stakeholders need to come together. Only when these groups partner, can a fundamental rethinking about how business and IT collaborate begin. Part of any good business stewardship involves understanding costs and challenges. If a line of business needs something and they can help IT understand that need, then IT can come up with multiple ways to serve that need. IT is suddenly not a cost burden, but rather a partner in the business. And from the business’s point of view, communication with IT becomes a bi-directional necessity.
Data Resilience is a Journey
Achieving data resilience isn’t a one-and-done activity. Instead, it’s a journey about how organizations align with digital and business transformation initiatives. It’s not just about products either, regardless of how good those products are. Data resilience as a part of business resilience, involves changing human processes as well. Enhancing human processes doesn’t require the initial cash outlay of rolling out a new security or backup solution, although there may very well be a dollar value in labor costs. Embarking on human process improvements is a step to feeding the communications model you want for your business and IT teams to be more engaged and collaborative around data resilience, business resilience, and business continuity.
Data Resilience is Data Protection “PLUS”
Data resilience was traditionally thought of as “how we do backups,” but this has changed. Data backups are only one facet of data resilience. In an age of failover and “always on” business, data resilience is now also about the ability to protect against data corruption, malware/ransomware, and bad actors. The result is the need for a rethinking of how data is protected.
One part of a strategy to improve data resilience is to create “snapshots” of data and then replicating those snapshots. This approach can be used for instantaneous restores. They can also be used by development teams as instant copies of production data.
Evolving Solutions and Data Resilience
Evolving Solutions architects are evangelists for data resilience first. Our initial conversations about resilience and protection become conversations about business continuity and the ability to remain functional, even when incidents occur, and disaster recovery for how to return to business quickly and efficiently in the event of problem.
Data resilience is a response to the growing use of hybrid infrastructure and the increasing value of business data. It’s a more agile method for preserving enterprise data and workflows against all the threats to today’s organizations.