Adapting to change in a virtual world

Allen Mitchell, senior technical account manager, MENA at CommVault Systems talks about data management and the importance for business to adapt to change

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Adapting to change in a virtual world
By  Allen Mitchell Published  March 2, 2015

It should come as no surprise that the biggest technological impacts on IT departments in 2014 were mobile and big data. Both issues also dominated conversations in the storage arena last year and with employees now increasingly working remotely, it’s highly likely that 2015 will see more and more organisations struggling to manage large volumes of data.

With approximately one third of the global workforce predicted to be mobile in 2015, according to IDC’s, Worldwide Mobile Worker Population, 2011-2015, it’s clear that the bring your own device (BYOD) movement has created massive market demand for end users to be able to quickly access data from any device and to benefit from collaboration and knowledge sharing regardless of their location.

That said, it also appears that too few organisations have either devised or implemented comprehensive strategies to support these mobile workers, or are yet to put in place measures to ensure regular backups from mobile devices as a minimum.

Protecting access to sensitive data and providing an alternative to storing company data on local or removable devices is critical and needs to be addressed without hesitation.

There is a lot of reliance on cloud services like Box and Dropbox to gather and share information across an organisation which itself presents a number of IT headaches for companies.

So while the emphasis may have been on creating modern data management strategies, the priority has to be the synchronisation of files and preparation for automated retention methods to reduce the risk of data loss.

The biggest single benefit of automated and continuous file and folder synchronisation is that it makes data fluid, not siloed. It supports different environments and operating systems and provides guaranteed access to either old documents indefinitely or to the most recent files instantly, regardless of the device on which they were created.

It’s also important to note at this time however that enterprises are becoming more and more comfortable with the security and scale of public cloud resources from big providers.

Rather than burden their networks, they are instead opting to use this solution when using a heavy application like SharePoint, Oracle or SAP. This potentially means that we are likely to see private cloud growth coming from industries like finance and healthcare where there are significant compliance or security issues.

Organisations are beginning to investigate the benefits of integrating their data management solutions with cloud platforms, enabling them to seamlessly move data from an on-premises data centre to ‘infrastructure-as-a-service’ from leading cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). The challenge is to harness automated, content-indexed data collection, protection, access and retrieval from a central console with low cost-cloud storage for data archiving.

Whilst it may be true to say that this approach is best suited to long-term archiving where data is not expected to be restored frequently, and where it can be stored in de-duplicated form to minimise long term capacity growth, integrating data management with cloud platforms does provide organisations with a much need degree of certainty about their ability to carry out complex eDiscovery requirements.

That said, given the application-centric nature of IT, it’s also likely that we will start to see organisations trying to balance the benefits of virtualisation with the costs associated with virtual machine (VM) sprawl. The promise of reduced running costs and network infrastructure, application flexibility and scalability will undoubtedly continue to encourage organisations to deploy more critical applications within a virtual machine context.

Enterprises clearly need to re-think traditional data protection techniques. Firms need to be able to move unused VMs to cost-effective storage, with the ability to instantly recover them for increased utilisation. If organisations don’t tackle these issues, they risk paying more and more in the long term to store data that is never going to be used again, as well as struggling to regain control of the sprawl - placing an even greater burden on the already stretched network.

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