According to several recent studies, about 30% to 40% of an organization’s data is stored uniquely on endpoints (laptops and devices). This unique data is not stored or backed up anywhere in the data center, and is outside of the organization’s control. If one of these laptops fails or is stolen, the organization will lose that data forever. Compounding this problem, endpoints are also the most vulnerable; they endure harsh treatment and are very susceptible to loss or theft. Despite the very real potential for loss of organizational data, most organizations don’t include endpoints in their data protection strategy.
The classic endpoint “protection” strategy was to tell users to copy data to the enterprise’s network attached (NAS) storage or file server storage. Not only is the “just copy” a bad data management practice it is also very rarely actually done and doesn’t address the remote office, road warrior, or tablet use cases. Endpoint protection of laptops along with desktops needs to be an integral part of the general data protection strategy. The problem is that endpoint protection solutions provided by legacy vendors have been so bad that the “just copy” methodology was actually more reliable.
The lack of a reliable endpoint data protection solution has forced organizations to look for external solutions from startups or endpoint products designed for the consumer market.
The Endpoint Data Problem
The first problem with endpoint data protection is its mobility. Endpoints, by definition, are on the move. They are rarely, and in many cases never, connected to the corporate network. Endpoint data protection solutions also need to be able to keep endpoints protected across very limited bandwidth.
Additionally, endpoints are largely out of IT control. The lack of IT control means that any solution installed on those laptops requires user acceptance. If the solution slows them down, or worse keeps them from working, they will go out of their way to disable it. It’s difficult to stop a user one thousand miles away from disabling the backup software.
Lastly, there is the concern about scale. Enterprises may have thousands of endpoints, and each user may have 2 or 3 endpoints each. The software solution needs to not only scale to handle the number of simultaneous inbound backup jobs, but also the capacity required to store the protected copy of all of those systems.
The Endpoint Backup Silo Problem
All these challenges and the lack of a quality solution from enterprise vendors have created a second class of solutions targeted directly at endpoint backup. Like other environment-specific protection solutions, an endpoint-only solution may have the advantage of focusing on the specific problem, but at the cost of further complexity – since you’ve now added yet another tool – and expense. Endpoint data protection solutions in particular are problematic since they often force organizations to use the cloud for backup storage and don’t provide options as to which cloud provider can be used.
The Enterprise Endpoint Solution
The real answer is to look for a solution that integrates directly into the overall enterprise data protection process in order to centralize the management and storage of data and goes beyond the ‘just copy’ method. Leveraging an enterprise solution should also allow the customer to choose whether or not to send data to the cloud, as well as which cloud, instead of forcing their hand. The key is to look for an endpoint protection solution that meets the organization’s and user’s needs while integrating into the overall protection umbrella. While many enterprise data protection companies have given up on endpoint protection, a few have advanced their initial offerings and now provide solutions that are both user friendly and enterprise capable.