The Changing Role of Data Protection in the Modern Data Center

For decades, data centers have tried to use the data protection process to not only provide the organization with rapid recovery capabilities but also long-term data retention. Many organizations go so far as to use the backup process as an ad-hoc archiving and data management solution. In the past, organizations may have been able to get by with this approach but the need for even faster recoveries, and longer, more organized data retention means backup can no longer meet these demands in many cases.

Backup is All About Rapid Recovery

While capturing a valid copy of data on a regular basis is just as much of a requirement today as it has ever been, the focus for most organizations is a rapid recovery. Given the growth in data and number of applications, just maintaining current service levels is challenging enough. But users and application owners now expect recovery times of less than a few hours.

IT planners need to design a backup architecture that responds to the new realities of the increased number of applications, increased size of data sets and narrower recovery time expectations. Data protection software is improving and features like block-level incremental backup and boot from backup recoveries enable organizations to better meet these new demands. Organizations also need to invest in better recovery hardware can speed the recovery effort and even host application data stores when necessary.

Meeting these expectations is possible, but IT planners also need to meet budget realities. Instead of investing in infinite amounts of protection storage capacity that is increasingly focused on performance, IT needs to limit its growth. Considering that most recoveries are from the most recent backup, IT should be able to reduce data protection storage requirements by 90% or more. The key is to make sure protection storage only stores the most recent copies of data and is not used for retention purposes. The reduction should enable organizations to invest in higher performing hardware suitable for rapid recoveries and to act as stand-by storage in the event of a failure.

Unstructured Data

Most of the data contained in data protection storage is multiple copies of unstructured data (file data) that hasn’t changed in years. Unstructured data is also the fastest growing segment of data and often consumes over 80% of all storage capacity. Limiting the retention time on backups excludes much of this data from backup storage which reduces the time required to protect production data stores and further reduces data protection storage.

Solving for GDPR

Not using backup for retention also alleviates another challenge facing organizations: data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) established by the European Union (EU) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). In both regulations, and certainly to be seen in more future regulations, the organization is required to remove a user’s data at the user’s request. Often known as the right to be forgotten, these requests promise to play havoc with traditional backup solutions. Backup solutions are typically job based, and a sub-set of data—like a user’s specific data—can’t be removed from within a job. The entire job must be destroyed which could violate other retention or compliance requirements.

Data Management to Offload Data Protection

Focusing data protection on only storing the most recent copies of data and building its infrastructure for rapid recovery requires the organization to invest in a data management solution. However, legacy data management solutions often have a large up-front cost both in terms of software and especially hardware. A cloud–based data management solution offers an easier transition for organizations. They can slowly adjust to moving older data out of their backups and incrementally expand cloud storage.

A data protection solution combined with a cloud data management solution enables the backup process to focus on the 10% of the data needed in a rapid recovery situation. A cloud data management solution enables the organization to meet data privacy regulations, curtail the impact of rapid unstructured data growth and even provide recovery from ransomware and other cyber attacks.

In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at how a cloud-based data management solution can help with GDPR and CCPA, while providing data repurposing, mining and monetization, as well as dramatically reducing the cost of production and secondary storage. In the meantime, sign up for our live webinar, “Complete Your Cloud Transformation – Store Your Data in The Cloud” which will look at the changing role of data protection and why most traditional data protection tasks should now be handled by a data management solution.

Register now for the live event on Wednesday, March 27th at 1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT and get our latest eBook, “Understanding the Difference Between Data Protection and Data Management”.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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