How to Design a Modern Architecture for Data Management and Data Protection

Today’s organizations look at data differently: It’s seen as an asset that can be mined to improve product creation and delivery as well as improve customer satisfaction. External forces also see data differently: Governments and customers expect organizations to maintain and safeguard the data that the organization stores. These high expectations have led to a rise in data protection and data privacy laws like the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The change in the way data is valued and the increase in data-related regulations requires organizations to modernize their data protection and data management processes. The old ways of doing things may no longer be good enough.

Explaining Data Management, Data Protection and Archive

Data management is the protection, retention and understanding of data. The process then leverages the insight gained from that understanding to manage the organization’s data based on policies created by IT. Data management helps an organization protect data, lower the costs to store both primary and protected copies, comply with mandates like GDPR and CCPA, and to mine data for the organization’s benefit.

Many data protection and archive vendors claim to be data management companies. While it is true that data protection and archive are components of a broader data management process, without insight and policy-driven management, those solutions are not data management.

Simplify Data Protection

Modernizing data management begins with focusing the scope of data protection (i.e., backup and recovery). Most organizations use data protection as a pseudo data retention solution (or pseudo archive) as well. The problem is that most backup solutions do not store backups in a format that is natively accessible to other applications. Instead, they store data in blobs associated with each backup job, which may contain intermixed data from dozens of different systems, all with potentially different retention schemes.

While new backup solutions offer a streamlined, more usable backup solution, they require you to replace your entire data protection infrastructure to realize these new benefits. Modern backup vendors claim to have data management capabilities. However, capabilities like retention controls and litigation holds now apply to backup jobs. These so called modern data protection solutions offer very basic search (i.e., searching file names only). In short, leaning on backups for data management is precarious in the face of new data privacy rules and legal discovery.

An alternative is to lower the backup retention time dramatically so that the incumbent or modern data protection infrastructure focuses on rapid recovery and near high availability. The data protection solution should then be complemented with an object-level data management solution that meets the needs of long-term retention, historical recoveries, legal discovery, data privacy investigations, and file-level governance. The key is to focus the backup solution on rapid recovery, while adding a new component to deliver the level of data management sophistication that today’s organization requires.

Robust Data Management

A robust data management strategy modernizes the organization’s approach to data. With the large and growing volumes of data, archiving is a crucial element for cost containment. However, there’s an important distinction in what the vendor community means when they say “archive.” Backup vendors typically define archive as moving backup sets to tape or cloud.

In a modern data management paradigm, archive is much more than tiering backup jobs for long-term retention. Cloud compute offers opportunities to achieve a more intelligent approach. Leveraging cloud compute enables organizations, at petabyte scale and with billions of objects, to maintain full awareness of their data. Data management can optimize information to an archive tier in the cloud, but also continue to deliver object-level data governance, identity awareness, and content searching. Archive in the hybrid-cloud era can also streamline your primary storage infrastructure on-premises, at the edge, and in the cloud while helping to contain costs in the data protection infrastructure.

Rethinking IT Infrastructure for Scale in the Cloud Era

Modernizing the organization’s data management strategy does not necessarily mean replacing its backup solution. If the backup solution can meet the rapid recovery time and recovery point objectives of the organization then it should be suitable for continued use. In fact, the data management strategy puts less pressure on the infrastructure since data is retained for a far shorter period of time.

The second step is to start leveraging a cloud data management platform that includes true object-level archiving. Some archive solutions have this capability built in: Essentially, it’s an “archive but do not remove from primary storage” feature. Others do not. One solution is to actually restore from the backup solution to the archive solution so that data is in a native format (important for item-level controls you’ll need for legal discovery and data privacy investigations). Simplifying the data protection infrastructure in this way means the organization can use the data management solution for recoveries outside of a five-day time period.

This design fits the typical restore demand. Urgent restores usually bring back the most recent copy or version of data in case of corruption, a process handled by the data protection solution. However, restores of data outside of a five-day window are often requests for specific information, potentially related to a lawsuit, product research or a right to be forgotten request. These requests are better handled by an object-level data management platform.

Summary

Modernizing the data protection and management infrastructure is not difficult, especially if the current backup solution can meet rapid recovery demands. Most organizations will need to add an archive solution, and a modern cloud data management platform will be new to them. However, cloud-era data management solutions are fast to adopt, and appeal to organizations since the software and storage can be purchased as a service, enabling the organization to gradually grow into its use.

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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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