Business-as-usual has become so ubiquitous for any organisation today that it is no wonder so many take their functioning IT systems for granted. And like most things we take for granted, its true value only becomes apparent when it’s already too late.
For seven companies in Australia last year, that scenario became a reality when they were paralysed by “significant’ cloud outages that severely impacted their ability to perform.
While the numbers from Tech Research Asia (TRA) may seem small, they are just skimming the surface of a potentially major issue for businesses in Australia.
According to TRA, 70 per cent of companies cannot keep up to date on security and their data compliance, while a fifth were not even aware of what data was lost when breached.
Now, these are numbers that should be cause for concern, but they are far from surprising given the sheer complexity of a modern IT infrastructure. As the volume of data used and generated by Australian organisations grows exponentially, legacy back-up and disaster recovery solutions are no longer able to cope. TRA estimates that companies will see a 158 per cent year-on-year increase in the amount of data they create in 2020.
Not only does this pose a problem from a management perspective, but in Australia now, backing up this data while remaining compliant with ever-tightening data protection regulations is becoming a headache for both customers and their partners.
In the words of TRA analyst Tim Dillon, businesses are “relatively diligent” about testing their back-up and DR strategies, partners soon may find it a challenge to convince some that their solutions may only be “adequate for today as tomorrow is a different proposition”.
“While you don’t see back-up and disaster recovery on many ‘top 10’ tech priorities lists, the reality is that other major initiatives such as cloud migration, applications migration and integration, digital transformation essentially demand a robust back-up and DR strategies.”
Speaking as part of ARN Exchange Back-up and DR, Dillon added: “I would suggest that the issue isn’t companies not having strategies in place but rather making sure those strategies evolve in sync with the business technology environment and regulations.”
Cloud migration strategies are mostly driving this complexity in Australia, where the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of cloud storage expected to hit 32 per cent by 2023. But the majority of organisations are not necessarily ‘cloud-first’. In fact, the majority operate a mishmash of multi or hybrid cloud environments spanning legacy on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and public clouds using external data centres.
This mass data fragmentation has now made it almost impossible for partners to “create a single source of truth” for their customers, said Dillon. Combining this with ever-tightening compliance regulations -- the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) mandatory data breach reporting for example -- and partners have a minefield to wade through to protect their customers’ data today.
But without challenges, there are no opportunities, and in back-up and DR, partners have many to capitalise on, explained Dillon. This comes down to understanding what customers need: visibility, flexibility, management and control of their environments, something that can only be achieved by unpacking these fragmented data repositories.
“One [way] is to attempt to create this “single source of truth”, he said. “You can do that either by creating one massive single repository. That’s expensive, difficult and arguably not sustainable for most organisations. Or you need to orchestrate and automate across multiple data sets in multiple locations.”
According to TRA data, demand for cloud back-up and DR solutions outstrip those of on-premises, although opportunity remains in both, Dillon added. The partners in the best position to succeed in this landscape though are those who can help solve the issues surrounding workload recovery in multi-cloud environments.
"[This] can be complex and many organisations can lack the deep technical expertise to handle this in house,” he said.
“Businesses can struggle with the lack of standards across multi-cloud environments (and are certainly surprised by the cost of data egress and the amount of time involved to move data between different clouds) – addressing this issue is a huge plus.”
At the crux of any partner, back-up and DR strategy must be helping customers understand the reality of security in a multi-cloud versus on-premise environment.
“Cloud security works differently to on-prem. It’s a simple statement but in practice, very hard for organisations manage on their own unless they have strong cloud knowledge,” Dillon added.