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Tuesday, 02 February 2021 16:17

The Way We Work Has Changed in 2020, Has The Way You Manage Data?

By
Lucas Salter, General Manager ANZ and APJ, Data Protection Solutions, Dell Technologies Lucas Salter, General Manager ANZ and APJ, Data Protection Solutions, Dell Technologies

GUEST OPINION by Lucas Salter, General Manager ANZ and APJ, Data Protection Solutions, Dell Technologies: Keeping an organisation running remotely brings challenges. Some are well documented - insert your videoconferencing call horror story here - but one of the biggest and underappreciated, is managing protecting, and recovering data from traditional and modern applications across core data centres, edge locations and public clouds.

At the beginning of the pandemic, it was a matter of doing what you needed to switch into remote working mode. However, organisations can’t manage data in the same ad hoc way that they did during the rush into WFH.

The data needs storing, and it needs protection – something organisations are starting to recognise, with IDC reporting the rise of data protection appliances has led to it becoming a US$4 billion global market1.

Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index 3 findings support this, as the top barrier to Digital Transformation in 2020 cited as data privacy and security concerns (36%).

With the adoption of hybrid work and properly established work from home practices likely to continue, managing and protecting that data will be critical for organisations.

Re-thinking data protection

The explosion in data generated at the edge has been matched by an explosion in threats as criminals sought to capitalise on both “the new normal” and concerns about the virus. Google recently disclosed that it is blocking more than 100 million phishing emails a day, and cyberattacks on Australian governments and organisations have attracted national attention.

Data protection isn’t as simple as telling people to be more careful about the websites that they visit or reminding them to regularly change their password. Organisations have data and applications distributed across multiple locations such as datacentres, remote work sites and multiple hybrid cloud deployments.

Dell Technologies’ 2020 Global Data Protection Index Snapshot showed the ongoing importance of maintaining a thorough data protection approach, especially as the amount of data organisations need to manage grows. This growth compounded with the need to protect mission critical applications alongside new workloads, reinforcing our strategy of combining proven and modern data protection to address current and future needs.

Now more than ever, it’s clear the way that organisations protect their data requires re-thinking.

The Home Is the New Edge

While internet infrastructure has largely shown itself capable of handling the increased load brought about by WFH in residential areas, there’s a need for networks to be as responsive in the home as they are in a properly provisioned office space.

Without the same level of service, workers may find themselves putting important data handling behaviours to one side for the sake of convenience. If establishing a connection to an on-site server takes too long, people will just start saving more documents on their personal devices, essentially putting the whole procedure into the “too hard basket.” This is undeniably poor data protection best practice and leads to exposed data and “double handling” or duplication of data across multiple platforms, creating data bloat.

The scale of this problem shouldn’t be underestimated and there is a need to move away from securing the perimeter to our securing information. If even one person in an organisation is saving to their personal device, multiply that person by hundreds, or even thousands of companies. It’s a staggering amount of unsecured data.

Storing Edge Data

To securely manage the enormous amount of data being generated at the edge, organisations need to invest in infrastructure that is flexible, scalable, and manageable.

Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) decreases complexity, increases scalability and offers the ability to adopt the cloud that works for you. And moving workloads to the cloud lowers costs, delivers more control, and improves security.

As you look to storage technologies that can help solve this problem it’s critical to understand your business needs - both today and in the future.

Developing methods to retain governance of data will be another critical area requiring attention. Making sure that data is kept safe and is managed correctly while maintaining accessibility will help mitigate the problem of employees storing it locally and leaving organisations exposed. And the adoption of new infrastructure will also make sure that data is kept within reach of the people who need to use it.

Managing Unstructured Data at the Edge

Much of the data being generated at this new home-edge is unstructured. Collecting it all is one thing. Accessing it, understanding it and keeping it safe is another.

There remain significant challenges for organisations wanting to find what they need in this huge pool of unstructured data thanks to the volume, location and inherent un-structured nature of data.

Storing unstructured data has become easier thanks to the prevalence of all-flash, hybrid and archive NAS platforms that appeal to all budgets. Artificial Intelligence technologies are being used to explore and analyse unstructured data. Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Pattern Recognition algorithms and Speech-to-Text conversion all have a role to play in sorting through and understanding your data.

The importance of a data protection strategy

Protecting the endpoint has become an important element in securing data. Having a consistent and strategic data management and protection process in place is therefore vital to keeping business on track.

This new world in which we find ourselves will require companies to shore up their edge and core security and capabilities. As a result, data protection requires a thorough and systemic approach to protect organisations most valuable resource - data – in its most vulnerable place – the edge.

Your data protection strategy needs to be just that, a strategy. You can’t just react; you need to plan and proceed deliberately and with reason.

1IDC Market Spotlight, Purpose Built Backup Appliances 2019 Market Results

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