Solving data management challenges in the era of BYOD and IoT


9 March 2015
Mark Bentkower of CommVault

The forces driving data growth are everywhere: greater workforce mobility, massive adoption of smartphones and tablets, the Internet of Things (IoT), and widespread use of social media and cloud computing. These factors are complicating data management approaches, making it even more challenging for IT to keep up with business demands, and the growing pressure for regulatory compliance. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is expected to escalate in 2015, while IoT adoption in Asia Pacific is projected to grow to US$57.96 billion by 2020, adding to spiraling IT complexity and never-ending demand for storage capacity. This in turn also forces up costs, putting IT in rough terrain when it comes to budgeting and management.

In this climate of unprecedented data growth, conventional approaches to backup and recovery are failing. Looking at 2015 and beyond, the main challenge for IT organisations lies in the collection, aggregation and analysis of different sources of data. Here are the top strategic ways to solve the organisations’ data management challenges.

1) Manage redundant data

IT administrators often struggle with having little to no insight on the content and type of data that is being created; limited control over how it is being stored; and almost no understanding of its business value. When it comes to information lifecycle governance, more often than not, organisations choose to lean on “cold storage” tape vaults to keep every scrap of data due to a paralysing fear that something of value may be deleted.

Studies by the Compliance, Governance and Oversight Counsel (2013) suggest that 69 per cent of a company’s stored data has absolutely no value to the organisation. In essence, this means that organisations could be spending up to 20 per cent of their annual budget on storing data that has gone stale, with virtually no ROI. We can only expect this number to increase with the current massive data growth generated by BYOD and IoT trends.

Modern data protection strategies should be global in nature, instead of operating in silos. Stale data should be identified and moved to the proper tier of storage taking into account recovery time objectives and cost per GB to store it. This should in turn, reduce the size of backup windows. Redundant data should be eliminated at the source, without transmitting it over the network. By using software-based, source-side deduplication, organisations can reduce network traffic from backups and maximise efficiency, while still ensuring security and recoverability.

2) Ensure that data can be restored easily and quickly

Due to the growing complexity of IoT applications, the consumerisation of IT, and multi-service environments such as smart cities, there is a growing need to manage a multitude of new devices, such as sensors, switches, smartphones and tablets, which are all connected via a variety of short-range wireless and fixed line technologies. In this new era, traditional streaming backup models are no longer efficient as they simply cannot back up data fast enough, nor can they restore it fast enough.

For instance, a majority of enterprises, especially those with a massive legacy footprint within their IT infrastructure, still count tape as a key part of their storage platform. While this technology was a viable solution in the past, now, tape is found lacking in a fundamental requirement of data protection – rapid restore. When organisations have to deal with large amounts of data to store and backup for archiving and disaster recovery (DR) purposes, the limitations of tape are hard to ignore.

On the other hand, the array snapshot is a useful tool for rapid restore. Snapshots enable organisations to capture and recover point-in-time data with the speed and efficiency. Its benefits are clear – by linking hardware array-based snapshot technology to data classification and backup processes, data protection and recovery become faster. Yet, native array snapshot tools vary in their functionality and complexity, and don’t take into account the applications moving data on the platters. Therefore, organisations should consider snapshot technology that combines deep application awareness and broad hardware compatibility in a single console to help recover applications faster, maximize the hardware investments and eliminate the backup window.

3) Virtualise fearlessly

With the rise of BYOD and IoT, cloud use is becoming more pervasive in organisations across all industries; an increasing number of organisations are shifting their workloads to compute and storage clouds to take advantage of greater productivity, simplicity, elasticity and cost savings. In Asia Pacific, spending on public IT cloud services are expected to grow almost five-fold, reaching US$19.5 billion by 2016.

Virtualisation is a game changer for those organisations adopting cloud as a platform or as a storage environment. Virtualisation benefits are compelling, be it from cost savings, business flexibility or the agility inherent in emergent private and public cloud architectures. Yet, according to a global study, nearly nine out of 10 IT managers believe virtual machine (VM) management is risky without proper planning. And their concern has merit; the ease in deploying new VMs can lead to a virtual machine sprawl, making it time-consuming for administrators to keep track of new VMs and ensure data protection and retention policies are applied to each of them.

To take full advantage of virtualisation, an organisation’s data protection strategies need to help it increase the scale and resiliency of its VMs, while minimising manual processes.

4) Get insightful

Without access to actionable information, organizations are less likely to have all the insight they need to make informed decisions about their data and information management processes. They should ensure their data protection solution offers comprehensive reporting and analytics – built-in – so that they can better understand the utilisation, success rates, and data profile to plan and achieve operational excellence.

Rather than investing in multiple solutions, organizations should look for solutions that can deliver backup, snapshot, hypervisor control and archive together. Converging processes for backup, archiving and reporting into a single data collection point and common infrastructure can effectively solve massive file and email growth problems. Only then will businesses be able to tackle the associated challenges of protecting, managing and accessing their data to deliver business value.

  • Mark Bentkower is director of Systems Engineering, ASEAN, CommVault Systems.