Moving From Big Data To Small Data Sprawl This World Backup Day, And How To Protect It

By   Stephen Manley
Chief Technologist , Druva | Apr 03, 2020 04:10 am PST

World Backup Day is an annual reminder for both individuals and businesses to back up important data, but also to test recoveries. It is also a good time to assess your backup strategy because data management is at an inflection point. With IoT, an increasingly remote workforce, and SaaS applications, data center-based protection is just no longer sufficient. As we observe World Backup Day and prepare for a year of “firsts”, let’s use this time to adopt a fresh mindset to keep up with the rapidly evolving data landscape. Doing so will allow companies to more successfully tackle future challenges.

So, what do we need to know? Well, whilst businesses have become accustomed to “Big Data” and the strategies surrounding its backup and storage, they remain unprepared for a new challenge on the horizon – small data sprawl. While “Big Data” can be defined by its centralised storage in a data centre, tackling small data sprawl requires a new architecture, because of its different nature. With the recent innovations in edge computing and IoT devices, data has become more spread out, being collected in real-time through many smart devices. In other words, small data sprawl spreads company’s data across multiple devices and platforms, which both allows it to carry out many processes in the individual devices, but also causes risks due to its decentralised nature. Knowing that these technologies are set to become even more widespread, businesses are set to be at risk of losing their data due to insufficient backup as well as by growing cyberthreats.

Consequently, businesses need to know how to evolve their processes to support the challenge of small data sprawl.

Cloud and SaaS – The future

While data protection architectures must evolve to support small data sprawl, new business applications, and expanding regulations, not all businesses are confident in how to do this.

The first step is to adopt a cloud-centric protection solution. Since modern applications depend on cloud components and cloud storage, only a cloud-centric backup solution will be able to protect the entire application. Nothing else has the connectivity to all the data sources and the flexibility to store the application metadata. Additionally, cloud providers operate in multiple regions, which can simplify meeting regional compliance regulations. Finally, the flexibility of cloud enables organisations to, on-demand, run operations like: flagging personal identification information (PII) as it’s backed up, recreating environments from a point in time for AI reproduction or disaster recovery, and identifying strange patterns cropping up in the backup data to detect cyber-attacks.

The second step is to adopt SaaS tools to improve data protection. As backup teams focus on adding business value, managing backup infrastructure is not an effective use of time or energy. SaaS providers can also bring centralised expertise around: cloud, compliance and regulations.

In addition to using the cloud as centralised storage, it is quite likely that businesses will start considering using a wide range of SaaS tools in identifying and classifying key data. In turn, relying on SaaS solutions will allow companies to channel some of the know-how of SaaS experts, who can assist them in efficiently managing data, as well as ensuring its protection and security. Indeed, there is little doubt that privacy and security will remain crucial in backing up as small data sprawl grows, as companies will be at greater risk of cyber-attacks due to the vast amounts of customer data produced across multiple devices. 

Utilising SaaS tools will thus serve as a key function in creating a truly efficient backup management strategy, categorising data across the cloud and multiple devices. What makes SaaS data protection in the cloud particularly powerful is in its ability to automate a number of otherwise complex processes, freeing up the hands of companies in tackling greater issues.

Navigating data privacy regulations 

While the data landscape is quickly evolving, so are the regulations that protect consumer privacy. It is imperative that IT departments remain connected with the business and legal teams to better understand compliance regulations. At a minimum, ensure that the backup process does not violate regulations — e.g. backing up across borders or restoring data that should not be accessible. To add value, you can help them meet compliance requirements — flagging personal identification information (PII) as it is backed up, re-creating environments from a point-in-time for AI reproduction, or identifying anomalous patterns in the backup data. In the next decade, data protection will be as much about security, compliance and privacy as it is about backup and recovery.

Embracing the new data landscape

There is little doubt that the onset of small data sprawl has forced companies to completely reconsider their data backup strategies and overall management. Fortunately, using cloud-native solutions and SaaS tools will not only allow businesses to tackle these challenges head-on, but it will also help them to continually innovate and evolve. In this sense, World Backup Day should not only serve as a reminder of the challenges facing our backup strategies, but also the many opportunities in improving them using forward-thinking solutions and state-of-the-art toolsets while complying with the latest data privacy regulations. 


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