There hasn't been a conversation in the past 3 weeks in which a particular non-cyber (for once) virus hasn't been discussed. Many of our clients are asking us what we believe will change from a product/service/solution strategy in the space of backup and recovery. I don't have a crystal ball but based on recent research, and as the year progresses, I expect that we will be able to better understand what might be significant changes in how organizations approach IT and the topic of backup and recovery, including disaster recovery.
In the meantime, I would like to share what I expect will happen based on past trends, pre-Covid-19, and my broad perspective on the market. I will not name specific vendors--this is not about who's better than the other at this or that...Look at this at a high level revisited checklist of what to look for in a solution.
Before we start: I believe a lot of the changes that we will see were already in motion; what we will likely see is an acceleration of underlying trends or needs.
What will not change
Good data stewardship is not going away - probably ever - and this means that all the best practices for defining service levels (RPO/RTO) still apply. How you get there is likely to change, but business and IT fundamentals in this case remain the same. Data is an asset that must be protected, business must continue in the face of planned and unplanned interruptions, and compliance requirements must be met. Data growth is not slowing down, meaning that organizations will need to keep planning accordingly, and archive a growing volume of data.
This means that organizations will still need to look for solutions that meet all their SLA requirements and can accompany their data growth, or perform at scale, or fit in the environment with the proper set of integrations (hardware and hypervisor integration, for example).
What will change - or is changing already - Part 1 of many...
Management capabilities: It's the pretty obvious one with staff now working remotely from home or having limited options to be in an office or data center. The winners of this phase will be solutions (whether on-prem, hybrid, or in the cloud) that reliably deliver advanced remote and secure management and deployment capabilities. For example, adding endpoint backup and recovery, or protecting new VMs created for the specific circumstances brought about by this crisis. Usability will be key against a backdrop of skills shortages (which began long before Covid-19) in data protection and adjacent IT areas (including cybersecurity). Further abilities are listed below. In addition, organizations that have coherent, broad, and deep reporting and alerting capabilities will be in great shape. However, I suspect this is a hurdle in many organizations.
DR Testing, and testing in general: It's a best practice everyone should be an expert at, and most solutions today offer many possibilities to conduct non-disruptive (to production) testing, often supplemented by AI/ML and automation in general. Our research shows that the more people practice recovery the more satisfied they are with their solution. Great news for vendors who have put forward testing education programs. Based on our experience and validation of many solutions in the market, I would say there is no question that great solutions exist and can be leveraged. Not every solution is born equal, but overall they're pretty good. So if the technology is available and in place, the real question revolves around practice and skill sets. It's a combination of process and people. In a pandemic you may not have the experts available to do it. It is therefore key that more IT generalists be trained (which ties back to the usability requirement mentioned above). This positions certain cloud-based solutions/services in a pretty good spot.
I will stop for now, but stay tuned as I continue in my next blog....