By Paolo Del Nibletto 

Most channel partners are happy to put the 2020 year in the rearview mirror and concentrate on new money-making, customer-satisfying strategies for a post-pandemic world. As this group starts to claw their way back to what business was like before the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns are still bringing serious challenges to channel partners in North America especially when it comes to data protection.

If there is one thing business has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the many stay-at-home orders from governments is that it has put a major strain on business continuity. It has also made the IT department reach new levels of anxiety as so many of its workers are now remote.

As the business world settled into this new mix of remote and workplace operations in 2020 and 2021, they began to put serious thought to modernizing its data protection plans. There are five main reasons for this, according to Veeam 2021 Data Protection Report, are: 

  • Economic uncertainty. 

  • The acceleration of cloud. 

  • Modernization of IT environments. 

  • Loss of data/failed backups; and 

  • Rampant ransomware. 

These five factors have led to many channel partners seeking new ways to modernize data protection in a post-pandemic world. 

Dave Russell, vice president of Enterprise Strategy at Veeam, (the co-author of the report along with Jason Buffington, Veeam’s vice-president, Solutions & Product Strategy) pinpointed ransomware along with overall cybersecurity as top priorities for CIOs in a post-pandemic world. 

“CIOs are looking for features and solutions that can overcome ransomware. At the end of the day, we are not a security company, we have hired a CSO, but it is fair to say the everyone in the data centre and everyone in the company has a role to play in security, but if you think about the greatest security vulnerability it is with the employees and fishing attacks,” Russell said. 

A modern data protection approach, Russell suggests, must have best practices around digital hygiene. 

Digital hygiene, Russell adds, is not specific to Veeam but can include items such as creating different passwords and separation of key resources and data on different networks so not everything can be compromised or access at the same place.  

“Cybersecurity would still be a concern even without the pandemic. IT is still scared about cybersecurity because they do not know what the threats look like and how they evolve and change. In a post-pandemic world cybersecurity jumps to the top,” he said. 

BONUS REASON 

If there is another reason beyond the five mentioned for developing a modern data protection strategy in a post-pandemic world, Russell believes it is digital transformation. COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on digital transformation. According to the Veeam 2021 Data Protection Report, there was a massive increase in digital transformation speed in 2020, with 54 percent of organizations accelerating their digital transformation plans. Meanwhile, organizations already into their digital transformation journey ramped up their investments in this area. For example, 91 percent of organizations in the first few months of the pandemic increased cloud services usage in support of the many remote workers that were now in their midst. 

Russell commented about an intersection of digital transformation that occurred in 2020, where some put their heads in the sand and took a pause because of COVID-19, while others saw it as perfect timing to “double down” on digital transformation.  

Modern data protection does have a major role to play in digital transformation as it improves the overall data connection, accuracy, capture and protection. “And it surfaces up data to the cloud for sharing. We know that digital transformation will be backed on data and so it has to be protected.” 

DRIVING THE RIGHT OUTCOMES 

The ultimate outcome for business is to ensure peace of mind. Russell speaks to building confidence in an organization to deliver data at any time, any place and on any device. Currently, the spend on backup and data recovery versus cloud and SaaS solutions has a seven times gap. But the heightened state of ransomware in the wild has now made modern data protection a board-level discussion. From Russell’s experience, approximately five percent of data has been recovered. “The situation could become worse,” he said, “if they never had to recover their systems.” The issue stems from the IT team knowing there is a problem, but the business side not being up-to-speed. “There’s an old joke. What is your DR plan? It’s an updated resume,” Russell added. 

HOW DO YOU GET THERE? 

Russell envisions organizations making high probability type bets, as stated earlier in this article, ultimately prioritizing defending against ransomware. “That’s the big disaster other than a hurricane.” 

One area is data protection-as-a-service or DPaaS for managed services providers in the channel community. Another is Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service or DRaaS. Both offer the ability to reduce IT costs while providing always updated solutions and peace of mind knowing that disasters can be averted.  

A best practices approach can certainly work in this area especially for enterprise backup for physical and virtual servers. One thing to look for is a solution that is purpose-built with an onsite backup appliance and secure replication to the cloud. By implementing this type of as-a-service solution organizations will get the benefit of leading-edge technology, data deduplication, encryption, cloud storage and multiple retention capabilities.