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What data backup technologies may look like in 2028

The data backup and recovery technologies of the future will have not only a cloud focus, but a multi-cloud focus. Compliance will also be a key element.

For decades, data backup technologies were more or less static. Backup applications copied files to tape according to a predetermined schedule, and there really wasn't much more to it.

However, recent years have seen something of a backup and disaster recovery renaissance. New data backup technologies, such as continuous data protection, instant recovery and data reduction, have completely changed the ways we protect our data from loss. So, what will backup and disaster recovery look like 10 years from now? Will we be able to simply say, "Alexa, back up my stuff," or will backup planning remain the complex process it is today?

For the sake of perspective, consider how different technology was 10 years ago. Back then, the OS of choice was the newly released Windows Server 2008. This operating system was built on the Windows Vista code base, and it introduced elements we take for granted today, such as Server Core, Active Directory roles, failover clustering, Hyper-V and even Server Manager.

Tech has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and the rate of change shows no sign of slowing down. Hence, the backup space may be barely recognizable 10 years from now.

SaaS at the head of the class

Data backup technologies of the future are going to have to be highly modular.

Data backup technologies of the future are going to have to be highly modular. The days of an organization storing all of its data on on-premises servers is over. While I do believe on-premises resources will still be in use in 10 years, I also think multi-cloud will be the norm. As such, any viable backup platform is going to have to be modular so it is able to work across a variety of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds -- such as AWS and Azure -- and also support all of the most common software-as-a-service (SaaS) clouds.

This brings up an important point. Most major software vendors offer a SaaS licensing model. Traditionally, SaaS vendors have allowed subscribers to store their application data in the SaaS cloud. For example, Office 365 subscribers store email in the Office 365 cloud. The problem is most of the SaaS vendors have thus far done a bad job of giving subscribers a way to independently protect their data. As time goes on, two trends will begin to emerge.

One trend in data backup technologies is major SaaS vendors will begin to create APIs that vendors can use to build products for protecting the tenant data.

The other trend I expect to see -- and this is the more likely of the two -- is SaaS vendors are going to begin shifting tenant data storage to IaaS providers. A subscriber might, for instance, use a particular SaaS application, but store the data that's associated with the application on AWS Simple Storage Service or another popular cloud storage platform. This would not only make it easier for subscribers to protect their own data, it would also reduce the SaaS vendor's cost, because it would no longer have to provide storage for tenant data.

A slice of GDPR and BC/DR

I also predict regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation are going to force backup vendors to take a compliance-first approach to developing data backup technologies. If that prediction ends up being true, then we can expect to see backup vendors developing stronger audit logging, e-discovery and data lifecycle management platforms, as well as supergranular role-based access control engines.

In 2028, I don't think we will be talking about backup and disaster recovery. Although backup and disaster recovery are currently separate technologies, a convergence between the two has already begun. In 2028, every backup product will be, first and foremost, a disaster recovery and business continuity platform. Traditional restorations are likely to devolve into little more than data version controls. Look for backup and disaster recovery platforms to place most of their emphasis on providing continuity of business through multilayer redundancy across numerous availability zones.

This was last published in March 2018

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