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Data protection technologies: Experts offer predictions

Predictions for data protection in 2016 include the resurgence of tape, rise of copy data management, special optimized options and software-defined storage for backup data.

Data protection technologies are more mature than emerging storage trends, such as flash, software-defined storage and hyper-convergence, and are less likely to change significantly in 2016.

But industry experts are forecasting a smattering of trends and changes in data protection technologies -- including backup, disaster recovery (DR) and archiving -- as IT organizations continue to cope with the explosive growth of data.

And not only is tape not dead yet as a data protection technology, it could even become hip again, according to Chuck Hollis, senior vice president of converged infrastructure at Oracle.

Below is a sampling of predictions on data protection technologies.

Data protection technologies: Backup

Vish Mulchand, senior director of storage product management and marketing at Hewlett Packard EnterpriseVish Mulchand

Vish Mulchand, senior director of storage product management and marketing at Hewlett Packard Enterprise: Traditional backup will fade, but converged protection and copy management will rise. We've seen a broad trend in the industry of storage moving closer to applications. And in 2016, we'll see data protection continue to make this shift, as it becomes a feature of primary storage systems, rather than a process that is administered by specialized administrators.

Also, the industry will continue to move away from traditional [independent software vendor]-based backup in favor of service-level agreement-driven solutions that allow application owners to control their own destiny. This will also pave the way for more intelligent copy data management, for example, by taking into account needs such as DR, analytics, test [and] dev, and long-term retention in a more comprehensive manner.

The 'how' and 'who' of data protection will continue to diversify in 2016.
Jason Buffingtonprincipal analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

Jason Buffington, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc.: The 'how' and 'who' of data protection will continue to diversify in 2016. This is largely due to the growing influence of the platform owners -- DBAs, vAdmins, file [and] storage admins -- who rightfully need to ensure that their platforms are more adequately protected and thus more reliably recoverable. This trend is accelerated by vendors offering unique and compelling solutions or enablement scenarios that are optimized for Oracle RMAN, virtual machine rapid recovery and direct-from-primary-to-secondary storage protection, respectively.

Jason Buffington, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy GroupJason Buffington

With software as a service platforms gaining prominence as disparate fourth platforms that require specialized protection mechanisms, the trend will only continue. This does not mean the end of unified data protection, but it does require a shift in management and coordination initiatives -- both in the technologies and in the collaboration of IT professionals across departmental boundaries.

Hollis: In 2016, real-time recovery for databases with near-zero [recovery point objectives] will become a CIO imperative. With the false sense of security provided by snapshots and purpose-built backup appliances, and no time for traditional backups, businesses and their database admins will re-evaluate data protection strategies and realize that the surest way to protect against data loss is to limit exposure.

Newer options for data protection technologies

Doug Hazelman, VP of product strategy at Veeam SoftwareDoug Hazelman

Doug Hazelman, vice president of product strategy at Veeam Software: software-defined storage will find uses not only for primary data, but for backup data as well. Leveraging the cloud for long-term storage will also become mainstream, with availability vendors offering new, unique offerings.

Disaster recovery as a service is a game-changer in 2016 that'll enable businesses to meet and exceed customer and employee expectations around availability. As businesses place IT and availability at the center, we'll see service-level agreements with guaranteed backup and recovery times become standard.

Paula Long, CEO at DataGravity: Next year, inclusive data deletion will become a mandate to ensure data security. Today's storage plays much like the movie Groundhog Day. Environments are analyzed and repaired, removing viruses, exposure of sensitive data and dormant data. Then, on the first restore from a backup or snapshot, all of this work is wiped out and the effort must begin again. Storage will get smart about looking at the data it manages, ensuring that the management is holistic across all instances of the data.

'Tape becomes cool again'

Hollis: Surprise, tape becomes cool again. Disk has clearly supplanted tape as the medium of choice for rapid data backup and recovery, but this story isn't over yet. Consider vast, cost-reduced data archives. Yes, we're all creating zettabytes of information, but not all of it needs to be immediately accessible. Tape is now enjoying a quiet renaissance in situations where long-term preservation and cost efficiency at scale really matter, like it does for many of the popular cloud providers. In 2016, expect modern tape technology to start supplanting disk for cloud-scale archival data repositories.

Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates and senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Magnetic tape is increasing in capacity with the introduction of the LTO-7 products from the remaining tape vendors. Tape continues to be used for archiving of content, since tape uses very little power when the data isn't being accessed, and raw tape storage costs are now less than 1 cent per gigabyte -- much less than hard disk drives. Tape technologies are also extending the LTFS file system that is common on modern tapes to support object storage systems.

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