Backup 2017: Focus on ransomware protection, copy data management

Backup and recovery trends for 2017 will focus on improved ransomware protection, integrated copy data management and more mature DraaS offerings.

Experts say the data protection world in 2017 will bring more dangerous ransomware, integration of copy data management into backup tools, and more mature disaster recovery as a service (DraaS).

Here is a look at what you can expect over the coming year:

Ransomware becoming 'nastier'

Ransomware is malware that keeps customers' data hostage for an extortion fee. It is among the greatest security threats to businesses, and backup has been a key ransomware protection tool. But the viruses are adapting to traditional backup processes. More sophisticated ransomware viruses will require an even sharper focus on backup and security to keep data safe.

"In 2016, we started seeing ransomware attacks get nastier and nastier," said Eran Farajun, executive vice president of Asigra. "They are getting smarter. In 2015 and 2016, backup was seen as a tool to combat ransomware. In 2017, that [will be] no longer true. Traditional backup and recovery will not be as effective."

In 2016, we started seeing ransomware attacks get nastier and nastier.
Eran Farajun, executive vice president, Asigra

Don Foster, senior director of worldwide solutions marketing at Commvault, said the latest versions of ransomware malware have become sneakier. Recent ransomware attacks slowly infect files over time so that victims actually back up the virus along with their data. That makes it harder to go back and find a clean version of the data to ensure ransomware protection.

"Some now spend 90 days secretly infecting files," Foster said of ransomware viruses. "They move slowly through the system and wait to complete the attack. So the only way to properly defend yourself is not just backing up data but being smarter at backing up data and you need a smart retention policy in place."

Farajun said the latest ransomware attack vectors have algorithms that change the viruses' signatures every 18 seconds. He said the backup and recovery products have to evolve to address this and Asigra plans to enhance its offerings for ransomware protection.

Copy data management evolving into key piece of backup

Copy data management (CDM) has evolved over the last several years and now it is disrupting the traditional backup and recovery market. Copy data management vendors gained traction by delivering backup and recovery products that helped connect business processes to data protection needs.

CDM reduces proliferation of copies of data that causes overhead and security issues. CDM can accelerate application release cycles and increase productivity efficiency while lowering administration costs through centralized control, automation and orchestration. The idea is to have the right number of copies of data attached to the right policies and storage.

In 2017, we can expect CDM to converge with intelligent data management platforms. Traditional data backup companies like Veritas Technologies have taken steps in this direction. The company integrated its Veritas Velocity technology into NetBackup and it is in a controlled release with general availability planned for the first quarter of 2017.

Commvault's Foster said customers are pushing vendors to deliver more integrated solutions. He said typically customers use CDM to give database or development teams more agility by creating a golden copy of a data set. He said while CDM is often pitched as backup, it isn't really.

"Customers will ask vendors to provide a single solution that can deliver three options in a single integrated solution," Foster said. "Customers are smart enough to know they need to integrate backup, snapshots and CDM into one solution."

Better replication helps DRaaS mature

DraaS is another area that will change in 2017. After an increase in the number of DRaaS options in 2015 and 2016, prices will likely drop in the coming year due to better replication tools.

"Prices will come down and more data will be replicated and not just backed up," Farajun said. "Historically, customers only replicated a small percentage of their data because it was expensive. They replicated their billing payment systems, databases and ERP. They replicated the more mission-critical applications to the business."

Foster said DraaS offerings will become more mature.

"DraaS is getting into critical business systems," he said. "It's not just simple Web applications. We will see it in more complex parts of the business. Architectures are coming in that make replication more repeatable."

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