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How to use multi-cloud data management and protection

Data protection vendors are continuing to add more data management features in their products. How does this convergence affect multi-cloud environments?

Today's enterprise relies on a mixture of core and edge data centers and private and public cloud environments. Backup administrators face the challenge of managing data cohesively across these environments.

In fact, the role of the backup administrator is evolving into one of a data administrator with responsibility for data protection.

A variety of vendors are working to more holistically address the requirements of managing data across multiple clouds. In particular, data protection vendors have largely been leading this charge as a natural extension of core capabilities. However, the full scope of multi-cloud data management is broad. There is currently no single product, program or system that addresses all multi-cloud data management needs.

Data location and mobility

Backup administrators must use multiple storage infrastructures to meet their organization's range of instant and high-speed recovery, long-term retention and compliance requirements. This becomes an expensive proposition with legacy data protection technologies, largely because data is siloed and cannot be easily moved across storage infrastructure resources as access and retention requirements evolve. To address this problem, many data protection vendors are investing to enable data mobility across on-premises and cloud-based infrastructures. Many also allow for the creation of a centralized namespace across various storage infrastructures.

The full scope of multi-cloud data management is broad.

Policy-based and, increasingly, artificial intelligence-driven data placement and tiering capabilities have also become important. Their major value lies in helping to cut costs while still meeting performance requirements. They ensure data is on the storage infrastructure that will provide the level of performance required when the data is accessed, and then they tier the data to a lower-cost storage infrastructure as its access requirements decline.

Automated lifecycle management helps to make sure files are deleted as they age, in accordance with retention requirements. Furthermore, these capabilities improve data availability by reducing the time it takes to respond to outages as well as other data access requests from users. Self-service restores play a role here as well.

Data access, compliance and visibility

Cataloging all the data an organization creates, stores and protects is a core function of data protection -- something that has been made more difficult by data sprawl. In response, platforms with more sophisticated metadata tracking, as well as automatic identification and classification of data, are entering the market.

We are seeing vendors apply analytics to telemetry data to provide visibility into areas such as resource utilization. Together, these capabilities provide better visibility into what data is being captured, and how that data is being stored, protected and used by the business. It can also simplify the process of accessing data and provide for faster and more granular recovery options.

Chart of multi-cloud statistics

Finally -- but far from least importantly -- the increased visibility and control facilitated by more comprehensive data management capabilities can help backup administrators respond to the growing number of compliance requirements. These capabilities include automated and documented failover and failback testing, and the ability to conduct staged recoveries. Better multi-cloud data management can also help protect against the more sophisticated cyberattack landscape that features ransomware.

What about potential risks in multi-cloud data management?

It's clear the expansion into data management capabilities is helping to evolve data protection from an expensive insurance policy into an enabler of business insights. However, we are still in the early days of building out enterprise multi-cloud data management strategies.

An Evaluator Group survey of 125 enterprise data protection users found less than 10% of these IT professionals identify their organization as already doing some form of enterprise data management. This is a maturing market that can result in pitfalls, such as over- or under-protection of resources, depending on how it is implemented. This is reflected in the sheer scope of enterprise data management, which extends not only across on-premises and public cloud resources, but also across production and secondary storage resources.

In fact, 37% of the respondents surveyed indicated they believe their primary storage environment will be the foundation of an enterprise data management strategy, followed by backup at 21%. One size will not fit all in this market, and it is important that backup administrators engage closely with line-of-businesses regarding strategic priorities.

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