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Companies clamour for better data protection as outdated tech takes its toll

By , Portals editor
Africa , 25 Jan 2023

Data protection is pivotal for any organisation in business in Africa and market research shows that businesses continue to struggle with legacy platforms that cannot meet today’s requirements.

According to the Veeam Data Software Protection Trends Report 2023, 78% of Middle East and Africa (MEA) organisations have an “availability gap” and 76% have a “protection gap”.

Availability indicates how quickly these organisations need systems to be recoverable and how quickly IT can bring them back. Protection refers to how much data they can lose and how frequently IT protects their data.

Chris Norton: Regional Director, Africa for Veeam, said, “I think the standout metric finding for me is how many companies have been battling with solutions that were designed and developed with a specific focus on the legacy platforms that were relevant 10 years ago. So much has changed, especially the complexity of data creation, management and the location that companies need to consider.”

“Hybrid and multi-cloud models do not simplify matters, remote workers, SaaS and edge computing all add layers of complexity. As organisations have evolved their IT infrastructure to meet the changing needs of their businesses, they need to review their data management solutions and simplify the security of their data. That is a significant business risk and one where modern data protection platforms can assist.”

Norton explained that if competitive advantage is based upon ability to take advantage of opportunities that arise and fulfill customer obligations and demands, then any delay to full productivity will have a detrimental effect on business operations.

“In an age of widespread digitisation, an availability gap that remains high seems incongruous. Placed into the context of the widespread nature of IT networks and devices, business and consumer intolerance to downtime, the vast array of scenarios that can result in outages, and a constant disconnect between IT investment and spend on data protection, it may seem less strange. However, the presence of an availability gap does mean that businesses must ask whether they are underpinning their IT systems with data protection solutions that will deliver the desired business productivity.”

Norton said the higher the availability gap, the less efficient the resilience and recoverability of the business - “with potential to limit ability to transform and innovate”.

Gap in protection

Veeam’s research also shows the significance of a protection gap or how much data the business can afford to lose in an outage before its ability to recover is compromised.

Norton added, “Business impact assessments to identify recovery time and recovery point objectives help companies figure out how long they can get by before the loss of systems and the processes they serve will hurt the business severely, as well as telling them how recent the restored data needs to be for business as usual to resume. Get it right and the protection gap should be small. In an era of hybrid cloud or ‘X-as-a-Service’, it is easy to think firms no longer need to own the responsibility for protecting their data. Not so. Whilst some cloud-hosted offerings are natively durable, implying that in certain circumstances, the availability gap might be closing, the protection gap can still exist in cloud services as within the datacentre because most cloud providers do not back up their subscribers’ data.”

Additional key findings in MEA from the report include the below trends for 2023:

  • 33% of organisations stated that being able to standardise their protection capabilities across their data centre, IaaS and SaaS workloads is a key driver in their 2023 strategy.
  • 84% of organisations anticipate using Backup as a Service (BaaS) or Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) to protect at least some of their servers over the next two years.
  • Organisations stated they are looking to increase their data protection budget by 5.8% in 2023.
  • Ransomware attacks continue to be more frequent with only 14% of organisations experiencing no ransomware attacks in 2022, while 48% experienced two or three attacks in the same year. 

But the responsibility for data protection remains with the data owner, i.e. the client business.

“For example, Microsoft 365 provides infrastructure that is natively durable, and it has a recycle bin built into the software, but this is not a fit-for-purpose as a backup or disaster recovery service,” said Norton.

IT leaders feel less protected

Norton said the main message from IT leaders is that they are not protected well enough, for several reasons including dissatisfaction with the status quo and the ever-present gloom of imminent ransomware risks.

Data protection regulation like POPIA adds another layer of complexity to the situation, as does the need to spend more on protection.

Veeam’s report says the global data protection market will continue to grow this year, with respondents revealing their data protection budgets will increase 6.5% in 2023.

The company added that in order to address the challenges locally, organisations in the MEA region expect to increase their data protection budgets by 5.8% in 2023, with “Improving Reliability/Success of Backups” being a top priority for 29% of them.

For 66%, this will involve changing their primary data protection solution.

Looking ahead, Norton emphasised several trends that he believes will dominate the data protection space. These include reliability and consistency of protecting IaaS and SaaS alongside datacentre servers; an increase in the integration of data recovery tools with other cyber detection and remediation technologies; more focus on cloud tiers for retention, Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS).

Said Norton, “Data Protection will continue to be at the core of business leaders’ strategies. To address data protection challenges, organisations are expected to increase their data protection budgets by 5.8% in 2023. For many of them, this will involve changing their primary data protection solution, reported by 66% of organisations in MEA. Furthermore, it is clear from the trends reported that the single most important aspect of a modern data protection solution for organisations and business leaders today is the integration of data protection within a cyber preparedness strategy.”

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