Data Protection Evolution in the Coming Decade – Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog we looked at the four major technology trends impacting the IT industry. Now let’s discuss what the attributes of future data protection will look like in the coming years.

1) Data protection will be cloud native

Data protection will live in an IT environment that spans on-premises, private and multiple public clouds, and will have to be native to such environments. It will operate wherever the workloads and data reside and at the granularity of the new entities that will be used: containers, functions, micro-services, etc. It will be designed as a cloud-native application and delivered as SaaS to enable seamless scalability and portability that enables protection policies to follow workloads wherever they reside across multi-cloud environments.

2) Business service protection – beyond data protection

As IT environments evolve, protecting just the data is insufficient. For example, we used to protect the data/log files of a database or application, and during a recovery event, present these files to a DBA who was then responsible for bringing the database back online. In dynamic cloud-native environments or in distributed edge configurations, there is no DBA to manage the recovery process.  Instead, the data protection service will need to deliver the automation required to not only restore the data, but also configure and set up the environment (platform, compute, services, networking) to fully automate the recovery process.  This level of automation requires the data protection service to protect all the entities that constitute the business service and fully orchestrate the recovery to ensure the lowest RTOs possible.

3) Autonomous Protection & Recovery -> Resilience

As users get used to fully-automated technology services and devices, the business service protection will also evolve to become automatic and eventually autonomous. It will automatically discover all the entities in the IT environment associated with the business service, such as containers, databases, files and file systems, objects, etc. It will then leverage AI/ML algorithms to assign the appropriate protection policy to each of them.

Once protection becomes autonomous, recovery flows will follow. Continuous intelligent health monitoring will detect failures and trigger autonomous recovery to a previous known state to resume the business service. It will even be able to predict some failures and use preemptive measures to avoid service disruptions. It’s an inevitable change since the growing complexity and dynamic nature of the environment will not allow for manual control. Data protection will morph into Business Service Resilience (BSR).

4) Data management and security

The final pillar of future data protection solutions would leverage the data for:

  1. Data management – how we manage repositories of data (files, objects, data-bases etc.) using their meta-data attributes, without analyzing their content. This level of data management is available at various forms in most storage and data protection solutions.
  2. Data Analytics and Content Analysis – this advanced level looks inside data repositories to understand its context and what action should be taken. It ranges from basic Search to more advanced content analysis using Natural Language Understanding to provide insights and optimizations, e.g., by identifying document sensitivity through its content, thus determining the appropriate protection policy.
  3. Security –security will become integral to data protection as their synergies have proven to be effective in responding, or even preventing cyber-attacks. Two examples are the way backup services are used for recovery from ransomware attacks, and how isolated air-gapped systems can be used to recover from cyber-attacks.

These four pillars will be gradually introduced in the coming years. In the final installment of this blog series, the CTO of Dell Technologies Data Protection Division, Arthur Lent, will discuss how Dell Technologies is innovating for the future to deliver on this vision.

About the Author: Yossi Saad

Yossi Saad is an engineer by education (BSEE, MSEE, Cum Laude), a product technologist by profession, and an innovator by choice. Yossi held product-related leadership positions in multiple companies before he joined EMC in 2010. Since, he has led Product Management for disaster recovery solutions and cloud data protection in Dell EMC’s Data Protection Division. In 2018 , he moved to the Office of the CTO to drive long-term technology innovation. Since 2020, Yossi has led the product management team tasked to drive a new edge platform from Dell Technologies. Yossi holds 10 U.S. patents and has 40 patents pending.