Let’s Talk Software-Defined Storage, DPaaS & the Data Protection Continuum

Second Machine Age. Internet of Things. Social Network of Machines. Third Platform. Software-Defined Data Center. Buzzwords? Absolutely. But the noise isn’t just hype – it’s the sound of the construction of a new technical world.

In this blog series, we discussed how The Second Machine Age will transform consumers’ relationship with technology with the new Social Network of Machines. Now, we are looking at how IT’s value will evolve to become even more focused on trust, especially data protection.

There is one technological constant: our insatiable appetite for more – more compute power, more network bandwidth, and more storage capacity. As every person and device generates data that companies and governments yearn to analyze, our current notion of “unthinkably large” will become laughably small. Just as the need for “more” drove the shift from mainframe to client-server, it is driving the move to the Third Platform, where information is always connected and always available.

Already, the Third Platform has already changed the IT landscape. A highly interconnected (social) and location-aware (mobile) pool of compute and storage (cloud), the Third Platform enables next-generation applications to address a new scale and type of information (big data).

Today, any one company’s IT department lack the resources to build their own Third Platform. Meanwhile, the allure of simple, scalable infrastructure has led Lines of Business (LOBs) to deploy shadow IT. The latest reports assert that as much as 40%+ of IT spending occurs outside the sphere of the CIO. The IT landscape has changed. So, what does this mean for IT professionals?

IT teams must position themselves to play a role in the Third Platform or risk irrelevancy. To do this, they need to:

  • Streamline Second Platform offerings by focusing on simplicity, reliability, and scalability. This will help maintain both footprint and organizational credibility.
  • Identify value-added services it can offer by engaging with LOBs on the Third Platform. This ensures relevancy in the new world.

The key to both is Trust. Trust by application owners and LOBs that data will be there when they need it and how they need it.

Much of the Second Platform’s complexity comes from protection. Business applications require different service levels, ranging from continuous availability to near-instant disaster recovery to multi-hour data restoration to long-term archival services. Unfortunately, the variety of technologies that map to these service levels is overwhelming—e.g., clustering, mirrors (synchronous, asynchronous, and periodic), snapshots, backup software and hardware, and archive. To add to the complexity, organizations can deploy these technologies within the application, hypervisor, storage, or server.

Chaos arose because the backup team offered neither the service levels nor the visibility/control that their users wanted, and vendors offered individual solutions for each pain point. The result: an “accidental architecture” of a dozen or more homegrown solutions that overruns capital and operational budgets, creates confusion, and cripples business responsiveness.

To simplify the Second Platform, IT’s protection team must deploy Data Protection as a Service (DPaaS):

  1. Expose the continuum as a set of service levels, rather than unrelated products.
  2. Ensure that users can access their protected data when and where they need it.
  3. Deliver the centralized reporting, policy management, and analytics to add value to the protection copies – regardless of how or where they were created.

Once teams know their applications are safe, IT can accelerate to better meet business needs with the Second Platform. Furthermore, they will be ready to help their business embrace the Third Platform.

Data Protection as a Service is the key for IT to connect to the Third Platform. It rebuilds IT’s credibility with the business on the Second Platform, and it establishes IT’s expertise (i.e., the necessary people and processes) in the area that most concerns users of the Third Platform:

  • How do you make sure that their (big) data remains available and functional in the face of malicious (security attacks) or non-malicious (error, malfunction, natural disaster) threats?
  • How do you make sure that they treat our metadata with the security that we demand? In other words, how do I know that my data and applications are safe, can be recovered, and can only be accessed by authorized owners?

With DPaaS, IT can function as a service provider. IT is set up to monitor and manage the safety of applications and data, regardless of where the applications run and the protection tools used. IT has the solutions, the authority, and the skillset to lead LOBs to safe adoption of the Third Platform or whatever platform their information lives on.

The Second Machine Age is redefining both our personal relationship with technology and its underlying infrastructure. The Third Platform promises autonomy, simplicity, and freedom… not protection. But it can. The key to meeting a continuum of business service-level objectives with the self-service that application owners crave is to deliver a continuum of data protection services as a service. It’s the realization of a software-defined world.

Are you ready to redefine data protection? We are!

About the Author: Stephen Manley