We are a quarter of the way through 2022, and the profound changes we are seeing in the world at large will only accelerate trends that are driving IT forward in the year ahead. A more distributed workforce, new ways of interacting with customers, and a rethinking of supply chain logistics are all impacting IT. As businesses re-architect, they are including data protection and security as first order imperatives in their environments.
IT continues to adapt to trends like multi-cloud, massive unstructured data growth and the use of as-a-Service models. Organizations will focus on technology that gives decision makers more confidence to protect their data and offer a secure environment, while continuing to leverage both cloud and on-premises infrastructure and services. The sphere of protection now must extend to the edge, where the IT footprint will continue to increase, and where ensuring data security and data protection is especially challenging.
The shift to containerized workloads is rapidly accelerating. Enterprise storage and data protection capabilities for these workloads is a must have for businesses that are building new containerized applications. A related development is the surge in interest in software-defined storage. This is in conjunction with a revolution in storage access in the form of NVMe-over-TCP, which unlocks greater levels of performance for all workloads.
These are the trends you can expect to see moving business and IT forward in the year ahead:
It is anyone’s guess when the next cyber-attack is going to target your business as highly sophisticated malignant actors can come from all corners. It is time to tighten up, and proactively take steps to protect your business against cyber attackers. Advanced data protection is one tool in the arsenal that can allow rapid recovery from ransomware attacks. In combination with a strong security discipline, including two-factor authentication, network intrusion monitoring, and good hygiene around keeping systems up-to-date with the latest patches, a company can significantly improve its resilience against attacks.
The Need for Air-gapped Cyber Vaults
Businesses will continue to deploy strongly secured cyber vaults as a physically or logically air-gapped system, protected from their larger networks and therefore less vulnerable to attack. These systems provide a high-confidence backup target, enabling rapid restoration of business-processes, data and applications, should a ransomware attack occur. They combine this with active defenses of their networks and data stores, rapid detection of intrusion and pro-active response planning to ensure business continuity, and privacy of confidential data.
As more companies take multi-cloud approaches to storing data, you can also expect them to move critical data away from the attack surface by physically and logically isolating it from access within public clouds through a secure, automated, operational air gap. Companies should look at their vulnerabilities in case their network is compromised, including connected public cloud infrastructure. They should take steps to minimize risk and “air-gap” data. In fact, when it comes to cyber security, a study by Accenture found that 81% of CISOs agree that “staying ahead of attackers is a constant battle and the cost is unsustainable.”
Air-gapped protection against ransomware through cyber vaults allows businesses to reduce risk, maintain business continuity and preserve data integrity and confidentiality with layers of security and controls.
Data Protection at the Edge
Data is increasingly becoming decentralized. According to Gartner, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and kept outside a traditional data center or cloud by 2025. Relatively little of that data is coming from humans. It’s generated by machines, sensors and cameras and often it won’t even be brought back to core data centers or clouds. Over the next year, you can expect businesses to seek out holistic ways of securing their data at the edge that originate at the infrastructure layer.
While many companies have long had remote sites with data, the enterprise network is expanding to include a much larger IT footprint at edge sites. Here the digital world directly meets the physical world. The edge is where many companies conduct critical aspects of their business, be it retail, resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation or energy production.
In many cases, the IT infrastructure is interfacing with a very different Operational Technology (OT) world. At the same time, companies are increasingly turning to the cloud and to IT vendors to manage both their primary and edge sites. In the year ahead, customers will increase their use of secure backup solutions, whether distributed to edge sites or centralized, to protect edge generated data. They will also seek ways to extend data security to the edge, and to eliminate vulnerability to network intrusion at edge sites.
Over the last few years, we’ve transitioned to a more remote workforce. Companies commonly have thousands of employees working remotely, all with network access. As organizations continue to adapt to growing security concerns in hybrid work environments, Dell’s latest study finds that 74% of companies agree that remote work has caused their exposure to data loss from cyber threats to increase. In the year ahead, companies will seek ways to extend data security to remote workers.
Businesses will continue to migrate workloads to as-a-service models, including everything from application hosting runtimes to underlying compute and storage infrastructure. The security requirements for such infrastructure are just as great as traditionally installed, managed and consumed infrastructure, but with the added complexity that the infrastructure is often located in a shared co-lo location. A corresponding development is the ability to consume backup infrastructure, including Cyber Vaults, in a similar fashion.
Adoption of Multi-cloud
Companies will continue to adopt a multi-cloud model in the year ahead. As enterprises look to bring more and more of their applications to public cloud, they’ll also need enterprise-grade solutions and services for their workloads that are integrated with their on-premises infrastructure stacks. A recent Forrester study revealed that 83% of organizations have adopted a multi-cloud approach or plan to within the next 12 months. This is an evolution of the hybrid model; they want the ability to move among clouds and on-prem infrastructure. With that growth, we’ll see an increased reliance on multi-cloud-enabled data protection for virtualized and containerized workloads, databases, and network-attached storage (NAS) file systems.
Tremendous Unstructured Data Growth
The combination of social media, email, IoT data, backups, and rich content like audio and video files mean that unstructured data continues to see tremendous growth. The management of that data is going to get harder and more complicated over time. Businesses will need solutions that span edge, core and cloud locations that help them with analyzing, archiving and managing it.
A study from IDC identified the need for flexibility as a top driver for managing unstructured data growth. In 2022 and beyond, we’ll continue to see organizations embrace flexible storage systems to easily support a mix of demanding and modern workloads using AI/ML/DL, along with traditional use cases like file consolidation and archives. Key requirements of flexibility noted in the report include mixed media support, nondisruptive scalability, ease of public cloud integration, multiple access methods and the availability of different deployment models.
Containerized Workloads and NVMe
Enterprise interest in containerized workloads continues to grow as does the need for enterprise storage and data protection capabilities as more mission-critical workloads are run in those environments. On the software innovation front, more businesses will adopt software-defined storage. We’ll also see storage hardware innovation begin to lean on NVMe-over-Fabrics to unlock greater performance for midrange and high-end workloads.
Data Protection Beyond 2022
The way we do business is shifting faster than ever and is driving decision-makers to reconsider how they will manage their data in 2022 and beyond. As we move toward a more distributed IT and business world, will you be prepared to meet these new challenges, or left thinking about how you could have planned to meet the needs of tomorrow?
Peter Corbett is senior storage architect at Dell Technologies. He has over 25 years of experience in product R&D, and deep expertise in all aspects of storage and data management systems and infrastructure.