Data Management in 2020 for MSPs
The way we work is changing. With more than 85% of companies operating a “virtual workplace”, and on average a quarter of employees working remotely...
Data Management in 2020 for MSPs
The top 5 trends to watch out for
During 2019, we saw new data governance regulations, a rise in traffic moving to the cloud, and an unprecedented level of cybercrime. This spurred companies to revisit their data management strategies, invest in new resources, and tighten data security. As the workforce continues to disperse, data complexity increases and hackers become even more skilled at penetrating defences. What lies ahead as we enter 2020? Here’s our view on the top 5 prevalent trends:
The rise of the digital workplace
The way we work is changing. With more than 85% of companies operating a “virtual workplace”, and on average a quarter of employees working remotely (estimated to be 43% by 2023)1, it’s not surprising that many workers are looking for fast, safe and easy ways to access their data. With a workforce accustomed to ‘on-demand’ access in their personal lives (and that’s not just Millennials and Gen Z we’re referring to here), the challenge for companies is to ensure they provide secure and frictionless access to core business systems and data – or risk losing out on top talent.
The expectation from nearly all business users is that they have access to the data they need, when they need it. They take a collaboration-first approach, and leave the security aspect to IT. While users understand that cyber-attacks happen and that data loss could impact their team, they typically view this with a Netflix-style mentality: they can deal with buffer for a while, but after a few minutes, it gets irritating. So, the pressure is on already stretched IT departments. It’s no longer a case of having peace of mind that the data is backed up, the question is how quickly and effortlessly can you recover it?
With business users breathing down their necks, we predict that IT decision-makers will be taking a recovery-first approach when assessing their data-backup suppliers. In 2020, they’ll be asking more robust questions about the speed of critical-data recovery, bandwidth capacity, and looking at ways to hit their RTO objectives successfully.
Their modern workforce won’t accept anything less.
More than 85% of companies operate a “virtual workplace”, and on average a quarter of employees work remotely
"The Future of Work is one of the most defining trends this decade, as enterprises are forced to reinvent their data and technology strategies to meet the needs of a workforce that wants access to data anytime, anywhere."
Archana Venkatraman, Research Manager – European Datacenter Research, IDC
While today’s workplace is a far more fluid, casual environment, the technology that the business relies on, may not be as modern.
Many IT organisations have ageing infrastructure that costs too much, is unstable, limiting, complex and time-consuming to maintain. To overcome the physical limitations of legacy infrastructure, a vast majority of enterprises are migrating some or all of their workloads into the public cloud, attempting to take advantage of exascale technology that offers practically limitless resources, with no capital expenditure.
Yet this approach feeds one of the biggest challenges in data management: controlling data sprawl. A staggering amount of new data is produced every day, structured and unstructured, most of which is fragmented across different infrastructure silos and locations. IT teams struggle to locate and manage complex data - and with critical data spread, the risk footprint is substantially increased.
Understanding where data is (on-prem and in the cloud) is essential to help ensure adequate governance.
Whether businesses have deliberately chosen a strategic approach to embrace the cloud (Deloitte reports that more than 93% of organisations involve public cloud in their digital transformation plans2), or whether they are grappling to catch up with shadow IT, one thing is clear: the pace of change is staggering. It’s almost impossible for IT departments to be on the front-foot and cope with data volumes and challenges. As a result, companies aren’t able to optimise cloud spend, and often face higher bills than expected.
Cloud spending grew last year by almost 40% (half of it won by Amazon from Microsoft)3, and 2020 figures will be higher. As businesses continue to use cloud as overspill, or embrace a cloud-first strategy, we predict businesses will invest more time, resource and effort in establishing a comprehensive set of guidelines for governing data and mastering data sprawl.
Cloud spending grew last year at almost 40%
Making data security a top business priority
Despite each week bringing a new wave of cybercrime headlines, and industry experts warning companies that it’s only a matter of time before they suffer a data breach, many businesses are still failing to protect themselves fully.
Hacking methods are now more complex and sophisticated than ever before, with hackers able to penetrate robust corporate defences, while ‘flying under the radar’.
Ironically, when it comes to data breaches, innocent workers can cause as much damage as malicious hackers. Several years ago, Gartner predicted that the internal threat (employee ignorance) is just as big as the external threat4, and the ICO reports that human error causes more data loss than malicious attacks, with the most common breach being as a result of someone sending data to the wrong person5.
In today’s ‘always-on’ world, not having access to your business data for even a few hours can cause irreparable damage in the form of lost business, fines, and reputational damage. The average cost of downtime, according to Gartner, is more than £4,300 per minute, and this amount is growing6. Yet, there remains a gaping chasm between awareness of the threat, and readiness to address it. A survey by IBM and Ponemon of 2,400 security and IT professionals found that 75% of respondents said they did not have a formal cybersecurity-incident response plan across their organisation, and 66% of those who replied, weren’t confident in their organisation’s ability to recover from an attack7.
While many modern businesses classify their corporate data as a tier 1 asset, business leaders still see disruptive attacks as implausible worst-case scenarios. Or worse, simply don’t plan for them, blindly believing “it won’t happen to us”. Aside from the high-profile cases where hackers leaked confidential data, held companies to ransom, or taunted executives, thousands of events have taken place where critical business systems were degraded, malicious code added, or staff simply lost access to their computers for a period of time.
In 2020, it’s vital that companies ramp up their cyber intelligence and response, and get data security to the top of their c-suite’s agenda. As seen in the recent Travelex data breach8, companies are being harshly judged on how well they manage these events. The companies that recognise breaches as inevitable, and move from a security-prevention approach to a security-protection strategy, will be the data winners in this decade.
The average cost of downtime, according to Gartner, is more than £4,300 per minute
Data literacy is the key to successful digital transformation
Data is everywhere and used by everyone. It’s no longer the sole domain of IT or compliance teams, and it’s not just data scientists who get heart-racing moments thinking of data analysis. Many standard business users need to know how to interrogate and visualise corporate data – in essence ‘speak data’.
As reported by Gartner, “By now, most organizations have identified the need to build a data-driven organization,” says Alan D. Duncan, Vice President. “This is reflected by the increasing appointment of Chief Data Officers (CDOs). One of their critical priorities is to foster data literacy across their organization. We expect that by 2020, 80% of organizations will initiate deliberate competency development in the field of data literacy, acknowledging their extreme deficiency.”9
For some companies, GDPR has provided the foundation for creating their own data protection regulations and championing data literacy. It’s typically large enterprises who are fearful of the eye-watering high fines, who have gone gung-ho and radically transformed how they treat and manage data (and are taking this even further by investing in DataOps methodology).
Yet small to medium-sized companies are still struggling to improve data transparency and traceability, and they can’t quickly and easily evidence compliance (be it they don’t have the resource, tools, budget or exec buy-in).
With data literacy being a key building block to a successful data management strategy, we anticipate more businesses this year approaching this holistically and looking at what people, process and technology improvements they need to put in place across their business; as well as the culture to adapt continuously.
“To reduce risk and to become a data-led business, the first step is to improve data literacy. Every employee needs to be data literate today: they need to know where the data is, how to use it and how to argue with it,”
added Archana Venkatraman, Research Manager for IDC.
Thinking beyond the backup built into cloud apps
Sitting at the centre of business productivity now is SaaS, which need to be treated as business-critical applications.
One of the biggest cloud juggernauts is the rapid adoption of Microsoft® Office 365®. The O365 force continues to sweep across all industries and companies of all sizes, and it’s not hard to see why. Employees have access to the latest productivity and collaboration tools, capex and maintenance costs are reduced, it’s easy to scale up or down, and high availability is assured. In fact, the adoption has been so rapid, Microsoft now supports more than 120 million corporate users. What’s fuelling these gains is data – your corporate data - making the suite such a high target for cyber-criminals.
Organisations lose cloud data every day, even from Office 365, G Suite, and Salesforce. SaaS penetration is so high, businesses can no longer ignore it: in fact, 77% of companies that use SaaS applications suffered a data loss incident over a 12-month period.10 Many businesses are under the false impression that comprehensive security, back-up, and identity management tools are built into Office 365. While Microsoft does replicate and back up its Office 365 service, it only protects its own interests by making sure any loss on its end can be recovered. Microsoft’s back-up does not protect firms from user errors such as accidental deletion or an employee maliciously deleting files. Organisations need a third-party solution to deal with this very prevalent form of data loss. O365, and more recently Microsoft 365, is transforming the way companies work, and it’s all going well . . . until it isn’t.
Microsoft even warns that although it strives to keep services up and running "all online services suffer occasional disruptions and outages, and we recommend that you regularly back up your Content and Data that you store on the Services, or store using Third-Party Apps and Services."
Up until now, cloud-based applications have sat on the perimeter of data management and data protection, yet enterprise-grade data services need to be wrapped around these.
No assumptions can be made when it comes to data recovery, and we expect to see a rise in businesses stepping up and taking a wider responsibility for protecting their cloud-based data.
77% of companies that use SaaS applications suffered a data loss incident over a 12-month period
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