Data is Growing – Budgets are Tight

IDC research predicts that corporate data will continue to grow at an annual compound rate of 40-50% [1]. This means that IT organizations will be tasked with managing about 7.5 zettabytes (ZB) of data by 2025 compared to 2.6ZB in 2018, all while on restricted budgets…yikes! In this BlogBytes we will review the recent IDC white paper that discusses how the data explosion phenomenon affects business and taxes cloud strategies for data storage and protection and explore how LTO tape technology can help alleviate the burden.

Data Growth vs the Budget

The recently published white paper by IDC’s Phil Goodwin highlights that the majority of the zettabyte data growth will be unstructured data, which can require additional management resources. As discussed in a previous BlogBytes called The Big Data Challenge, “unstructured data is loosely organized and does not conform neatly into formats such as spreadsheets or databases – it is typically in the form of text files, email or multimedia files.” IDC forecasts that “IT budgets will increase by 2–3% in 2019, [while] IT staff resources will remain flat. The result will be that as data continues to grow exponentially, it will require businesses to find more efficient methods of managing it.” As noted in the IDC paper, “…the availability of data and ability to access data are cornerstones of business success.”

Is the data hot or cold?

IDC estimates that about 40% of the 7.5ZB of data will be commercially related and of that about 60% will be cold data or data with expected retrieval of greater than 30 days. Therefore, most data is cold data and is a good candidate for tape storage at primary and cloud sites. IDC’s Goodwin explains “Although there is a trend toward all-flash arrays in the datacenter, it is simply not necessary to house infrequently accessed, but still essential data on the most expensive, low-latency disk. However, it is essential to keep this data safe for when it is needed.” As noted, the recovery time and recovery point objectives, as well as recurring charges and fees should be considered when evaluating on-premise and cloud options.

How do hackers succeed?

These vast quantities must be protected from malware and hackers. Goodwin points out; “Ransomware attackers succeed only when they can destroy all means of self-recovery. Once an organization is hijacked of its ability to recover its own data, then cybercriminals are able to extort maximum ransom. Though being unable to recover data is a cardinal sin of data protection, our research shows that nearly 25% of organizations have suffered such an event within the past three years.” Data replication strategies like mirrors and clones can protect against failures, but the online data is still vulnerable to cyber-attack or disgruntled employees. What can you do to provide maximum protection? Read on.

The data shield: LTO Technology

As a best practice, organizations should create an “air gap” between the data and the system for maximum protection. Goodwin describes this protective shield as “a break in the data stream.” The IDC paper goes on to state; “This [air gap] can be accomplished manually by moving data from one storage medium to another or by physically separating copies of data (i.e., data sets) to ensure one does not infect previous backups. While possible through replication technologies, this manual approach can be arduous and expensive. Tape technology, in contrast, natively introduces an air gap and does so cost effectively, ensuring there is always a recoverable master copy of data.”

Tape can help protect data against malware and other cyber-threats since it is inherently offline, creating the recommended air gap since a cartridge removed from the tape drive is no longer connected to the system and therefore unavailable to cyber-attackers. You can see more in a webinar by IDC here and the IDC white paper here.

[1] Tape and Cloud: Solving Storage Problems in the Zettabyte Era of Data. Phil Goodwin. IDC, June 2019.