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The COVID-19 pandemic shifted most companies to operating remotely nearly overnight. IT was forced to adapt just as quickly, especially when it came to backup and recovery processes. In fact, 30% of respondents in Evaluator Group's "Enterprise IT Responds to COVID-19" study noted their data protection processes benefiting regarding attention and funding.
While some of these remote backup and recovery changes were temporary measures to carry the business through the near-term state of emergency and response, others will be permanent and have lasting implications on enterprise IT. This article will draw on Evaluator Group's study as well as our ongoing consultations with enterprise IT professionals to explore which changes in the backup and recovery world are here to stay, and why.
Expanded protection coverage and validation
The first and arguably most prominent permanent change is, put simply, "more" data protection. By this, we mean coverage of remote and cloud-based assets and building more confidence in recoverability.
For its study, Evaluator Group interviewed IT professionals from a range of enterprise-scale organizations. Many indicated being caught under-prepared in their ability to pivot to enable the remote workforce. They reported leaning on their protection infrastructures to guarantee critical business services. This includes facilitating remote accessibility, providing protection for increased errors as users work remotely and fending off an increased number of cyber attacks such as ransomware.
Several IT professionals discussed introducing or increasing the frequency of testing protection operations, as well as the need to test at a larger scale. Additionally, some noted the need for more backups to ensure acceptable recovery point objectives. Validation of backup data integrity also plays a role from this standpoint.
Additional endpoints like laptops and virtual desktop infrastructures are entering the equation and being leaned on heavily for day-to-day, business-critical operations. The same is true for SaaS applications and cloud-based infrastructure. All these resources require remote backup and recovery. More remote access increases new security vulnerabilities.
Increased usage of cloud backup
Evaluator Group's research has found that COVID-19 will drive an uptick in the ongoing shift towards using cloud resources. The cloud is remotely accessible for users, and IT does not need to worry about physically going into a data center for deployment, management and maintenance. Much of these responsibilities are shifted to a third party, alleviating IT from having to handle them.
Additionally, cloud resources are quick to get up and running and are easily scalable. Especially as data protection becomes even more important because of COVID-19, these are all valuable traits in a remote backup and recovery platform.
These value points acknowledged, there are some potential pitfalls to avoid. The cloud can potentially add storage retention and recovery costs. It shifts the skill sets required of IT, as enterprise backup and data protection administrators typically do not have experience working in the cloud, meaning that retaining or adding resources might be required. Organizations must also weigh and monitor security and compliance risks, which can add effort in the form of audits.
Using backup and recovery to protect against cyberthreats is not going away. Cybersecurity was the number one area in the study expected to benefit because of COVID-19. Not only does increased remote access and work-from-home activity expand the potential attack surface and increase potentially insecure points of entry, but bad actors are also using the pandemic for phishing and other attacks. These issues will persist for the foreseeable future, increasing requirements in cybersecurity as well as remote backup and recovery.