Enterprise IT is evolving at a rapid pace with new platforms to address emerging business demands. The integration of mobile devices, cloud adoption by business, expansion of data repositories and a general trend toward centralization is changing the way IT is consumed and managed.
Backup and recovery is influenced by these trends. As backup targets and platforms multiply and costs skyrocket from the time, human capital and costs required, backup vendors are responding. This article will review anticipated changes in IT that are impacting backup technologies, processes and costs. With this foresight is the promise that while a growing number of challenges are negatively affecting organizations, technologies and solutions are available able to mitigate their impact.
Five Backup Industry Predictions for 2015
- Cloud-to-cloud backup will increase in adoption as organizations transition to SaaS-based applications.
- RTOs shorten as new technologies become available to improve recovery time in any data loss situation.
- Enterprise backup volumes increase as greater number of devices and data types are incorporated into backup sets.
- Increased backup technology consolidation as solutions are called on to do more with less complexity and cost.
- Pricing paradigms continue to evolve to be fair and focus on value.
While there are a number of mainstream technology trends impacting the backup space, those that change where data is stored, its volume and location are the most relevant with respect to data protection. The first of these is business adoption of SaaS or cloud-based applications, such as Salesforce.com, Google Apps and Office 365.
According to Gartner, SaaS is cannibalizing on-premise applications at a growing rate . Perceived lower TCO, faster and easier deployment and reduced capital expense rank among the top drivers for SaaS adoption says the analyst firm.
Microsoft sales of Office 365 support this assertion with more 1.5 million new MS Office 365 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2014, moving the needle toward a 147% cloud application growth rate.
However, when data resides in an external SaaS cloud such as Office 365, it is still the responsibility of the organization or the owner of the data to ensure the recovery of that information if lost. For example, if an organization cancels their Office 365 subscription, Microsoft will delete their data after 90 days. However, for regulatory or compliance reasons organizations may need to retain their data for a much longer period of time. Because of this, the need for backup technologies that allow users to regain control of data in cloud-based repositories will increase in 2015, calling for the protection of that data to be integrated within the corporate backup infrastructure. For backup solutions, this will be a necessary step forward in the backup market as cloud applications such as Office 365 are expected to rank among the top in use globally.
The need for SaaS backup in the New Year will be closely followed by the requirement for local and remote data recovery in the event of a site failure. As more backup solutions become more closely aligned with the cloud, solutions will differentiate on multiple levels. Second only to backup reliability will be recovery performance or the ability to retrieve lost data regardless of location. To speed recovery of mission critical data, many organizations will deploy DRaaS solutions. DRaaS is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third-party service provider to allow for failover in the event of a man-made or natural catastrophe. The recovery can take place at an existing corporate location or at a planned recovery site to expedite BC. In 2015, this technology will be viewed as a competitive differentiator and eventually become a mainstream ‘must-have’ to ensure business resilience.
As in the years prior, the next 12 months will see an enormous growth of data. According to a report in 2014 by IDC  , “the digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply 10-fold between 2013 and 2020 – from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.” IDC’s research indicates that data in the digital universe ‘touched’ by the cloud was 20% in 2013. By 2020, that percentage will double to 40%. This surge in data is exploding for multiple reasons, including the proliferation of wireless technologies, smart products, software defined businesses and the Internet of Things (IoT). In the world of backup, this rise in data will increase the cost to protect it. The volume of data protected and the management of large distributed backup sets is breaking budgets and pulling valuable IT resources away from revenue generating IT projects. In 2015, backup vendors will further address this concern with technologies that take the management of large data sets into consideration.
One of the ways the issue of backup volumes is being addressed is not by the backup technology itself but by the way in which vendors charge to protect it. In most instances, backup pricing is based on the amount of data to be protected, whether tied to the number of machines or volume of data. However, this model is untenable as backup volumes drive pricing beyond available budgets. In 2015, IT administrators will seek alternative pricing models or technology solutions that apply policies to shrink protected data volumes. One such example is recovery-based pricing which flips traditional backup pricing on its head. The approach realigns with the value of backup which is the recovery of data and re-focuses it on the amount of data recovered versus that which is backed up. With this approach users will protect an unlimited amount of data without a pricing penalty and instead pay based on the data that is important enough to recover. The resulting savings of this approach can be as high as 70%.
Finally, the expansion of computing platforms and devices along with data growth has resulted in a cocktail of backup solutions to protect data across physical, virtual, cloud and mobile environments that a few years ago did not exist. Most enterprises have as many as ten backup solutions to backup data on servers, remote sites, virtual environments, tablets/laptops and the cloud. The resulting mix of backup repositories with differing recovery strategies for each environment and the management resources required to ensure BC has been exhaustive for many organizations. The next twelve months will see continued movement toward centralization of this process as new technologies integrate with a broader number of IT environments.
The challenges facing IT professionals can be succinctly narrowed down to increasing IT administrator pain resulting from higher complexity and cost. The backup industry is impacted by current and forthcoming trends and vendors have made strides to simplify data protection in ways that have reduced capital and operational expense. While many have made varied attempts, some have made great strides in advancing their solutions. Understanding the forthcoming challenges in data protection and how to ensure the best approach for one’s organization will define industry discussions moving forward. The final responsibility for streamlining backup and refocusing efforts on revenue generating projects is in the hands of IT.
 Gartner – Market Trends: SaaS’s Varied Levels of Cannibalization to On-Premises Applications
 IDC – The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things, April, 2014.