ESG Guest Blog 4 of 6: ‘Get More Out of Your Data’ through better Data Protection

Posted 11/10/2015 by Commvault

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We're happy to welcome Jason Buffington, senior analyst at ESG (Enterprise Strategy Group), onto our blog page. Jason will contribute a six-blog series that will focus on key issues related to data and information management, compliance, security and share his perspective on top customer considerations for establishing best practices in today’s changing IT landscape.

Buffington is focused primarily on data protection, Windows Server infrastructure, management, and virtualization. He has actively deployed or consulted on data protection and storage solutions since 1989, working at channel partners, Cheyenne (CA) ARCserve, NSI DoubleTake and Microsoft. Check out all of ESG’s data protection perspectives from Jason. In this fourth installment, he’ll explore Commvault’s initiatives toward enabling “Analytics” and “Access & Collaboration.”

If you’ve been following this blog series, we’ve used the Data Protection Spectrum model to describe a complimentary set of activities that are grounded in Backup, but are supplemented by snapshots, replication, etc. Outside of these blogs, ESG often contrasts the ‘products/technologies’ of backup/snaps/replicas and the ‘processes/culture’ of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) appended to the right side of the graphic.


In the last installment in this blog series, we discussed the need for broader approaches to data protection that included not only traditional backups, but also snapshots, replication and other mechanisms within a single strategy and ideally managed through a common framework. The problem is that it would be nearly impossible try to address all of the methods of data protection that an organization likely should consider, if those methods were each attempted separately.

Because of this, ESG believes that for IT organizations to really be successful at addressing the myriad recovery/resiliency methods described above, the functionality throughout the colors of the Data Protection Spectrum must be integrated. But even that isn’t the whole story.

If ‘Data Protection’ (DP) is the umbrella-term that encompasses all of the various functions depicted above, then ‘Data Management’ (DM) is an even broader umbrella term, including:

  • The copies of data created as part of a data protection strategy
  • The copies needed by other parts of the business outside of data protection – e.g. Analytics, Test/Dev, Collaboration, etc.
  • The primary or ‘production’ copy of data

And again, as much as DP is infeasible for most, if attempted through disconnected mechanisms … DM is even more impractical through disjoined approaches. As such, primary data is often ‘on its own,’ DP mechanisms may or may not be concerted, and the other stuff never seems to happen. If that is the case, then step back and just look at the status quo. According to ESG research:

  • Primary/production storage is growing at approximately 40% year-over-year
  • Secondary/data-protection storage is growing at nearly the same rate (38%) year-over-year
  • Unfortunately, data protection budgets are growing at 4.6% year-over-year

Quite literally, you cannot afford to keep doing what you are already doing.  Whenever ‘lifestyle exceeds budget,' you have two choices:

  • ‘Reduce your lifestyle’ – protect less of your data or hold it for less time
  • ‘Increase your revenue’ – get more value out of your data protection infrastructure

In reality, there isn’t a choice to be made. It is very unlikely that you’ll protect less. But it is highly likely that you can gain additional value out of your data protection infrastructure by leveraging its copies for non-data protection related purposes. After all, you have valid copies and access to your data that won’t impact production, and yet is under IT management. The same DP infrastructure that ensures a rapid recovery for production purposes can also deliver rapid access for non-production purposes:

  • Analytics: Understand what you have
  • Access and Collaboration: Enable users’ productivity

When ESG looked at the recognized benefits of their long-term data solution. the top response was what you might expect around regulatory compliance, which I’ll cover in more detail around Information Governance in the next installment of this blog series.

Figure 2 – Why organizations store data for long terms

But behind regulatory compliance were user enablement scenarios that might surprise folks that haven’t unlocked the value out of their data protection/data management system.

To make this more ‘real,’ consider the following: By utilizing your DP infrastructure for non-DP tasks, you are gaining more value out of the infrastructure that you already know that you need for the myriad backup/snapshot/replication needs that you already have. As such, one could infer that by unlocking that incremental value, additional funding might be recognized in deference to the new business-enabling scenarios that a modern DP (now DM) infrastructure can provide. 

Commvault has steadily enhanced its platform around archival technologies, eDiscovery scenarios and snapshot/replica management to the degree that putting names around those use cases to address the ‘Analytics’ and ‘Access/Collaboration’ scenarios that IT organizations are struggling to deliver makes sense.