Data Management Skills For The Cloud Era

By Deepak Verma

Cloud is changing the skills you need for cloud data management. The days when a business relied on an IT organization and needed separate dedicated teams of specialized staff to serve the data needs are slowly ending.

In many cases, separate departments of core systems administrators – data backup server, network, SAN, server, storage and VM – were needed to get a business application operational. With access to a credit card and a browser (and by performing a few clicks), any business unit can now bypass its IT organization and set up an IT infrastructure in the cloud in a few minutes, as many have already done. Where does this leave the traditional IT and IS administrators and their current skills?

Data backup and recovery skills translate to the cloud

While you might think the cloud has abstracted many of the day-to-day tactical functions of administrators into easy click-and-deploy features, many deeper aspects remain unaddressed. Cloud utilization still requires the historic knowledge that traditional administration functions have learned working with the business, specifically around their data. Operating in a cloud requires:

  •         Planning and migration to the cloud be performed in a secure and optimized manner
  •         Consideration of design, provisioning and automation to avoid performing repeated single-threaded tasks
  •         Data governance, which drives security, identity, ownership and compliance

Just as cloud allows an organization to elevate its operational focus closer to the core of its business, the cloud provides an opportunity for administrators to elevate their skills from ‘doing’ to ‘designing.’ You now have the opportunity to design your use of the cloud to adopt to the needs of the business.

The cloud requires a consolidation and evolution of traditional core day-to-day systems administration into a design role that is focused on the:

  • Movement of business data to/across/from cloud
  • Management of that data in the cloud
  • Effective usage of data within the cloud

These cloud data management skills are extremely important for several reasons:

  1. To drive ROI expected from cloud: Someone must monitor, manage and control the use of cloud resources to avoid sticker shock bills at the end of the month.
  2. Data governance: Data availability usability, integrity and security of data needs to be managed so the business won’t be into an unforeseen risk situation in the cloud.
  3. Alignment with business outcomes: As the business becomes more agile and flexible, aligning the cloud technology capabilities to meet business desires (and not the other way around) means pushing the cloud technologies to their limits without breaking the first two above.
  4. Managing data gaps: One should understand the gaps that exist today in the current cloud platform. Fill those gaps with proven technologies and platforms that complement cloud capabilities so business can enjoy cloud benefits without sacrificing on-premises risk mitigation. In other words, have your cake and eat it, too.

The cloud affords the opportunity for administrators to finally give up those nagging tasks – server build, zone changes, moving VMs across servers and monitoring backup and restore job success. With cloud, you can focus on understanding the business and its data requirements. This knowledge helps you select the correct tools (and maybe the correct cloud platforms) for the data function at hand. Then you can apply the principles gathered from years of systems administration in an agile landscape – to deliver to the business a service level that would otherwise have been too difficult or costly to achieve on-premises. This means selecting the correct compute, storage, network, security and services to get the business requirement completed without wasting cloud resources. In addition, you will know when and how to move data and workloads. It will also help ensure that the business is resilient, despite any cloud hiccups.

So to my fellow backup administrators particularly, the cloud is the opportunity to finally shed yourself of remedial tasks, such as chasing daily backups and restores success percentages in those archaic software packages. Cloud gives you an opportunity to select a cloud data management platform that focuses on reducing risks and costs associated with movement to the cloud. You will be able to activate cloud data quickly for new business use cases. What’s more, you’ll also still provide SLA-based data protection and management regardless of cloud provider to satisfy business governance. It is a chance to re-invent yourself as your company’s cloud data management professional.

Learn more about Commvault’s Cloud Data Management and how a comprehensive data platform can help you be more strategic.