News/Trends, Tech/Engineering

Converged Data Protection: Enabling the Lifecycle of Business Data

Jaspreet Singh, Founder and CEO

All too often, businesses store their data in separate tech silos and never think to draw connections, re-use the data, or drive business value from it. Storage is a depreciating asset, but data is the core of your business and an appreciating asset. That means your company is missing important opportunities.

Information – even in its raw state as “data” – has a lifecycle. It’s created, collected, visualized, highlighted, correlated. It’s stored, retrieved, audited, logged. Eventually, perhaps, data is disposed of: wiped, deleted, archived. At every stop along that journey, the data has some kind of business value beyond the need to simply “protect” it – and too often, in my opinion, organizations fail to make use of the information they already own.

Business data should be leveraged, not buried. It deserves to be used and exploited from the time it’s created to the point where the data is archived or destroyed.

Druva established its lauded reputation by protecting enterprise data. You know us as experts in the data archival and protection realm, with Druva inSync enabling more than 3,000 enterprise customers to backup and restore their data. The company has quietly (or, I hope, not-so-quietly) added features that give the software more power to serve that business data elsewhere in its lifecycle, such as helping a company’s attorneys put a legal hold on employee data and ensuring that the enterprise complies with government privacy regulations.

But that’s just the start. We see an emerging trend in the convergence of data across business silos – enabled by the cloud – which provides new opportunities for exploration with the data we create and collect. At every point in the data lifecycle there are opportunities for a business to look at data in different ways and for different reasons. And as tool providers, we at Druva aim to help organizations protect and manage that data cleanly, securely, and privately.

The exercise starts at the end of the story: where the data is stored and archived. That’s important, because if you can’t keep and recover data you can’t do anything else with it.

Beyond Backup

However, I think backup itself is a 1990s problem. Its reliability, efficiency, and performance always can be improved (and we’re very proud of our accomplishments in that area, such as our two-factor encryption and data deduplication) but ultimately that specialty is like building a safe-deposit box which you never open again. Organizations have an opportunity to do far more with the data they already own and collect, and our business is expanding to address more of those challenges.

Technology sometimes evolves along parallel paths, each doing its best to solve a single problem that in reality overlaps with other problems. For example, the  different use cases for backup and archival storage use different technologies to process same data. We in IT are very used to that phenomenon, and we pay a premium for maintaining multiple silos. But, given the tech advancements especially in the cloud, we can combine the use cases, and converge data protection processes into a single path.

The Rise of Corporate Memory

It’s important for us all to grasp the value of business data as a time-indexed view of company status and how people interact. Archived data – converged from all its sources – is (or should be) a chronological record of events that is searchable, analyzable, and reusable. Data should be leveraged to build a future for each organization – and not only when it’s in datasets so large that we focus on their size rather than their composition.

At the top of the innovation possibilities are options in the areas of:

  •      Data governance, particularly in legal domains such as e-discovery and data disposition
  •      Deep data mining for compliance and audit reasons
  •      Data archival and search
  •      A knowledge repository for intellectual property

Critical Building Blocks of a Converged Architecture

That goal has been around for a long time, of course. But previously, legacy technology limitations meant software was designed to deliver only a single value. Backup was built for tapes, and its serial layout didn’t support the clean search needed for archival purposes.

However, today’s technology give enterprises interesting new ways to leverage the data that wasn’t always quite at-their-fingertips. Top on the list of enabling technologies is cloud computing, which provides anytime-anywhere data access and control at blistering speeds. The computer industry has also gotten better at other computer science challenges that enable this kind of converged data management, such as:

  •      Foolproof data collection processes
  •      Data storage time-indexed or chronological order
  •      Deduplication to build structure
  •      Separation of data and metadata, so that you can re-use information
  •      Lower costs for long term data preservation

This isn’t a done deal yet. The industry has yet to work out all the kinks in the process, such as keeping an eye on the cost of preserving data; algorithms for data mining and availability (since old school backup and archives were built for tapes); and the ever-present data privacy and security issues (to make sure the access stays in the right hands).

Druva expects to be in the forefront of this journey. Sure, it’s a heady challenge. But we see opportunity for enterprise organizations to improve their converged data protection, we recognize the technology to help them achieve it, and we see the benefits ahead.