#ILLUMINATE15 Speaker Spotlight: Jason Buffington of ESG

With Druva’s first-ever user conference, ILLUMINATE15around the corner, we met with keynote speaker Jason Buffington, data protection analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), about his thoughts on data protection trends, how the cloud impacts data governance, and why he’s excited about ILLUMINATE15, Druva’s first user conference.

It’s never been more important for businesses to understand what data they have, and to make sure they hold on to the right data for the right length of time (Tweet this)— no more or less than that. – Jason Buffington, ESG

What are some of the top technology trends you see today that allow businesses to better govern their data?

There is a growing trend around the fact that you can’t afford to hold everything. Businesses used to make all these discriminate copies for different purposes, but based on the scale of storage today, you just can’t do that anymore. Today different business, technology, and industry drivers are forcing us to take a smarter look at what we are actually storing and then make better choices about the creation and deletion of it.

What challenges do businesses face when it comes to protecting their data?

One of the biggest challenges today is the disconnectedness between the people who use the data, the people who are the custodians of the data, and the people who are the administrators of the platforms where the data resides. Usually, the disconnectedness indicates a lack of cultural innovation. Managing technology innovation is pretty straightforward, but organizations are often hindered culturally because different groups don’t talk to each other well enough, and even if they did, they don’t have a “common language.” The first step to beating that gap is getting in the same room on a regular basis.

Are there any technology innovations that you see helping businesses better govern data over the next five years?

One of the things I’m seeing on the technology side is almost a renaissance among the data protection vendors regarding understanding that they need to have contextual awareness of the data they’re protecting.  I’ve been in the data protection industry for more than 25 years, and for most of that time, people just backed up data based on the drive, folder, volume, app, whatever. Right now we’re seeing a lot of vendors recognizing that data should not be protected based purely on the container it’s stored in – it should be protected based on the value of the data. (Tweet this) The technology innovations we’re seeing related to cataloging and indexing and gathering of metadata are all going to help businesses be smarter about what it is they are protecting and storing.

How do you see the cloud impacting how organizations are protecting and governing their data?

You can’t have an IT modernization or transformation conversation that doesn’t include the cloud. (Tweet this) Now, of course the problem is that we’re not talking about THE cloud or A cloud, but rather about cloud-based services as a different paradigm for how IT is delivered. There are a lot of different clouds and all of them, collectively I think, are driving mainstream IT out of the building.

What are the sort of trends you’re observing in how companies are adopting the cloud?

Data protection is trend number 1. Improving backup is the number-one use case for infrastructure as a service (IaaS), followed by business continuity and disaster recovery preparedness (BC/DR). We’re also seeing that organizations are ready to move primary services like email, file collaboration, and CRM systems to the cloud. People are discovering that, even if the dollars are exactly equal between how much it would cost to provide a service onsite versus how much it would cost to do it in the cloud, a solution provider operating at scale with dedicated expertise and very focused service delivery arguable delivers a better quality of service than what most IT organizations could pull off on their own.

So whether it’s these traditional IT services or whether it’s data protection, for many organizations, the biggest part of the cloud is not saving or spending money; it’s about getting better service.

You can’t have an IT modernization or transformation conversation that doesn’t include the cloud. – Jason Buffington, ESG

On a more general note, what sort of things should IT pros consider to make sure they are adding value in their roles and becoming successful?

IT staff need to be very clear on what is strategic versus what is repetitive and tactical. Strategy development for some big aspects of IT require understanding the needs of the business units as well as the culture of the organization at large.  And then there’s a lot of tactical stuff that you have to do in order to make the big stuff happen. The most important advice I can give to someone in an IT role is, “Your job is not going to go away because you’re using the cloud; your job will go away if the majority of your time is spent on tactical functions. As long as you’re doing the strategic things or adding value to strategic initiatives, your job only gets more important. And the only way you’re going to have time to do those strategic things is if you are able to get out of doing the tactical ones.”

Is there any advice you would give an IT professional today?

First, make sure they come to my session at ILLUMINATE15 because there’s going to be huge pearls of wisdom. 

Beyond that, the big thing that I would tell an IT professional, especially someone who is in any way chartered with data protection, is to stop necessarily looking for “the one ring to rule them all.” Most organizations today will have a combination of multiple backup technologies plus some replication and snapshot technologies, plus some type of integration directly with primary workloads. You’re going to have a heterogeneous data protection architecture. Just plan on that.

What are you most looking forward to at ILLUMINATE15?

Whenever I go to a conference, I look forward to sitting quietly in as many sessions as possible, because I never know when I’m going to hear something that’s from a different perspective that makes me think differently.

I’m also looking forward to the side conversations (direct and eavesdropping) at the coffee bar, at the lunch table, because that’s where I get to hear how folks are reacting to what they heard on the stage. This is where I can actually see change happen,  and I always learn as much as I hopefully contribute during the side conversations.

ILLUMINATE15 takes place October 12-14, 2015 at The Hotel Valencia in San Jose. Are you a Druva customer? Register today to join the discussion with Jason and other industry experts on the future of data governance.

Interested in more insights from ESG? Read their latest research brief Endpoint Device Trends in 2015. Download now.