The Decentralization of Data Protection Continues

For the past few years, we’ve continued to watch workload-administrators and IT Operations folks raise their influence in regard to which data protection product(s) are in use today. It’s actually quite reasonable: those IT professionals are responsible for the usability of their platforms and have unique understandings of how and which data should be protected – so their opinions matter!

ESG explored this topic in great detail in our Data Protection Personas and Methods research report.

We’ve summarized some of the findings in a free Analyst Brief on the Decentralization of Data Protection.

Here is a short video to keep the conversation going:

Overall, I expect the trend to recede somewhat, only because we are finally starting to see data protection technologies that are so workload-optimized that the workload-owners may not feel as encumbered to intercede in ensuring a reliable backup or recovery. Instead, the next generation of truly workload-savvy data protection tools will likely result in what we should have been doing all along: collaborative data protection strategy and execution, where data protection specialists’ long-term understanding, workload-owners’ data awareness and IT Operations’ mandates on productivity assuredness come together.

Data protection personas Venn diagram

As always, thanks for watching.

Video Transcript

Hi. I’m Jason Buffington. I’m the Senior Analyst at ESG covering data protection. There was a time when those developing or selling a data protection strategy could afford to take a myopic view of their world. There was only one perspective to consider, that of the backup administrator. But today, that kind of tunnel vision seems well, a little short-sighted. These days, it’s the systems administrator and the IT pros tasked with server or platform management that perform a majority of the data protection activities. And with increasing regularity, they’re the ones making protection-related decisions, especially in larger organizations.

According to ESG research, IT operations folks who are responsible for most other aspects of daily data center operation are the group most likely to conduct data protection responsibilities, followed by backup admins, data and platform administrators. Each group has its own unique lens that really is necessary for modern data protection. The workload owners, such as database administrators or V-Admins, they know the data and how it and the underlying platform should be protected and recovered. IT operations folks know the infrastructure and the business requirements. Backup administrators understand the data protection tools and processes and which compliant-specific requirements that the organization as a whole is subject to.

But it’s not just technologists that are taking on a more diversified role within data protection. Non-IT folks, those who depend on the data and are the primary beneficiaries of all these efforts are also becoming more involved in the evaluation and purchase process. And they see things a little differently than their IT counterparts. Blurring lines even further is the fact that involvement may also vary based on the hierarchy within the IT org. Everyone from the systems administrator to the CIO may have some level of influence or interest in modern data protection strategy. ESG found that the primary influencer group is likely to change at each stage along the data protection lifecycle, from who is introducing new data protection technologies to who it evaluates or implements, who would be purchasing versus who would manage it on an ongoing basis. And it’s only by taking all of those viewpoints into account that a comprehensive data protection strategy or vision can really be developed.

If you’re an IT professional, you need to talk to your IT colleagues, to the business stakeholders, to the compliance representatives and to senior decision makers as they will almost assuredly have insights on how little or much protection or agility that each platform requires. And those are insights that you don’t have, but will surely affect your data protection strategy. If you are an IT vendor selling data protection technologies, you have to broaden your story and your messaging strategy to expand beyond pitching products to just the backup admin alone. The approach for considering, deploying and operating a data protection product is now marked by diversity. And those vendors who fail to take this into account will continue to be surprised that the backup admins love to talk about their stuff, but the organization just doesn’t seem to buy anything.

So, make sure you have feature-level information to give to the backup admin. You also need workload-specific information for the workload owner. How does your product specifically work with databases in the language of DBAs? Or how does a protector recover VMs in the taxonomy of the VM? You also need to have operational and economic information for the IT execs. How will your product save money over the status quo and over the competitors? This does not mean that you need to go and build another simplistic ROI calculator, but it does mean that you need to really quantify and over-communicate the economic value of the complete solution.

And for the business units and compliance teams, the assurance that backup and recovery SLAs are being met is going to be needed through better visibility and better monitoring. You don’t need an eye chart to see that we need to stop looking at data protection through a narrow focused rose-colored glasses. Whether you’re an IT professional trying to implement a solution or a technology vendor trying to sell one, you need to involve a broader team of influencers than ever before. Otherwise, your data protection technology implementation or sale can fall short, leaving you with the worst kind of vision of all, hindsight.

[Originally blogged via ESG’s Technical]

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