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Around the globe, an audible sigh of relief was heard as we entered a new year and left 2020 behind for the history books. Last year’s focus on crisis management and uncertainty due to the global COVID-19 pandemic made long-term thinking difficult, and only the most agile organizations survived, much less thrived. But in 2021, while there are still many unknowns and continued economic challenges, businesses can at least get a glimpse of a potential recovery stage on the horizon. Planning for the mid- and long-term goals can finally be considered again.
What does this mean for technology leaders? Is it too soon to hone in on a semblance of business normalcy? I believe that we can indeed refocus on some core industry priorities that remain, despite the fact that the pandemic has ramped up the pace of change, forever revising work culture and solidifying digital transformation’s role.
Data Strategy – in terms of how companies manage their data protection and mobility – is perhaps the most important basic priority. Here are my top 2021 predictions in this arena:
Data Protection Strategy Will Become as Much About Mindset as About Spend
The coming year is hardly unique in its need to prioritize data protection. Between now-routine ransomware attacks and hacking scandals, no organization of any size is immune from worrying about how to better safeguard the company “jewels” that consist of critical business and customer information.
The level and sophistication of current ransomware attacks continues to increase and targets private companies as well as government organizations and universities. If you recall the 2020 attack on Travelex, it resulted in significant business disruption plus a $2.3 million payout to the hackers. Soon after, the facilities company ISS World fell victim to another giant ransomware attack that left 43,000 staff without email access; rebuild costs were estimated in the tens of millions.
Cybersecurity Ventures has predicted that in 2021, global cybercrime damages will total $6 trillion. With that in mind, leaders who act too slowly in moving data protection to the top of their agenda will regret their lack of attention to it once a major breach occurs. This is why I believe in 2021, industry leaders will start to recognize that data protection strategy isn’t just about tech investment – it’s also about mindset.
As CIOs and CISOs plan their storage and backup strategies this year, their approach must become “unbreakable” to increase protection against attack, and also help victims recover in the event of a successful attack. Businesses must place equal priority on prevention and recovery, recognizing that breaches and attacks can happen to any organization, rather than hoping it doesn’t happen to them. I predict that 2021 will be the year IT leadership recognizes that access to immutable copies of critical unstructured data and immutable backups are essential protection from cyberthieves.
Data Mobility Will Rise in Priority
A second trend to watch for this year is a result of more enterprises expecting a greater return on their data investment. As organizational infrastructure becomes increasingly complex, data mobility becomes more challenging. Companies that can’t migrate data quickly, safely, and cost-effectively risk hurting wider IT projects and hampering their ability to maximize their data’s value.
As a result, look for data mobility to climb the priority list of IT leaders and data center professionals. This becomes even more important as teams increasingly integrate their existing infrastructure with multi-cloud providers. More companies will begin to employ solutions that allow for data to move seamlessly across different environments, whether on-premises, remote, or cloud. No longer will the complexity traditionally associated with data migration rule the day.
Regardless of the location that enterprises choose to store data, effective data mobility will offer a way to move data back and forth from any third party’s cloud, tape, or storage array. Delivering data wherever it’s needed helps companies eliminate data silos and boost productivity while building another important layer of data protection.
While there’s certainly no guarantee of how the year will unfold, if the best should happen and 2021 ultimately moves us all closer to business as usual in a post-pandemic environment, organizations with the right data protection mindset and prioritization of data mobility will be in a competitive position for the years ahead.