The 30,000-foot view of IT operations shows a complex web of pervasive challenges, technology innovations, and third-party actors impacting current and future activities. Everything from cybersecurity threats and automation to data growth and cloud transformations are regular topics that make “Top Trends” reports.
To what degree are these dynamics impacting backup operations? We set out to find out.
We commissioned a survey of over 260 IT professionals responsible for managing or influencing backup operations. The results showed that while traditional backup monitoring challenges continue to plague backup professionals, these new issues are also impacting the category.
This paints a challenging picture for backup monitoring and management, and sheds light on key issues backup professionals must address to fully prepare for future data protection needs.
- Backup environment heterogeneity and data volume growth will continue driving backup monitoring difficulties. Securing data across backup applications is the backup management challenge most-cited by backup professionals, followed by protecting growing data volume.
- The shift to cloud-dominant backup operations is coming. Backup professionals expect over 60% of their operations to transition to the cloud within three years. This dynamic is likely leading to backup professionals citing cloud backup oversight as a top backup management concern.
- Automation is lagging in the backup management category…but on the horizon. Nearly two-thirds of backup professionals report zero automation applied to recurring backup management activities. But nearly 50% anticipate at least some automation implementation over the next two years.
- Organizations are putting more resources into backup operations. More than 50% of backup professionals report headcount and budget growth allocated to backup and data protection over the course of the past several years.
- Backup operations will become more closely tied to cybersecurity. 47% of backup professionals expect greater incorporation of backup monitoring within cybersecurity programs. This makes it the number one trend they anticipate impacting their category in the next 3-5 years.
IT professionals managing backup operations report a wide array of daily challenges. The most common daily challenges today are consistent with the issues voiced years ago.
Nearly half of backup professionals cite concerns over complete asset protection. Meanwhile, protecting growing data volume (45%) as well as visibility into storage costs (43%) and storage usage (42%) are frequent challenges as well.
Yet, when asked about the number one backup operations management challenge, the picture shifts. Protecting growing data volume (15%) is a top concern, but it’s behind securing backup data across applications (17%). Further, implementing cloud backup oversight (14%) comes in at a close third.
In essence, traditional backup operations challenges like environment heterogeneity and data volume growth are still pressing issues. However, cloud backup oversight is now in the mix as well, a product of upcoming or in-progress cloud transformations.
A likely culprit behind many of these challenges is the lack of automation across backup management activities. Or, said another way, the continued reliance on manual activities in increasingly complex environments.
Backup professionals were asked about the state of automation across many typical backup activities spanning from monitoring backups across applications to unprotected asset identification and unusual activity alerting. Nearly two-thirds of backup professionals report zero automation in any of these activities.
Yet, automation is coming. Approximately 50% of backup professionals anticipate at least some automation implementation. The top choice for automation is backup failure remediation (54%). Meanwhile, automating compliance / SLA reporting (47%), identifying unprotected assets (47%), and creating backup failure incidents (44%) are also areas of automation interest.
Automation is not the only thing on backup professionals’ horizon. So are cloud transformations. While just over half of backup operations take place on-prem today, backup professionals expect over 60% of these operations to move to the cloud within the next three years.
This aligns to one of the top-three backup monitoring challenges also uncovered in this research: backup oversight in the cloud. As organizations transition to cloud-only or hybrid-cloud environments, there is an acknowledged need that backup oversight must transition as well.
Notably, these aren’t the only impending backup operations changes. When asked about trends they see impacting their category over the next three to five years, backup professionals note a wide variety of issues. 47% expect greater incorporation of backup monitoring within cybersecurity programs. Meanwhile, 42% anticipate greater endpoint backup requirements, a trend that emerged strongly during the COVID crisis.
Interestingly, there’s tension in place when it comes to managing multiple backup applications. 39% of backup professionals see a future trend toward better management of expanding backup applications, the same number that see a trend toward reducing the number of backup applications in use. While some seem to argue for consolidation, others argue for acceptance and better management of complexity.
Thankfully, as complexity is increasing, resource allocation is shifting too. Backup professionals report budget and headcount growth compared to three years ago. This is a significant signal that organizations are placing greater importance on these activities and are positioning teams to better adapt to this shifting backup landscape.
The backup category today is extremely dynamic. The major technology trends impacting IT organizations holistically—cloud transformations, cybersecurity, data growth, and automation—are just as prevalent within backup operations. However, the way they intersect is unique to the data protection category.
Backup professionals will be expected to manage growing data volumes across cloud applications, adding to the already difficult task of managing backup application complexity. Additionally, the inclusion of endpoint backups will only exacerbate the existing challenge to ensure that all data is completely backed up and protected from cybercriminals.
In essence, backup operations are not getting simpler. Instead, the number of moving pieces is growing. As organizations look to juggle these complexities, they will need solutions that centralize data protection oversight and streamline recurring activities. Failing to do so will leave teams scrambling to manage data protection activities and will likely result in critical data left unprotected.
Bocada commissioned a global, survey-based research study of 260 global IT professionals. Data collection and data analysis was completed by PlanBeyond, an independent market research company.
All respondents were responsible for managing and/or influencing backup operations within their organization. Respondents were recruited via a mix of channels including direct social media outreach and existing contact databases. Respondents’ professional background was vetted through LinkedIn profiles to verify their professional background. Responses were collected in June 2022 via a series of single-select and multi-select closed end questions. Where appropriate, answer choices were randomized to avoid order bias.
Bocada delivers backup reporting and monitoring automation solutions for complete visibility into backup performance. The Bocada platform simplifies complex backup and storage oversight, allowing IT organizations to save time, reduce overhead costs, and decrease data protection risks. With the largest installed customer base in the Fortune 500, Bocada is the world’s leading provider of backup reporting automation.
More information is available at www.bocada.com