A little over a year and a half ago, I completed an evaluation of data resiliency vendors, published as “The Forrester Wave™: Data Resiliency Solutions, Q3 2017.” I gleaned many insights from the assessment process as I spoke with vendors about their offerings and road map and with end users about their successes and challenges. As a result, I identified some issues that data protection solutions were still reeling under:

  • Data protection operates within its silo.
  • Data protection tools do not leverage the developments in the industry at large.

My first reaction was: “When will the backup industry come out of the Stone Age?” In the age of big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, backup tools remain very old-school. It’s my responsibility to share what I believe will reinvigorate the backup solutions market. From the four ideas I highlighted in the above report, two are worth revisiting:

  1. Use analytics to drive intelligence and improve backup operations. Almost every firm I engage has no idea if their backup operations pass or fail. Success is a mystery until it comes to recovery operations — the point at which many I&O pros learn a sorry lesson. They have no idea of the changes they could introduce to ensure that mission-critical apps and data have a higher protection priority than others. That means analyzing all KPIs from historical jobs, tasks, and policies and learning from historical successes and failures. Tuning backup infrastructure means significant changes in policies, schedules, methodologies, technology, and storage targets. It should apply the Agile application development model to backup management. This was a hard pill to swallow for backup vendors lacking the vision to improve their solutions with data analytics.
  2. Offer insights to users about application recoverability. Recovery is the reason a backup solution exists; a backup is only as good as its ability to recover. Business owners look at recoverability of applications, not just data. So instead of looking at metrics that say “99% of data is backed up,” I&O pros should look at how to recover their applications. A high percentage of them still don’t look at it that way. I published this idea in my report on the recovery readiness view. Every time I prompt my clients, their “Aha!” moment is loud and clear. Their next questions are how to do this and which tool to use. Coming back to the evaluation, one of my questions was whether the tool can provide visibility into how recoverable an environment is. As you can imagine, the answer was a big “No.”

Since the publication of the Wave, I have worked with almost all of the vendors evaluated and witnessed their developments. I am glad that a few (most notably, Commvault) are leading the way and aligning themselves to such improvements. It’s clearly early days; there’s much more to come. I strongly believe that the “data resiliency” market is poised for significant change and am writing several more reports on this topic. Stay tuned. I’m always eager to hear your experiences — and if I can help you do better, I’ll consider my job well done. 😊