2020 was a unique year for everyone, and business was no exception. External pressures unknown to our generation have forever changed the IT landscape, creating new challenges for all. Veeam’s recent Data Protection Report 2021 looked into a survey of more than 203 unbiased government agencies worldwide to understand how they approached data protection and management today, and future trends. The results provide key insight into how this data can help you with your own IT challenges when tackling modern data protection.
While fundamental economics like TCO and ROI are universally applicable, Public Sector uses different measures than “profitability” when considering the ramifications of downtime or data loss. Ironically, some of the most common causes of outages (server and storage hardware) were more frequent among public sector respondents than in the private sector. This is presumably due to non-profit-based organizations’ pressures to utilize legacy infrastructure even longer than initially planned (and far longer than profit-based organizations typically do).
• Public Sector needs reliability (at 18%) even more than global (at 12%) results combined with a need to consolidate (15% for Public Sector vs. 6% globally). They need it to work the first time, reduce tools and drive operational outcomes.
• Reducing costs by alternative IT models is notably higher than the global average (13% for Public Sector vs. 8% globally).
• A hybrid cloud approach is essential because there’s a lot of data that can’t be taken off-prem right now. Moving to commercial clouds is a consistent story across all top verticals, however slower for Public Sector, likely due to the political timeline (78% for Public Sector vs. 91% globally).
• Server and storage hardware outages are disproportionately more frequent than the global data (Server hardware outage at 18% for Public Sector compared to 12% globally, and storage hardware outage is 14% for Public Sector compared to 8% globally). Public Sector is running legacy hardware longer, trying to get a little bit more shelf life.
Challenges for the year ahead
2020 changed the landscape of IT. Economic uncertainty is undoubtedly topping the list of anticipated challenges in 2021 as reported by 49% of agencies worldwide, which is up from 11% globally from the previous year. Including growth in meeting changing customer needs, it confirms much of what we expect. Businesses are laser-focused on driving growth while ensuring they exceed customer expectations. This is putting more pressure on data protection, as in times of business stress, business continuity becomes hyper-important, and that rests on having a strong data protection solution
The effect of COVID COVID-19 also had an extraordinary effect on Digital Transformation (DX) efforts. In many cases, you would expect DX plans to slow down due to the reallocation of efforts, and in 31% of agencies, that is precisely what happened. But there was also a massive increase in DX speed, with 47% of agencies accelerating their DX initiatives. agencies with mature DX plans accelerated their investments, however, the companies that have less mature efforts tended to pause to focus on sustainability.
What will 2021 bring to IT strategy? The results show a massive investment change in IT delivery. In fact, only 15% of agencies surveyed were not anticipating any significant changes in 2021.
In the first months of the pandemic, 78% of agencies increased their cloud services usage (23%) significantly. This came from remote workers using SaaS-based collaboration services and the increased challenge for IT to maintain on-prem, physical operations. This trend will continue through 2021, with most agencies planning to add more cloud services and cloud usage to IT delivery strategy.
The reality gap
The increased focus on modern and cloud-based services has a major impact on data protection trends for IT delivery practices. Inadequate backup or failure to meet SLAs topped the global data protection challenges for 2021 at 40% (up from 31% in 2019), beating out all other metrics. As systems are aggressively turning to cloud and modern services, backup failure rates due to legacy systems increase IT’s pressure to resolve.
To understand this impact even more, we asked customers a simple question: Does your agency have a gap between how fast you can recover applications versus how quickly you need applications to be recovered. 69% of all agencies recognized that they have an “Availability Gap” between how fast they can recover applications versus how fast they need applications to be recovered. As a follow-up, 67% of those same agencies said they have a “Protection Gap” between how frequently data is backed up versus how much data they can afford to lose.
Those results tell us one simple thing; there is a reality gap in most agencies between business and IT. Today’s legacy data protection systems are letting down the company, and something needs to change. When asked about the catalyst for change, 27% of respondents said to move to cloud based data protection, 41% to improve backup reliability, and 21% to improve RPO/RTO SLAs.
What is the reason behind the need to improve RPO/RTO SLAs and backup reliability? On average, 20% of servers had at least one expected outage in the last 12 months (with 33% of agencies stating up to 50% of their servers had at least one outage). Any unexpected downtime means potential data loss, and if adequate backup processes are not in place, data loss could be permanent.
But I can still protect my data, even with legacy backup, right?
There continues to be a misperception that even with legacy data protection, the basics are still covered — the backup and recovery of essential data and applications. This could not be further from the truth. With current legacy backup, there remains a lack of core functionality to provide backup and recovery capabilities.
On average, 43% of the time, agencies showed that their backup jobs ended up with errors or could not complete in their allocated backup window. That means potentially nearly half of all backups may not be restorable. The research also showed that over one-third (39%) of all restorations fail to restore within the expected SLA.
What does this all mean? It means that with current legacy data protection, only 57% of backups will be successful AND 61% of restores will be successful, and ultimately, you’ll be able to recover less than half of the time (35%)
Modern data protection to the rescue
The need for modern data protection now feels more pressing than ever. With the acceleration of cloud and modern delivery practices and the reality of backup and restoration issues with legacy backup, modern data protection is now necessary. But what is it, according to the agencies needing it? According to the 203 participants who took part in the research, integrated data protection and security (42%), cloud workload portability (39%), and the ability to migrate to the cloud (35%) top the list.
Clearly, modern data protection needs to support the vast diversity of agencies’ IT platforms (cloud, SaaS, virtual, physical), make data safe, accessible, and usable for purposes such as DevOps and analytics, and ultimately enable consistent and unified data protection.