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3 Predictions for the Data Protection Industry in 2013

Agile data protection, backup and recovery appliances, and vendors as business partners will take on greater importance this year.

Over the past few years, we've seen virtualization and cloud computing bring new life to the backup and recovery market. As such, the traditional data protection model has evolved, and we should see this paradigm shift and expand further in 2013. While The possibilities are endless, but here are three trends that I believe will shake up the data backup and recovery industry this coming year.

#1: Demand for data protection that adapts to agile IT environments will increase
IT professionals across industries are increasingly being forced to do more with less. As a result, when it comes to backup and recovery, they are becoming increasingly wary of data protection vendors that pigeon hole them into rigid IT infrastructures. For example, some vendors offer Windows-only backup solutions, others provide only a portfolio of on-premise appliances, and others still, as we are seeing today, focus solely on virtualization software -- forcing companies to commit to an on-premise or virtual environment.

Customers who decide they want to create a hybrid infrastructure or incorporate cloud computing offerings down the road are forced to either deploy multiple point solutions to protect their environments or switch to a more holistic vendor altogether -- wasting resource-constrained IT departments' valuable time and money. Compounding the problem, many data protection vendors today fail to embrace heterogeneity at the server, operating system, hypervisor, application, networking, storage, and other levels -- further limiting the scalability and flexibility of customers' infrastructure.

In 2013, we will see a growing demand for data protection solutions that adapt to existing IT infrastructures instead of requiring IT infrastructures to adapt to them. Different technologies have different advantages in certain deployments, and customers should have the ability to configure their data backup and recovery solutions based on the specific needs of their environment.

The job of IT is to keep operations running smoothly, deliver business value, and create a winning competitive advantage. As more companies realize the best way to accomplish these goals is to leverage data protection solutions that adapt to the needs of agile IT environments, we will see the demand for these offerings increase rapidly.

#2: Sales of backup and recovery appliances will accelerate.
Although software-only backup and recovery solutions are gaining market share, we will continue to see sales of physical and virtual appliances increase in 2013.

We've already discussed the challenges faced by today's IT departments, and, when it comes to backup and recovery, vendors are realizing that the only way to deliver faster time-to-value, lower total cost of ownership, predictable performance and scale-out architectures is through physical or virtual appliances. Appliances embody the shrink-wrapped solution IT is looking for while still boasting enterprise-class features, such as content-aware, byte-level deduplication and on- and off-host instant recovery (failover virtualization) -- -- providing IT with comprehensive data protection at a price point and level of simplicity that meets their requirements.

One thing I'm often asked is why backup appliances haven't been embraced by all vendors. The reason is economic.: It's much more profitable for vendors to push the integration, management, and monitoring of data protection to the buyer, but, as evidenced by the sharp growth rate of the backup appliance market, buyers are increasingly catching on to this practice.

Does that mean software-only deployments will die? Absolutely not, -- but they will be transformed. In addition to physical backup appliances, expect to see much higher adoption of all-in-one virtual backup appliances based on VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and other hypervisors that offer the traditional advantages of a physical backup appliance with the flexible deployment available through virtualization.

#3: Vendors will take on the role of business partner
Recent research from IDC predicts that "over the next decade, the number of servers (virtual and physical) worldwide will grow by a factor of 10, the amount of information managed by enterprise data centers will grow by a factor of 50, and the number of files the data center will have to deal with will grow by a factor of 75, at least. Meanwhile, the number of IT professionals in the world will grow by less than a factor of 1.5."

Yes, data is growing exponentially, and although data protection needs to grow with it, many IT departments don't have the budget to hire the additional resources required to manage their expanding environments. Thus, in 2013, companies will start looking for backup and recovery solution providers that are not just vendors, but partners as well.

Providing unified data protection that integrates core functionality -- on-premise, off-premise, dissimilar bare metal, backup, recovery, replication, archiving, and on- and off-host instant recovery (failover virtualization), and the like -- is only one half of the equation. Companies will begin to put just as much weight on a vendor's ability to grow with them as they do on the offerings themselves. Vendors who offer a data protection strategy that easily and efficiently scales with data growth without requiring additional IT resources will stay ahead of the competition in a crowded marketplace.

About the Author

Dr. Mark Campbell is the chief strategy and technology officer at Unitrends. Prior to joining Unitrends, Mark co-founded mindAmp Corporation, which provided high-technology business and software development consulting. He has also worked as the senior vice president of the systems management business at Legent Corporation, as well as vice president at NCR Corporation.


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