How do fast-moving digital businesses keep up with their customers and still maintain adequate data protection?
Actually, some of them don’t.
Sure, they keep up with their customers because that’s how they survive. But data protection has never been especially glamorous, and when you’re growing fast, it’s likely to fall to the bottom of your priority list.
In my previous post I described how IT trends in slow-growing companies sound the data protection wake-up call. In this post I look at trends at the other end of the spectrum: the ones that serve to remind fast-moving companies that there are always new sources of data to protect and new ways to protect it.
In the same way that digital business is being conducted in the cloud, it is also going to application programming interfaces (APIs) that move data like physical goods in a shipping container. The API in Product A ships a bit of data to an API that pulls it into Product B, which combines and operates on it, then generates a third set of data. Whether that data takes the form of a spreadsheet, a text file or an entire database table, it has its own, new value to the business. That means that it’s worth backing up.
Think about it in terms of an analytics package running on one database that you then connect with three, five or ten other databases. The result is a new set of data. All the records exist in their source databases, but at the point where they connect, you now have new data that is the analysis of multiple databases for a specific purpose.
Data like this will be the bread and butter of digital business. It will be annoying to have to regenerate it if it is lost, deleted or corrupted. But is the enterprise thinking about backing it up? Is it part of a data protection strategy yet? Not that I’ve seen.
Worse yet, the new data may be unstructured. If your thinking and your data protection assume structured data and databases, then as soon as analytics becomes popular for reporting and other purposes in your organization, you have to protect the resulting data differently from anything you’re currently protecting.
The Internet of Me
The Internet of Things is bringing us big data, and the Internet of Me is bringing us fast data.
The Internet of me, a term coined by Accenture, embodies user expectations about how they want to conduct business. The trend is toward an entire internet and digital environment that surrounds users, is all about them and answers their questions immediately. Here are a few use cases:
- Do you ever go past the first page of search results? Few people do these days. “Never,” they tell you. “In fact, I don’t even go past the middle of the first page.” The search engines know this, of course, and they know that they will slide into irrelevance if they don’t figure out who you are and how you search, then give you that search experience quickly every time.
- Look at the emergence of the SMACK (Spark, Mesos, Akka, Cassandra and Kafka) stack, aimed at solving fast data problems. They and their ilk are open source projects you can connect and configure for quick answers to simple questions like “Who sells the best pizza around here?” and “Can I trust this guy to pay the rent on time?”
- Large populations of customers, prospects and users – particularly young people, I suppose – have reached the point where they would rather interact with businesses digitally than with someone in person. My generation will put up with “Your call is very important to us...” but young people won’t, and I don’t blame them. My college-age daughters know how to set up dormitory assignments and find compatible roommates entirely online, without budging a vocal cord. One of them had to contact an admission counselor last week. "Do I need to call her?” she complained. “Can’t I email her? Where can I get her cell number so I can text her?" The final victory of fast data will come when users can get all their problems solved with a few taps or a chat bot instead of with a human-to-human conversation.
There’s no great need to back up and protect every byte that goes into and comes out of the Internet of Me, but it’s important to save the configuration data, settings and preferences on which the user experience depends.
Changes in production mean changes in protection – New white paper
Whether the data is big or fast or both, it needs protection. In Dell’s experience, few digital businesses have heard or responded to that wake-up call yet.
Businesses that move fast change their production models fast. We’ve published a white paper called “When You Make Changes in Production, Don’t Forget to Make Changes in Data Protection” that explores the IT trends shaping backup and the places your users and customers are generating new data. Read the paper for more ways you can keep up with them.