Organizations managed an average of 9.7 petabytes of data in 2018, a 569% spike compared with the 1.45 petabytes they handled in 2016. Most see the value of data, and more are monetizing it, yet very few are confident in their existing tools' ability to properly protect information.
This insight comes from Dell EMC's third "Global Data Protection Index," its most recent since 2016. Researchers polled 2,200 IT decision makers from public and private organizations across 18 countries and industries to learn about the state and maturity of data protection strategies.
What they found is businesses are managing much more data, nearly all (92%) recognize its value, and 36% are monetizing it. Still, most are challenged to secure it, and their attempts may be putting information at risk. More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents say their companies had "some type of disruption" within a 12-month period, and 27% couldn't recover their data using their data protection tools – nearly double the 14% who said the same in 2016.
Coincidentally, 76% of respondents are using at least two data protection vendors, which researchers say makes them 35% more likely to experience disruption during a 12-month time frame than those with a single vendor. The most common types of interference among companies using multiple vendors was unplanned systems downtime (43%), ransomware attacks preventing data access (32%), and loss of information (29%).
"Organizations are valuing data more than ever before," says Ruya Atac-Barrett, vice president of marketing of data protection at Dell EMC. "And that's also driving more focus on how do you ensure availability of data, how do you protect data."
System downtime may be more common, but data loss is more expensive. The businesses that experienced downtime struggled with an average of 20 hours lost in the past year, costing $526,845. Those that lost data lost an average of 2.13 terabytes, which has a price tag of nearly $1 million.
The downside of organizations placing greater value on data is cybercriminals recognize it, says Alex Almeida, consultant and product marketing lead with Dell EMC. "That also increases the risk because bad actors realize how much that data is valued to those businesses, and they try to exploit it," he adds. This realization is driving the frequency of threats, like ransomware attacks.
Data Protection: Complexity and Compliance
The majority of respondents struggle to implement a data protection tool that sufficiently meets their needs, and 95% face at least one challenge related to securing their information.
Their biggest challenge, cited by 46% of respondents, is the complexity of configuring and operating data protection software and hardware, along with the price of storing backup copies. Next up is the lack of data protection for emerging technologies (45%), followed by ensuring compliance with regulations like the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (41%).
"We saw regulation being more of a driver and a catalyst," Atac-Barrett says. Now more so than ever, businesses think about what they need to do from a data management perspective. Only 35% are "very confident" their data protection strategies are compliant with regional regulation.
Then there's the cloud factor: Most (98%) of respondents using the public cloud do so for data protection, the report shows. The top use case for cloud-based data security is backup services, which protect workloads developed in the cloud using new applications (41%), tied with backup of on-prem workloads and data (41%). Forty percent protect specific SaaS applications, and 40% use cloud-enabled versions of on-prem data protection software to protect public cloud workloads.
"Not only are companies trying to protect and make sure data is available, but 98% of organizations are leveraging public cloud as part of their protection strategies," Atac-Barrett adds. Cloud will continue to be important in data security, with 64% of respondents saying scalability is important.
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