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Adapting to change in a virtual world

Editorial Type: Opinion     Date: 01-2014    Views: 2257   

Michiel von der Crone of CommVault examines the need for 'global class computing' - described by Gartner as "an approach to designing systems and architectures that extends computing processes outside the enterprise and into the cultures of the consumer, mobile worker and business partners"

It should come as no surprise that the biggest technological impacts on IT departments in 2013 were Mobile and Big Data. Both issues also dominated conversations in the storage arena last year and with employees now increasingly working remotely, it's highly likely that 2014 will see more and more organisations struggling to manage large volumes of data. Equally challenging will be providing secure access to, and protection of, potentially sensitive but undoubtedly valuable information generated on a growing number of mobile devices.

With approximately one third of the global workforce predicted to be mobile by 2015 (IDC, Worldwide Mobile Worker Population, 2011-2015), it's clear that the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement has created massive market demand for end users to be able to quickly access data from any device and to benefit from collaboration and knowledge sharing regardless of their location.

The mountain of data now residing on mobile devices however is forcing companies to rethink how they securely capture, store and retrieve data in order to derive more value from it - whilst remaining compliant. Indeed, Gartner has recently suggested in its report 'BYOD is an applications strategy, not just a purchasing policy' (November 2013) that what is needed is 'global class' computing - "an approach to designing systems and architectures that extends computing processes outside the enterprise and into the cultures of the consumer, mobile worker and business partners."

That said, it also appears that too few organisations have either devised or implemented comprehensive strategies to support these mobile workers, or are yet to put in place measures to ensure regular backups from mobile devices as a minimum. Protecting access to sensitive data and providing an alternative to storing company data on local or removable devices is critical and needs to be addressed without hesitation.

There is a lot of reliance on cloud services like Box and Dropbox to gather and share information across an organisation which itself presents a number of IT headaches for companies. Trying to make a consumer product work for the enterprise inevitably means that mobile management remains outside the IT department's awareness and control, and as such valuable corporate data is left unprotected. From another perspective, it's essentially "lost" to all employees across the organisation for the purposes of collaboration and knowledge sharing.

So while the emphasis in 2013 may have been on creating modern data management strategies, the priority for 2014 now has to be the synchronisation of files and preparation for automated retention methods to reduce the risk of data loss.

The biggest single benefit of automated and continuous file and folder synchronisation is that it makes data fluid, not siloed. It supports different environments and operating systems and provides guaranteed access to either old documents indefinitely or to the most recent files instantly, regardless of the device on which they were created. However, given that synchronisation is different from traditional backup, what is also needed in order to encourage the widespread adoption of a central corporate repository are centrally-defined yet automated processes that improve mobile data protection without any involvement from the user.

IT needs to regain sight and control of all remote offices, and mobile devices, and to be able to provide a backup service that reaches all areas of the network in an instant. This is perhaps the only way after all to ensure that IT has the latest version of every user's files at any given time. Just as important in this data focused age is the delivery of self-service access to protected files and email 24x7. Fast restore times and intuitive, role-based search capabilities are now expected by users - across all enterprise data - as standard in order to simplify search and e-Discovery. Submitting a ticket and waiting for IT support is no longer acceptable. Any delay in access only increases the likelihood that employees will return to the high risk, consumer file sharing tools and ad-hoc cloud backup services.

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