Burning questions about the Dell GDPI 2020 Snapshot: the lay of the data protection landscape

Burning questions about the Dell GDPI 2020 Snapshot: the lay of the data protection landscape

If you peruse the latest Dell Global Data Protection Index (GDPI) 2020 Snapshot as well as the biennial report that was released last year, you’ll notice very interesting insights into the state of the data protection landscape.

Of note is the massive spike in the amounts of critical data used and managed by organisations with many in the Asia Pacific region using five times the amount of data they did back in 2016 and yet data protection protocols are lagging behind. The COVID-19 pandemic has also driven home the urgent need for secure data access and protection, especially now that the majority of the workforce is now telecommuting. To peruse the original GDPI 2020 Snapshot, do have a look at their official feature on the subject here.

While comprehensive, these reports by Dell don’t exactly offer intimate insight, especially into the finer nuances and the nitty gritty of how data protection policies meet more practical concerns like regional data privacy laws and how much of the theory showcased is actually practised which is where we took the opportunity to speak to one of Dell Technologies foremost experts in the field.

Dell logo GDPI 2020

A word with Saravanan from Dell Technologies

We sat down with Saravanan Krishnan, Director, Data Protection Solutions, South Asia, Dell Technologies, who shared deeper insight into the Dell Global Data Protection Index 2020 Snapshot. With two decades of IT experience on his dance card, Saravanan spearheads growth and supports Dell Technologies’ customers with solutions for data management, cybersecurity and compliance. Here’s the deep-dive interview with responses written ad verbatim from Saravanan with only minor edits for clarity.

GDPI 2020 Saravanan

Saravanan Krishnan, Director, Data Protection Solutions, South Asia, Dell Technologies

Organisations in APJ manage more than 13.31 petabytes of data on average, a staggering 693% increase since 2016. What sort of data is fuelling this explosive growth of data managed, and how are businesses monetising this data?

Advancements of technology – proliferated by emerging, disruptive innovations – continue to digitise the business landscape as we enter what Dell Technologies terms as the new “Data Decade.” The growth of organisations today is no longer solely driven by smart marketing strategies or rapid expansion plans, for example, but by a new kind of ‘currency’ – data. It is the lifeblood of the business and key to an organisation’s digital transformation.

Businesses are increasingly dependent on data, especially the data used to fuel new innovations, open doors to alternative revenue streams, or even predict the needs of customers before they themselves realise it! Think of data-driven companies just as Grab (transport) and Foodpanda (food delivery) – who would have thought it would be so tightly integrated into our daily lives today?

Data is no longer meant to support the business; it has evolved to the point where it is the business. The increasing value of data will drive organisations to prioritise data strategies to explore new opportunities to increase customer loyalty, bring new services to market, and compete more effectively. In fact, the Dell Technologies Global Data Protection Index 2020 Snapshot (GDPI 2020) shows that 75% of organisations in APJ see their data as valuable and are currently extracting value or plan to in the future.

However, when an organisation expands, the amount of data managed by it grows, but not without increasing challenges faced in protecting and managing it.

80% of APJ respondents experienced some type of disruption last year. What were the most common disruptions that occurred and why? 

Today, it is relatively common to hear of organisations that face the conundrum of continuous and massive data growth but lack the best strategy to navigate the situation. We have seen this happen with examples in the banking and healthcare sectors where customer data loss has cost serious reputational and operational damage.

According to the GDPI 2020, the growing number of disruptive events experienced range from cyber-attacks to data loss to systems downtime. What’s concerning is that a majority (77%) are not confident that their current data protection solutions will be able to meet all future business needs! This explains why 70% of respondents fear their organisation will experience a further disruptive event in the next 12 months.

Consider this: the cost of disruption is also increasing at an alarming rate. The estimated average cost of downtime surged by 61% from 2018 to 2019 to a total cost of US$794,308. The estimated average cost of data loss in APJ also increased from just under a million US dollars (US$939,703) in 2018 to more than US$1.3 million (US$1,301,524) per organisation in 2019.

In a nutshell, disruptions to the business are not going to stop. Organisations will need to seriously (re)evaluate their data protection strategies and take swift action, as more and more data and application services managed across edge locations, core data centre and multi-cloud environments will make it very challenging for them to ensure data is continuously protected, compliant and secure.

GDPI 2020 Saravanan interview

One of the key concerns in many APJ IT budgets is acquiring the best value for the investment, which may often mean a ‘mix and match’ approach with different providers for the cheapest price rather than prioritising homogeneity (engaging one primary vendor). How often does this happen in APJ versus the rest of the world and what is Dell doing to address this?

A key finding of the GDPI 2020 revealed that APJ organisations (83%) that are using more than one data protection vendor are four times more vulnerable to a cyber-incident. Costs of disruption are also significantly higher – nearly four times higher downtime-related costs and almost twelve times higher data loss costs, on average. Also, organisations using multiple vendors are 3.7 times more likely to struggle with recovering data following those that are using a single vendor.

The irony is that these organisations are spending more time, money and staffing resources to protect their data and applications and yet, suffer higher losses than those who employ a single data protection vendor!

In situations like this, it’s important that businesses work with a strategic technology partner that understands the costs of downtime and data loss, and together create a strategy that will best serve their needs or meet their transformation goals. At Dell Technologies, we are committed to delivering the end-to-end, innovative data protection solutions our customers need to break the cycle of digital disruption and help them transform now and well into the future.

What businesses really need is simplified, efficient and reliable data protection solutions – regardless of the platform (virtual, physical, software-as-a-service, cloud-native, etc.) or the environments in which workloads are deployed (edge, core, multi-cloud). For example, today, we are protecting over 2.7 Exabytes of data for over 1,000 customers in the public cloud. We work with our partners to provide best-in-class solutions to ensure that disruptions are minimised – helping customers regain operations quickly with little or no loss of critical data.

But that’s not all. Looking ahead, we continue to invest heavily in delivering the most innovative data protection solutions available in the market. Every quarter, we release new data protection capabilities to ensure our customers are up to date with the latest and greatest in order to protect and safeguard their critical data assets.

How are you factoring in the increasing reliance on artificial intelligence, machine learning data and cloud-native applications in your data protection solutions?

As emerging technologies continue to advance and shape the digital landscape, it is interesting to see how organisations are taking on emerging technologies for better business outcomes.

The volume, variety and velocity of data grows at a rapid pace and workloads are becoming ever more distributed – residing across the core data centre, in multiple clouds, and out in hundreds if not thousands of edge locations – meaning organisations on the front foot need robust data management strategies to combat increased security threats and cyber-attacks.

The GDPI 2020 reports that almost all APJ respondents’ organisations are making some level of investment in newer or emerging technologies, with the top five being:

1. Cloud-native applications (64%)
2. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications (58%)
3. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) (50%)
4. 5G and cloud edge infrastructure (49%)
5. Internet of Things/end point (45%)

These findings prove that data protection needs to be central to a company’s business strategy. As technology evolves and the data landscape becomes more complex, organisations will need nimble, sustainable data protection strategies that can scale in a multi-platform, multi-cloud world.

Organisations will need to seriously (re)evaluate their data protection strategies and take swift action, as more and more data and application services managed across edge locations, core data centre and multi-cloud environments will make it very challenging for them to ensure data is continuously protected, compliant and secure.” Saravanan Krishnan, Director, Data Protection Solutions, South Asia, Dell Technologies

Having such large amounts of data also means having to ensure data privacy and access versus regulatory compliance and government mandate, not to mention the differing standards across regions (E.g. Europe versus US versus APJ). What is needed to strike a balance to ensure data is not misused and what role does Dell have in situations like this?

As an example: statistical modelling and personal data of populations to model COVID-19 outbreaks – if the government needs a pre-emptive data model of a potential viral cluster that hasn’t yet happened based on existing data in a geographical region, who has the right to know – the people it is modelled on, the research company that has access to it, or the government agencies requiring access to that data? How to ensure data is used only for the purpose it is intended for?

We’ve seen governments in various countries introduce local data privacy laws to govern against such misuse. Some of these laws take into consideration cross-boundary regulations such as the GDPR introduced in Europe, to make it comprehensive for local businesses to adhere to. The implementation of some of these laws have technology dependencies and implications, such as ‘right to erasure’ and ‘data minimisation’.

Dell Technologies can offer advisory services in this area based on our experience, as well as supply the technology to support their data protection and recovery requirements. In many cases we work closely with our partners and stakeholders to ensure that our customer’s data is always protected, compliant and recoverable, not matter where it resides. This includes recovery from malicious cyber-attacks, such as the ones we are observing during this COVID-19 pandemic.

[Special thanks to Dell Technologies for facilitating our interview]

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