How do you back up your data? A decade ago, the question was an afterthought for IT directors, and they could answer it in 10 words or less. Today, the question is top of mind for CIOs and nobody in the organization has a complete answer. To deliver the answers that the business needs, the backup team must transform its approach and adopt a service-provider mindset.Backup has become a top IT priority because it can drive the business. Companies recognize the competitive business advantages of bringing together the right information and the right people. Therefore, they want their IT investments to advance their information infrastructure, instead of merely maintaining the legacy environment. Unfortunately, IT organizations evolve slowly to minimize risk (e.g. data loss). Enterprises with high-performance trusted backup solutions evolve more quickly because the rest of IT can move more rapidly, confident in their backup safety net. Backup has become a CIO focus because it can accelerate IT and business transformation.As backup has become more vital, it has also become more fragmented. Concerned about the performance and reliability of legacy backup solutions, individual IT groups have deployed point products to address their localized backup challenges. For example, most enterprises have DBAs, Virtual Machine (VM) administrators and storage teams run one-off approaches for some VMs, databases, NAS servers or remote offices. The result is chaos: snapshots, database dumps to local disk, replicas, Virtual Tape Library (VTL), cloud, legacy tape and multiple management applications. While countless IT directors swear that they’re the exception (“We’re a [insert term associated with hierarchical control] company. Everything is controlled by our central backup application.”), the stark reality is that absolute, centralized control is an illusion.Why do these groups diverge from the central backup offering? First, the backup team does not meet their needs. Second, unlike a decade ago, each group can create its own solution. The root of the problem is that the three core backup technical trends drive the divergence.Performance. Backup and recovery performance drives customer satisfaction. With more VMs, consolidated applications, billion-file NAS servers, and remote offices around the globe, backup teams struggle to maintain service levels. Since businesses are pushing IT to improve services, backup remains a critical bottleneck. In response, hypervisors, applications and storage systems have built tools to help optimize backup (e.g., VMware’s Changed Block Tracking, which can enable 10x better backup and recovery performance). Of course, if the company’s legacy backup application does not support the optimizations, the other teams will find point products that do.Visibility. VM, application, and storage administrators understand that data drives the business. They worry about not knowing the status of their backups. They complain that much of the time-critical restore workflow is out of their control. They want more visibility into their data protection and more control over restores. If the company’s backup team does not enable broader visibility, the other teams will deploy point products that they control.Disk Backup. When tape was the only viable backup media, centralization was required. Most application administrators didn’t want to purchase, manage, or attach tape devices to their servers. Disk, on the other hand, enables groups to create their own backup solution.The need for backup performance and visibility drives other IT groups to explore alternatives to their centralized backup team. Disk enables them to deploy those alternatives.To meet business needs and remain relevant, the backup team must adopt a service provider approach. Enterprises cannot allow backup to devolve into fragmented silos, but they cannot force their users to embrace substandard services. Therefore, backup teams must abandon the legacy backup model that alienates their customers. While many CIOs want to buy a “silver bullet” product or service that “solves” their problems, the first step is internal with their asking customers what services they want.First, they’ll learn that the teams want a central backup group for compliance, reporting, infrastructure management, etc. They just want fast backups that they can rapidly restore themselves.Second, they’ll find that their users want a variety of services across different applications – from traditional backup to backup storage services to centralized backup policy and catalog management.Once they begin to understand their customers, the backup team can adopt technologies that will help them evolve their environment. The first buying decision is disk backup. Immediately, disk can enhance the backup team’s service levels and organizational credibility. Strategically, since disk backup is one of three core trends, the backup group needs a reliable, flexible solution that will support the evolution to new workloads and workflows.Transforming the backup environment, the backup team, and its customer relationships takes time. Each day we see customers at all stages of evolution. An increasing number of backup teams, however, have already become service providers that help accelerate the business. For each of them, their transformation began with the service provider mindset.Sometimes, the best way to gain control is to let go… and embrace the chaos.
If CIOs and their IT organizations want to maintain their business relevance – and be in a position to expand their business contribution – they must leverage mobile and social, as well as new technologies and services for business innovation. They need to complete the shift to a services-based provisioning and consumption model. It’s also critical that they enable business to put Big Data and analytics to work, all while maintaining security and business continuity in an extended-platform world.All these roads lead to Hybrid Cloud.Hybrid clouds incorporate the advantages of both public and private clouds. They are more than just a bridge between the two. They offer access to a wide array of applications and services like public clouds, with the reliable performance and security for critical business applications of private clouds.The hybrid cloud model enables IT organizations to choose where they host their workloads. It also increases business agility – the flexibility to use a variety of services, the scalability to keep pace with business volume, the efficiency to keep costs to a minimum, and the ability to protect data and other technology assets.Want an even more rigorous definition? Hybrid cloud is an integrated, automated, scalable and secure platform for provisioning and consuming business applications, datasets and other technology services that originate either inside or outside an enterprise.We’ve put a lot of effort into implementations based on these criteria because it’s the capability companies need today. No contemporary corporation should settle for less.Heightened Security with Hybrid CloudOne of the immediate opportunities for hybrid cloud relates back to security. An added dimension to security today is real-time analysis of what’s happening across all of an enterprise’s networks. Traditional perimeter defenses are being redefined and supplemented to protect against the growing onslaught of cyber-intrusions.You can’t build a hard shell around the enterprise when your employees and customers can be anywhere anytime. On top of that, no one can prevent all intrusions, so it is increasingly vital to detect attacks and reduce their “dwell time.”Data analytics help spot anomalies quickly, isolate problems, and take action. This is like the non-stop, high-volume fraud detection applications used by credit card companies. It requires assembling, scanning and analyzing vast quantities of granular and diverse data. Hybrid clouds provide a scalable, efficient and manageable platform for these new “data lakes” needed for security analysis.In addition, securing sensitive business assets in the public cloud has become a serious pain point for companies. You have to negotiate how to map and recreate your security apparatus to fit into an external service level agreement. It’s laborious and results have not inspired confidence so far from what I hear. Companies lose data and transactions in public cloud failures. These public cloud security issues have limited the business flexibility that cloud is meant to deliver. This is not the case with hybrid clouds.CIOs know that their most important role isn’t provisioning and running the computing environment, essential as those activities are. It’s to encourage and enable their business to use technology strategically. This includes both implementing business strategy and formulating it in the first place. Hybrid cloud should be part of the business discussion today and the business capability tomorrow with the CIO leading the charge.This post is adapted from What CIOs Need to Know to Capitalize on Hybrid Cloud.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears. That’s according to a U.S. official briefed on the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday. Part of the concern is ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol. The threats and concern armed protesters could return to the Capitol have prompted federal law enforcement officials to insist that thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington in the coming weeks. Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection is set to begin the week of Feb. 8.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine officials say two people died and more than 90 others have been sickened or injured after ammonia leaked from an ice plant in a fish port near the capital. Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco said an employee died after being exposed to the gas Wednesday. The body of a second employee was found Thursday. More than 90 residents and employees have been hospitalized. Ammonia is used as a refrigerant but could be toxic to people in large amounts. More than 20 have remained in a hospital, complaining of breathing difficulties and other illnesses. The plant has been ordered closed and won’t reopen until it puts in place additional safeguards. The owner has apologized to the victims.
The global business consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has agreed to pay nearly $600 million for its role in the opioid crisis. In a deal announced Thursday with attorneys general for most states, the company agrees to make public documents showing communications with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and three other companies that have been in the opioid business. The settlement is novel because McKinsey did not make or sell the powerful painkillers but rather advised companies that did on how to boost their business. States say the company encouraged Purdue to focus on selling higher doses and to high-volume prescribers.