Beware the bevy of black swans

At a time of unprecedented black swan events, a good data protection strategy remains absolutely priceless for all companies.

By Byron Horn-Botha, Business unit head, Arcserve Southern Africa.

Early in 2022, the British Chambers of Commerce warned the Treasury of an impending “cost of doing business crisis”. The warning came after a survey of more than 1 000 UK companies showed businesses are drowning in rising costs, and was issued even before the energy crisis began to bite.

More recent data reveals firms are under extreme pressure as gas and electricity bills rise, wage demands increase and supply chains slow further.

At the same time, small business confidence fell to an 11-month low in the US. In the National Federation of Independent Business survey, 22% of respondents said inflation is their single-most significant business problem as they were experiencing its highest level since 1981.

On the home front, the South African economy is expected to grow by 2% in 2022. While that may not be considered much, it is better than the potential long-term growth rate of just over 1%. The average inflation rate is forecast to remain controlled at levels close to the Reserve Bank’s target of 4.5%. However, SA’s economy is also affected by other factors, including the record high unemployment rate.

The bottom line is that we are not immune to such global trends, with businesses everywhere under severe pressure from rising costs. But even as companies rethink their operational expenditures as they attempt to cope, they still need to invest in protecting, storing and backing up data.

Here are five ways to ensure data resilience despite the rising macro-economic challenges:

1. Take a hybrid cloud approach to data protection

Many companies are adopting a hybrid cloud for managing their data; benefits include greater IT flexibility, business efficiency and competitive advantage. Backing up data to the cloud can also be a cost-effective alternative to purchasing in-house systems.

Maintaining and managing infrastructure can be expensive and labour-intensive. One recentstudy reported that small and medium firms find it 40% more cost-effective to use third-party cloud platforms than maintain an in-house system.

A proper backup and recovery plan protects data even if the company is victimised by a cyber attack.

There are data-protection solutions on the market geared to hybrid computing environments. Look for solutions that combine security controls, ransomware detection and data protection to ensure security across your hybrid environment.

The cloud-adoption trend will likely continue even after spiralling costs are no longer an issue because cloud adoption will remain the key to accelerating IT modernisation and business transformation.

2. Keep your guard up

Rising costs are not the only problem. War is raging in Ukraine, and the threat of all-out cyber attacks increases daily. Cyber criminals constantly seek opportunities to exploit challenging situations and attack when they think their target is at its most vulnerable.

Economic challenges are shown to increase cyber security risks, with cyber crooks seeking the opportunity to attack what they perceive to be easy prey.

A proper backup and recovery plan protects data even if the company is victimised by a cyber attack. The organisation should be seeking an “immutable” data-storage solution that safeguards information continuously by taking snapshots every 90 seconds, so that data remains protected and can be easily recovered.

3. Embrace hybrid working

With the rising fuel cost, many workers want to stay at home rather than spend their money commuting to the office. Most organisations successfully implemented remote and hybrid work programmes during the pandemic. Continuing these policies can go a long way towards protecting the financial health of workers, keeping them happier and more productive.

However, when workers are remote, data is further fragmented, compounding vulnerabilities. More support is needed to manage and protect data at remote locations effectively.

The good news is that there are now simple, low-cost solutions that can effectively backup and protect data in remote environments without deploying additional resources or capital.

4. Know which pieces of data are most critical

All data is not equally valuable. If on a mission to save money, storing or backing up every byte of data in the organisation might not be necessary. It would help to look for storage solutions that offer data-management capabilities like data tiering.

Data tiering is a method by which less frequently used data moves to cheaper storage levels/tiers, helping to save money on data storage while avoiding damage to the most essential data.

Maintaining healthy processes around data hygiene can help efficiently retain and backup all critical data − and offload unneeded data. Another advantage to data tiering is improved energy and cost savings, because less compute power is need to store business-critical data.

5. Don’t skimp on data backup and security

Ensure planned budget cuts do not impact the data protection programme. It may look like an easy place to save money, but any reductions to data defences will come with costs, even if only further down the road.

The 2021 IBM Cost of a Data Breach report found the average cost of a breach to a US business in 2021 was a staggering $9.05 million.

It is critical to recognise the importance of data and ensure any budget cuts have minimal impact on business operations. Once this has been done, look for cost-effective, next-generation solutions that enable the safeguarding of data and growing the business.

The best solutions can quickly recover individual files and systems in minutes, while ensuring the data is always available.

We are operating in a different business environment today, one buffeted by new macro-economic challenges on an accelerating basis. Whether we like the metaphor or not, black swan events are arriving in flocks today.

By thinking differently about data protection and management, businesses can cut costs while helping ensure ongoing sustainability.

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