The disconnect between business expectations and IT’s ability to deliver has never been more impactful, according to the Veeam – Data Protection Trends Report 2022, which found that 89% of organizations are not protecting data sufficiently. Veeam Software found that 88% of IT leaders expect data protection budgets to rise at a higher rate than broader IT spending as data becomes more critical to business success and the challenges of protecting it grow in complexity. More than two-thirds are turning to cloud-based services to protect essential data.
The Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022 surveyed more than 3,000 IT decision-makers and global enterprises to understand their data protection strategies for the next 12 months and beyond. The largest of its kind, this study examines how organizations are preparing for the IT challenges they face, including a huge growth in the use of cloud services and cloud-native infrastructure, as well as the expanding cyber-attack landscape and the steps they are taking to implement a Modern Data Protection strategy that ensures business continuity.
“Data growth over the past two years [since the pandemic] has more than doubled, in no small part to how we have embraced remote working and cloud-based services and so forth,” said Anand Eswaran, Chief Executive Officer at Veeam. “As data volumes have exploded, so too have the risks associated with data protection; ransomware being a prime example. This research shows that organizations recognize these challenges and are investing heavily, often due to having fallen short in delivering the protection users need. Businesses are losing ground as modernization of ‘production’ platforms is outpacing their modernization of ‘protection’ methods and strategies. Data volumes and platform diversity will continue to rise, and the cyber-threat landscape will expand. So, CXOs must invest in a strategy that plugs the gaps they already have and keeps pace with rising data protection demands.”
According to the study, 80% of UAE organizations and 82% of Saudi organizations have a protection gap between how much data they can afford to lose after an outage and how frequently data is backed up. In addition, 80% of UAE organizations and 76% of Saudi organizations have an availability gap between their expected SLAs and how quickly they can return to productivity. Moreover, 98% of UAE organizations and 97% of Saudi organizations experienced unexpected outages within the last 12 months. On average, 17% of UAE organizations’ and 18% of Saudi organizations’ data is left completely unprotected.
“The UAE and Saudi (the two biggest IT markets in the Middle East) findings of the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022 largely mimics the global results, which find that the gap between business expectations and IT delivery, when it comes to data protection, continues to widen and has never been worse. As the proportion of applications that organizations consider mission-critical increases, so too does the volume and variety of cybersecurity threats. Entire industries face a data protection emergency and businesses across the world are looking for ways to accelerate their strategies to protect data, remediate cyber-attacks and recover from systems outages,” said Claude Schuck, Regional Director, the Middle East at Veeam Software.
When it comes to ransomware, 86% of UAE organizations and 84% of Saudi organizations suffered ransomware attacks, making cyber-attacks one of the single biggest causes of downtime for the second consecutive year. Per attack, organizations in UAE were unable to recover 34% of their lost data on average, while Saudi organizations were unable to recover 37% of their lost data on average. Furthermore, 81% of UAE organizations and 81% of Saudi organizations were unable to recover at least some of the data they had lost.
“To be fully transformative, Middle East enterprises need to be anchored with key technologies provided by virtualization, hybrid cloud, and Kubernetes. Companies who succeed in accelerating their adoption of a Modern Data Protection strategy will put in place solid foundations to gain a competitive advantage from digitization. It will enable them to experience the lower cost points and flexibility of the public cloud, leverage the security and proximity of the private cloud, and fast-track their development cycles by deploying Kubernetes, with the assurance that their data is protected across their entire infrastructure,” Schuck added.
Speaking about the impact of ransomware attacks on regional businesses, Schuck asserted that for Middle Eastern businesses to win the ransomware battle, they must possess the capability for education, implementation, and remediation. According to him, the best remedy for a security breach is prevention. “This can be improved through education of employees, ensuring that cyber-attackers are not being gifted access to the data and systems they need to initiate a ransomware attack. The next strategy is the implementation of offsite and offline backups to mitigate the effects of ransomware. Veeam advocates the 3-2-1-1-0 rule,” Schuck added. “There should always be at least three copies of important data, on at least two different types of media, with at least one off-site, one offline, with zero unverified backups or backups completing with errors. Finally, businesses need a plan for remediation. Do not pay the ransom. The only option is to restore data. Implementing a full Backup and Disaster Recovery plan gives organizations the ability to recover data in event of a ransomware attack, minimizing the risk of financial and reputational damage.”
When it comes to the need for modern data protection in the Middle East, 88% of UAE organizations and 86% of Saudi organizations plan to increase their data protection budgets during 2022 – spending an average of around 7% more than in 2021. “It is clear from the survey that businesses in the Middle East are investing more and taking steps to ensure that their organizations’ data protection strategy is fit for purpose given the continual increase in data criticality and constantly evolving threat landscape. To provide a strong foundation for Digital Transformation, IT leaders must implement robust Modern Data Protection strategies at the lowest possible cost. The “new normal” for modern IT is approximately 50/50 between on-premises servers and cloud-hosted servers,” added Schuck.
In addition, 52% of UAE organizations’ data infrastructure is currently located in the data center, with 48% now hosted in the cloud. 49% of Saudi organizations’ data infrastructure is currently located in the data center, with 51% now hosted in the cloud. Furthermore, 69% of UAE organizations and 76% of Saudi Arabian organizations are already running containers in production, while 29% and 22% respectively plan to do so in the next 12 months.
As such, an optimal and future-proof data protection strategy needs to accommodate physical, virtual, and multiple cloud-hosted or cloud-native options. It should give businesses confidence that their data is protected and always available across all production platforms. Through a single backup and data management platform for cloud, virtual, physical, SaaS and Kubernetes, Modern Data Protection enables organizations to modernize backup and recovery, secure data against ransomware, and improve application performance. All of which lead to improved business efficiency and cost-effectiveness,” concluded Schuck.
The data protection gap is widening
Respondents stated that their data protection capabilities cannot keep pace with the demands of the business, with 89% reporting a gap between how much data they can afford to lose after an outage versus how frequently data is backed up. This has risen by 13% in the past 12 months, indicating that while data continues to grow in volume and importance, so do the challenges in protecting it to a satisfactory level. The key driver behind this is that the data protection challenges facing businesses are immense and increasingly diverse.
For the second year in a row, cyberattacks have been the single biggest cause of downtime, with 76% of organizations reporting at least one ransomware event in the past 12 months. Not only is the frequency of these events alarming, so is their potency. Per attack, organizations were unable to recover 36% of their lost data, proving that data protection strategies are currently failing to help businesses prevent, remediate and recover from ransomware attacks.
“As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated and even more difficult to prevent, backup and recovery solutions are essential foundations of any organization’s Modern Data Protection strategy,” said Danny Allan, CTO at Veeam. “For peace of mind, organizations need 100% certainty that backups are being completed within the allocated window and restorations deliver within required SLAs. The best way to ensure data is protected and recoverable in the event of a ransomware attack is to partner with a third-party specialist and invest in an automated and orchestrated solution that protects the myriad data center and cloud-based production platforms that organizations of all sizes rely on today.”
Businesses face a data protection emergency
To close the gap between data protection capabilities and this growing threat landscape, organizations will spend around 6% more annually on data protection than broader IT investments. While this will only go some way to reversing the trend of data protection needs outpacing the ability to execute, it is positive to see CXOs acknowledge the urgent need for Modern Data Protection.
As the cloud continues its trajectory to becoming the dominant data platform, 67% of organizations already use cloud services as part of their data protection strategy, while 56% now run containers in production or plan to in the next 12 months. Platform diversity will expand during 2022, with the balance between data center (52%) and cloud servers (48%) continuing to close. This is one reason 21% of organizations rated the ability to protect cloud-hosted workloads as the most important buying factor for enterprise data protection in 2022 and 39% believe IaaS/SaaS capabilities to be the definitive attribute of Modern Data Protection.
“The power of hybrid IT architectures is driving both production and protection strategies through cloud-storage and Disaster Recovery utilizing cloud-hosted infrastructure,” concluded Allan. “The benefits of investing in Modern Data Protection go beyond providing peace of mind, ensuring business continuity and maintaining customer confidence. To balance expenditure against strategic digital initiatives, IT leaders must implement robust solutions at the lowest possible cost.”
Other key findings from the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2022 include:
- Businesses have an availability gap: 90% of respondents confirmed they have an availability gap between their expected SLAs and how quickly they can return to productivity. This has risen by 10% since 2021.
- Data remains unprotected: Despite backup being a fundamental part of any data protection strategy, 18% of global organizations’ data is not backed up — therefore, completely unprotected.
- Human error is far too common: Technical failures are the most frequent cause of downtime with an average of 53% of respondents experiencing outages across infrastructure/networking, server hardware and software. 46% of respondents experienced cases of administrator configuration error, while 49% were hindered by accidental deletion, overwriting of data or corruption caused by users.
- Protecting remote workers: Only 25% of organizations utilize orchestrated workflows to reconnect resources during a disaster, while 45% run predefined scripts to reconnect resources running remotely in the event of downtime and 29% manually reconfigure user connectivity.
- Economic drivers remain critical: When asked about the most important factors when purchasing an enterprise data solution, 25% of IT leaders are motivated by improving the economics of their solution.