Earlier this month Brad Jervis conducted a webinar with Dave Russell, who serves at Veeam’s vice president of enterprise strategy. Before joining Veeam, Dave was a vice president and distinguished analyst covering disaster recovery (DR) and data protection for Gartner.

Suffice to say, these two know backup and DR backward and forwards. So, fittingly, in this on-demand webinar, “2021 Data Protection Trends + Predictions,” these two experts look ahead to what organizations can expect in 2021 when it comes to DR. Further, they also look back at 2020 and the lessons it taught us about IT resilience.

Brad and Dave go into great detail during the webinar, so I encourage you to watch the whole thing. In the meantime, here’s a short overview of just a few of the topics they discussed.  

DR: 2020 vs 2021

Certainly, 2020 was a “black swan” of a year if ever there was one. In a strange inversion of the typical DR event, equipment and data were largely unaffected, while people were forced to work from home due to COVID-19. The data and infrastructure were fine — the problem was that people couldn’t access it, at least not the way in which they normally did so.

Those organizations that had prepared for a scenario in which people would work from home during a disaster were in much better shape than those who had to embark on a mad scramble to provide access to every single employee in a matter of days. And given how well working from home seems to have gone for most organizations, Brad expects “work from home” to replace the secondary office scenario that many businesses had intended to use in case their original location were destroyed or seriously damaged.

If working from home isn’t just the new failover for employees, but rather becomes the new normal for many workers, IT will have to think about additional resources that employees will need. For instance, what about home generators for critical IT personnel, so they can work even if their power isn’t?

Parallelling the shift to “working from home” is the realization that a secondary data center may not be the best way forward for DR, given how well the cloud has worked in 2020. A redundant data center is expensive and cumbersome to maintain, update and upgrade, whereas the cloud is right there, ready to handle your DR needs. As a result, both Dave and Brad expect to see even more DR workloads move to the cloud in 2021.

The growing need for third-party DRaaS

The cloud, of course, is not the same as a traditional data center. So Dave and Brad believe we’ll see more organizations looking to third-party providers for DR. After all, it’s a complex undertaking that, like any other, requires experience to effectively  plan and execute a failover. Most IT pros might need to recover from a disaster once in their career — third-party specialists have done it dozens of times. Indeed, Veeam’s own data show that by next year more companies will rely on a third-party cloud-based provider for DR rather than do it themselves. 

Even though DR is complex, as Brad points out the plan itself is a blueprint for automation. With the right tools and technologies, organizations can literally implement one-click failover to a cloud environment. Even better, people haven’t reported serious performance issues when they do, even though they expected cloud access to be slow.

Cybersecurity priorities

Both Brad and Dave agree: cybersecurity threats continue to grow and CIOs will need to continue to harden their environments, especially for remote employees. Employees who once worked on a company machine behind the corporate firewall in a secure environment may now be using a personal machine with less-than-secure cable modem connection to the Internet. If they haven’t already, organizations need to create and execute a strong remote security strategy for their employees in 2021, because even once the pandemic passes, many people will remain working from home.

Interestingly, the current Veeam data represents the top three of the events that have caused large outages are hardware, networking, application or storage failures. Per the CIOs surveyed, these events all cause more downtime than do cybersecurity events, is this a sign that cyber attacks haven’t even begun to reach their potential impact?

So while the threat landscape is getting more dangerous, the current widespread threats to company operations still go beyond cyber-attacks. The lesson, though, isn’t to ignore security, as that would be unrealistic. The lesson is “don’t put off DR” as so many organizations do and think holistically about your operations. The year 2020 should have taught everyone the importance of preparing for disaster. It’s just like auto insurance; no one likes paying for it, but when you really need it, you’ll be glad it’s there.

There’s a whole lot more in the on-demand webinar. Click through and watch. It’ll be 45 minutes of your time well spent!