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Disaster recovery vendors look to automate, consolidate in 2018

To thrive, disaster recovery providers must keep up with the times. Converging backup and DR, fighting ransomware and properly using the cloud are important elements.

There are several big changes among disaster recovery vendors that are going to continue to shake things up in 2018.

The markets for backup and DR have always been divided and treated as separate entities. With the emergence and huge appetite of companies such as Rubrik, there is going to be a lot of consolidation, including the combining of two products -- DR and backup infrastructure -- into a single one. We are already seeing it in the enterprise space.

Convergence of backup and DR

Zerto and Veeam have DR products that promise quick failover with a low recovery point objective (RPO). Most incumbents and new entrants in the "classic backup" field are starting to offer comparable DR functionality in their products with "livable" RPOs. While the failover won't be as quick, when you have a four-hour recovery time objective, the issue becomes moot, especially when you consider the savings.

This threat to the pure disaster recovery vendors is real, and I am seeing it daily. It is especially dangerous to them because, if companies can do away with DR-specific applications and get the same functionality out of their backup system, it means a reduction in costs around hardware, licensing, training and maintenance. The results will be very interesting.

Automation for the win

DR automation is going to continue to grow at a massive pace. Manual setup, configuration and testing all cost money that could be put to better use. This isn't a fanciful "what if": It's real, and it's happening. When you think medium to large-scale, automation of testing is a good solid win.

Many midsize companies are setting up automation teams for these tasks. As a result, disaster recovery vendors are going to have to provide excellent APIs and documentation in a code-first world. In addition, this code-first shift isn't just limited to DR.

DR automation is also bigger than that small part of the larger picture. Think about the multi-cloud DR strategy that can enable failovers between several cloud vendors. Some disaster recovery vendors are already starting to offer fail in and fail out of disparate clouds. This is still in its relative infancy, but I expect this to be a headlining feature in the next several months across many vendors.

Cyberattacks keep companies on alert

Ransomware will, without a doubt, continue its massive trajectory. The DR market as a whole will continue to grow massively as organizations battle ransomware, such as Bad Rabbit and NotPetya.

In the larger companies, the people responsible for security are going to have to look at how they manage and respond to these issues. While instant recovery may help in combating this threat, it isn't a silver bullet for dealing with the long-term problem of ransomware.

Alongside all these major considerations are smaller factors, such as ease of use and simplicity. Going forward, this may be a differentiating factor among vendors who have feature parity.

Cloud DR continues to soar

A lot of customers are re-evaluating their association with classic disaster recovery vendors.

It seems that the whole DR setup is going through a rethink. A lot of customers are re-evaluating their association with classic disaster recovery vendors. These incumbents are going to have to show value for money and work on efficiency to keep customers. The cloud DR paradigm is taking no prisoners, and the cost of these classic DR setups at third parties is becoming ever more unjustifiable in today's market of cloud everything. Their one saving grace is that some items just don't do cloud DR. Think mainframe, legacy systems and so on.

Lastly, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will have a small impact on DR sales and uptake. Part of the GDPR considers the ability of the company to restore access and availability within a reasonable timeframe. It isn't a DR issue, but that doesn't stop less scrupulous companies from selling DR software when, in reality, all the software does is create and delete data. It is a business problem more than it is a technology problem.

In the next year, we will see a lot of new features around the public cloud and cloud DR. As to who remains standing, we will have to see.

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