COVID-19: Impact and challenges on the tech industry

By Ravi Rajendran


THE COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped consumer behaviour in Malaysia. Across myriad sectors, including healthcare, digital education, and retail services, the new normal has propelled the move to online, bringing with it a significant surge in demand for a seamless customer experience.

Amid mass remote working in Malaysia, the need for organisations to deploy modern processes to secure and manage their data is more critical now than ever. Data continues to grow at exponential rates.

At the same time, the large-scale work-from-home (WFH) arrangements — and employees accessing the company network from their own devices – has increased the surface area for cybersecurity attacks.

According to a PWC report which explains the impact of COVID-19 on Malaysia, maintaining business operations and reliance on remote access technology were one of the top challenges identified. In fact, given the urgency which the world when into WFH, security controls may not be applied to new systems or tools properly to support employees who are working remotely.

Today’s backup and recovery landscape is littered with separate legacy point-products for backups, target storage, and long-term data retention. It is a complex environment to manage since each of these silos is designed on different environment, ie proprietary hardware and software that typically have their own management tools, upgrade cycles, and maintenance and support contracts.

In addition, cyberthreats and intrusions have also become more sophisticated. Advanced ransomware attacks are entering environments from an endpoint and heading straight for backups before taking over the main production data. Backups and shadow copies are being aggressively targeted by cybercriminals crippling operations and driving high ransomware payouts.

The other challenge is IT teams having limited IT resources that cannot handle the burden of developing, analysing, and managing poorly organised data on top of their day-to-day work. Businesses need to take control of their data include what and where they are storing it.

In Malaysia, there are regulations in place to manage and protect data in the form of Personal Data Protection Act, but many organisations prioritise compliance over optimising their capability. The challenge that organisations face is when they merely comply with rules and regulations rather than using them as guidelines.

Data owners are not always confident about the application of general rules and regulations related to privacy and confidentiality, and individual agencies may also face specific internal data management regulations. This situation creates a fragmented environment for data management that lacks clarity for both government and the public on how data can be requested, shared and used.

As the organisation expands, data is spread across multiple clusters in different locations, both on-premises and in the public cloud. By being able to manage all of an organisations global data, wherever it resides-on-premises, at the edge, or the public cloud – from a single, unified user interface that also comes with powerful machine-driven, predictive analytics, and contextually relevant actionable recommendation.

In this scenario, businesses would see significantly improved efficiencies, get much better at predicting future requirements, detect anomalies—including ransomware attacks on the IT production environment, avoid downtime, and draw extensive insights from previously untapped data, all while reducing their cost.

IT teams can accelerate IT productivity, improve business planning and continuity, and assist in deriving valuable insights into previously untapped global data.

Besides that, IT teams are backing up diverse and often fragmented data that they do not need, increasing the complexity of managing data and incurring unnecessary storage costs.

Businesses risk losing out in terms of competitiveness if they spend a significant sum of money storing duplicated and dark data which they can’t even search for when it comes to decision making and compliance purposes.

By leapfrogging existing legacy infrastructure to store and manage their data effectively, organisations are saving a lot of costs both in a short and long term.

Meanwhile, one of the key challenges that organisations face is mass data fragmentation, where data is heavily siloed across data and infrastructure silos that span on-premises and public clouds.

Data silos could span across and within backup, and analytics and this can result in the increasingly spread of duplicated and inconsistent data across multiple locations, both on-premises and in the public cloud.

Another significant part of the data growth challenge revolves around supporting a far broader set of applications than in the past. Businesses need to pay attention to data silos as it prevents collaboration necessary to ensure competitiveness.

With data silos and a fragmented infrastructure, the organisation’s ability to harness the power of their data is hampered. The key way to address this challenge is to deploy a web-scale data management platform, that brings all of these silos together

The phrase “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken” does not apply in this case. Organisations are certainly compounding the issues and raising the stakes if they do not do anything to improve their data management strategies now. – Jan 20, 2021


Ravi Rajendran is the vice president of Asia Pacific at Cohesity.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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