By Stephen Manley, Chief Technologist, Druva.

The changing data landscape can be the equaliser for small businesses. After decades of watching larger organisations use larger IT budgets to gain a competitive advantage, cloud and SaaS have levelled the playing field. Cloud, however, creates new data protection challenges, and small businesses will need to change.

Levelling the playing field

Cloud levels the playing field between smaller and bigger companies. Small companies cannot afford “one of everything” for their infrastructure, so they buy a one-size-fits-all workhorse system to support all the workloads. As a result, advanced techniques like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) have been almost inconceivable. Today, however, the cloud gives every company access to the most comprehensive technology platform in the world. SaaS actually favours smaller companies. For years, large companies invested in technology and people to create an advantage in sales, marketing, and back-office applications. Today, however, those services are better provided by SaaS applications, so organisations that can pivot quickly to SaaS have an advantage. Since small companies have less invested in core IT, they have less resistance to change.With the cloud and SaaS, large and small companies have access to the same basic technology. Now the question is, “Who can innovate fastest?”

The new challenge – small data sprawl protection

As cloud and SaaS unlock small business innovation, managing data becomes more complicated. Combine the rapid adoption of remote work, cloud-native development, and SaaS applications with the expansion of regional privacy regulations, and you face an entirely different data landscape than even a year ago. Since your business depends on data to build products and connect with customers, data protection quickly becomes your most challenging problem.‘Small data sprawl,’ the result of more data in more locations, changes how you protect data. Organisations cannot use data centre protection tools because the data is in too many places. In fact, regional privacy regulations may prohibit companies from centralising the backups. Still, the data needs to be secured, protected, and monitored. Small data sprawl makes protecting your data significantly more difficult.While it is not always a top priority, data protection keeps your business alive when trouble strikes. Companies that violate privacy regulations or cannot recover from cyber-attacks usually fail within 12 months. Despite the dire consequences, small companies struggle to fund disaster recovery and archive. Instead of investing in a standby disaster site and an archive solution, most try to stretch their traditional backup tool to cover all use cases. Unfortunately, when disasters or lawsuits hit, the companies collapse before they can recover their data. Regardless of their size, businesses cannot ignore small data sprawl and the protection and compliance challenges that come with it.

The new architecture: SaaS Data Protection

Since cloud created small data sprawl, it’s also ideal for protecting your next-generation applications. Only cloud has the connectivity to protect remote data in region so companies can comply with local regulations. Meanwhile, cloud backup can scale with cloud-native and SaaS applications, like Slack, Office365, and Salesforce. Then, when disasters strike, companies no longer need a standby disaster recovery site. They can now rapidly spin up cloud resources, restore their data and restart the applications. Finally, with low-cost cloud storage, organisations can retain historical backups online for years, and extract it when needed. With cloud, small businesses no longer need to choose between cost and holistic data protection.While cloud provides a powerful framework, switching to cloud-centric data protection can be challenging. IT is sprinting just to keep up with the business, so there is no time to re-architect the backup environment. Furthermore, small businesses worry about backup failures, security leaks, and cost overruns if they move to the cloud. Cloud is appealing, but seems unattainable. SaaS data protection brings the value of cloud and simplicity. SaaS providers have aggregated expertise about the cloud, data protection, and regulations, so your team does not have to. SaaS data protection solutions offer simple pricing, protection for modern workloads, and functionality that includes backup, disaster recovery, long-term retention, and data compliance. Advanced solutions can even alert you to personal identification information (PII) leakage, flag unusual data access patterns, and warn of patterns that indicate a cyber-attack.SaaS data protection offloads the IT team, so they can focus on helping the business innovate.We’re operating in unprecedented times, and the last thing businesses want to worry about is the safety and protection of their data. Costs need to be managed, time is precious, and businesses are looking for more support from their IT teams. SaaS data protection will be vital to enabling IT to support the business. It’s time for small businesses to claim a technology advantage, so we can focus on innovation.