Promises of the IT Industry

Frank Barker, CEO, Bacula Systems
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Frank Barker, CEO, Bacula Systems

The technology industry is permanently in a state of change. This is one of the reasons it is such an exciting place to work as it continues to attract such bright and creative people. At least this is my own experience at Bacula Systems. The trends I see impacting the industry and specifically my own company is not new, but what is notable is that the pace in most is accelerating. I don't think any IT professional would say cloud computing, Mobile, the Internet of Things, data security challenges, big data, vendor restructuring, industry consolidation, the challenge of business and IT alignment, were new. At least I hope not. So let me pick a few of these to give my own perspective on the latest technological evolution.

The operational core of IT is the datacenter, whether it be small number of servers in a small business or a network of thousands of servers in an Enterprise or Cloud provider. The latter being located in increasingly expensive, dedicated facilities usually spread geographically. In all these datacenters, data volume continues to grow at an ever-increasing pace, relentlessly accelerated by greater industry adoption of Business Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, and the Internet of Things. Companies and organizations want an effective way to manage their data, while further developing their competitiveness or finding additional revenue streams. The challenge is always to do this without compromising on security, reliability, or cost efficiency.

At the macro level the trend to cloud continues to accelerate. There are thousands and thousands of cloud services providers today, big and small. Many of these provide a range of services including one I'm particularly interested in, backup and restore services often based on Bacula Enterprise Edition. Across the cloud provider marketplace we see consolidation, as small and not so small companies are acquired into bigger, more cost effective structures. We also see fragmentation as many traditional IT services providers diversify into providing cloud services. What I find fascinating is that we talk about cloud as a final destination for the provision of computing services. I see it more as part of the journey to a more complete information utility, as pervasive as the electricity utility is today and moving towards more global standardization. For this reason my company is focused on providing a completely scalable solution that grows with today's cloud providers as they evolve into tomorrow's utility services providers. To address this trend needs a solution that is based on a single platform and is competitive from just a few servers to tens and eventually hundreds of thousands. This is what we have spent the last several years developing and we are proud to have been selected by some of the world's most forward looking companies.

Tied in with this trend I see vendors who get it and vendors who are trapped with high cost structures funded by antiquated business models. The most glaring of these in my own marketplace is with vendors who charge their customers by data volume. With today's storage technologies there is no longer any justification for charging customers for the amount of data they backup. Data volume is no longer the driver of cost or complexity that it once was.

Just in case we all thought that data volume issues were understood, and perhaps even manageable, we have another huge wave of data about to hit today's datacenters - the data that will be generated by the Internet of Things. In my opinion the automotive industry will be one of the biggest drivers of data creation here as every vehicle becomes the sum of a number of IP addresses, each generating substantial data volume and demanding a range of business and information services from today's (and tomorrow's) service providers. I find it beyond belief that there are data backup vendors who think they can sustain business models based on data volume charges in this world. I think their customers are much smarter than this and a changing of the old guard is about to take place.

I talked about consolidation and fragmentation in the cloud services marketplace earlier. I think it would also be appropriate to look at the rapid changes in the backup and restore software marketplace. As I look at the traditional competitors in this market, all are in a state of change through their own reorganizations. Whether it is Dell acquiring EMC, Hewlett Packard spinning off hpe, or Symantec selling Veritas, the traditional software suppliers are in flux. Of course, every vendor will tell its customers that things will only be better as a result of these changes. However the reality is that most of the people communicating these messages do not know what their own jobs will be in these new structures, hence are ill-prepared to give comfort to their customers. Within all this turmoil, one company continues to deliver outstanding products and support to customers. It also controls its own destiny as it is owned by its management. Modesty prohibits me naming it.

Most companies have increasing concerns around data security, control and compliance. You don’t have to be in the IT industry to know this: it is in the news practically every day. Most organizations are uncomfortably aware that they face huge challenges in data security. Every organization is vulnerable to attack. While there are many technologies that can minimize the risks of having data stolen or the operational performance of systems compromised, in the final analysis the best way to ensure your business can continue in such a scenario is to ensure you have an up to date backup copy of your data and systems held securely and that you can recover this quickly and efficiently. I don't see this changing any time soon.

The IT industry moves quickly, responding to business challenges that during 2016 will be significant. To run a company that delivers solutions to the very real challenges I find extremely rewarding. One of the original promises of the IT industry was always to try and make the world a better place – my aim is to continue contributing to both that spirit and that reality as much as possible.

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