Marco Fanizzi, Commvault International, CIOSEA News, ETCIO SEA
The challenges of handling big data in an age where its importance precedes even money or gold are increasingly affecting all organisations, no matter which industry or sector they cater to. Building efficient data strategies is the bare minimum for businesses who want to stay ahead of the curve and have a competitive advantage in reaching the time to market. With increasing data protection and privacy concerns, organisations are also developing regulations and practices that align themselves to securing the customers’ or users’ sacred and entrusted data.
In an exclusive interaction, Marco Fanizzi, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Commvault International, shares his outlook on the importance of instilling privacy and ethics while building data strategies, aligning them to the business goals, trends in big data use cases, the need for data ownership and accountability, and insights into Commvault International’s newly developing data management solutions and partnerships.
Marco brings more than 30 years of customer-driven industry experience leading Commvault International, Dell Technologies, Symantec, Veritas Technologies and Sun Microsystems. His focus is to drive his teams’ engagement and opportunity with customers and partners to best serve them as a strategic data and business resilience partner. With the business rigour to keep customers first, Marco has built on leadership within the IT sector for a long time and continues to envision a future full of possibilities.
Here are some of the most interesting excerpts from the interview:
Marco, data strategies are the analytical apexes required in every domain of business these days. For anyone who’s looking to implement an effective data strategy, what are some of the best data practices you can share with us?
I have had the opportunity to share that in the last two days in meetings with very important customers, the market is in a great place in the adoption of digital solutions. IT is a crucial part of business, and data is becoming highly essential. Due to the fact that it is so essential now, it’s definitely being compared to being the new gold. Its utility to transform information into competitive value is commendable. Companies are also on the brink of stealing their customers’ data. The aspect of mistrust is also emerging and I cannot create a wall between me and my customer, therefore we need to be creating something that is secure, available, and controlled ethically.
Here are some best practices to implement an effective data strategy that I want to share with you:
Assess your company’s dependence on data:
Traditionally data and the systems used to manage, store, and protect it, have been viewed as solely the CIO’s purview. But data access depends on business continuity, which must be a priority for the entire C-suite.
The relentless rise of ransomware and other security threats are no longer just CIO or CISO concern – they are CEO and board-level priorities. As a result, security and IT professionals alike are increasingly looking to companies like Commvault to help protect, prevent, and recover from these cyber-attacks.
Knowing where ALL your data is:
Organisations were forced to ‘go remote’ with technology that didn’t lend itself to remote, policies that weren’t designed to be high-touch (access controls, data centres, on-prem everything and so on). On top of all this staffing shortages, shrinking budgets, project backloads, and the threat of ransomware attacks continue to place even more pressure on IT professionals and further add risk to the business overall.
Additionally, as many of our customers straddle both on-prem and cloud environments, they need a solution that can flex and scale to meet their evolving needs. Having moved several exabytes of customer data to the cloud over the past few years, we enable this transformation. It is our competitive advantage.
Reducing complexity in the IT environment: Eliminating data fragmentations and reducing complexity in the IT environment gives the freedom and flexibility of choice to address your business integrity gaps and grow. This is the gap between the pace of innovation and the risks of trying to transform without the right tools and strategies This enables easier, more effective data management—making data an asset instead of a problem.
Give your organisation choice and flexibility: Today, 100 percent of our customers are in some form of transit with their data and infrastructure. They want less complexity, more security, ransomware protection, and immutable copies in the cloud, helping meet all their workload requirements. Having options provides you with flexibility and choice. All organisations should have the choice in how they manage their cloud and on-prem environments.
How prepared are organisations in APAC to build privacy and ethics while using data?
I’ll call myself an observer and not an expert on this. We created the internationalisation of Commvault about five months ago, so I was spending most of my time in the Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) region, to learn from, listen to, and meet customers for our expansion. From the privacy point of view, in terms of regulation, for sure Japan, New Zealand and South Korea are leading the path, followed by countries in regions like the European Union that implement their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goals, followed by Australia that has implemented interesting and secure regulatory routes. There are companies who would rather give money to remove ransomware after an attack, rather than spend money to protect themselves from a ransomware attack. It’s probably still a matter of awareness in developing countries, especially. In the constantly evolving landscape of ransomware, not all organisations are prepared to understand the importance of having protection systems in place. Technology is only part of the story, you need to have people, processes, and procedures that are following that technology or are opening up the way for further implementation of technology.
It’s interesting to see the different trends in the market. For sure there is an opportunity in something that will create possibilities for people to find new jobs, and at the same time is very risky, when the companies are not dealing with ransomware in the right way.
What is the importance of data discovery and intelligence in addressing security challenges?
This market is an interesting target for attackers, at least 28 percent of it. It’s very important for customers to have a methodological approach, in a way, helping them classify their data. So, which data is relevant for my business, which data I need to survive in case of attacks, which type of application is arriving through this data that has to be protected, there is a sort of identification of the priorities. To implement policies, processes, and procedures just against ransomware is not enough in terms of enhancing capabilities for the software and the people. It’s not that simple, but in essence it’s all about restarting from another place with the same data.
To implement the ransomware approach by implementing tools and technologies to prevent the same, that are protecting your data, what you’re recognising as the most important aspects of your data, and to understand the importance of testing. Testing helps you understand the real reaction of the people. The people are the most important part of the process. We are doing a lot of emergency tests where we are in a building or a house where everything is fine. Why not test what happens in case of an actual ransomware attack? In essence, all the customers I’ve talked to are implementing an air gap solution. They are going to detach the data and compose them virtually and physically in different data centres. Depending on the directness of your environment, every business should implement data strategies that benefit their model. We have services that are capable of empowering our customers to answer these questions.
Could you tell us about the latest data protection and information management solutions that Commvault has developed, and the company’s strategy for the APAC market?
At Commvault, we started our journey about 26 years ago. We have been into data management since day one, and it’s one of our major focuses. We are also very proud because we were recognised as a leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Centre Backup and Recovery Solutions. Behind the story of this award, there are some details I’d like to share. The type of scores that we have received for specific use cases, because at the end, it’s very important for us to address customer needs and especially when we are talking about enterprise business. Consider that after 26 years, we can say confidently that we have one of the best solution development strategies for private customers. When I say solutions, those encompass unique features, speed, and capabilities to compress data. We aim to cover all the workload in the market, several of them customised, to the native workload in the cloud to the data recently released by application vendors.
A few years ago, observing the market, there was a clear shift into a software-as-a-service (SaaS) market. Therefore, we decided to go into SaaS data management strategies, to create a fresh SaaS strategy ourselves, and create the same on Azure. We are providing our customers with this solution, which will cover in principle workloads such as 365 dynamics and endpoint. Building these solutions from scratch in the last two years, and achieving a growth of over 50 million in INR in less than two years from launch, has been our trajectory.
Commvault also decided to invest in and create not only an important partnership with Microsoft to build these solutions, but we also recently announced another important partnership with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and pride ourselves on being one of the few companies helping protect data in the cloud infrastructure. For us, the strategy of developing partnerships is the most important because we want to serve our customers in the best way that we know. Our motive is to build the best technology solutions and leverage the ecosystem that is surrounding the support of this.
The interpretative value of data provides immense scope for evaluating business processes. What role does data analytics play in the evolution of business success?
The creation of big data itself is not important. What’s important is the correlation between the data and what the customer or user can leverage from it to be more competitive. Data is also becoming more important because it is everywhere. IoT data is completely changing the way we do business in the chain of productions, especially in manufacturing. In the old manufacturing market, the capability to analyse, and understand which type of data to use, and notice the signs that are important to building that data, and make decisions based on that data before their competitors, was almost impossible. With the availability of it, there is a time to market. It’s easy to say and difficult to implement at scale if you’re not using the right tools and solutions. Again, the real game is the time to market. If you’re creating infrastructure, to put value through the data, but the data is not readily available, you won’t have the right capability to add what you want to add in time. You’ll lose time and money, and the hard work you put into developing a strategy around it.
The gap between the theoretical usage of big data and the real usage of big data still exists. And so, I feel that you should interact with your customers regularly just to analyse where the situation is and how it can be evolved.
Before we bid adieu, Marco, mention some trends in data management that will shape the industry for the future.
The trends in the industry are driven by the market. The pandemic situation forced us to work remote and now remote working is becoming the norm. So, the data spreads across the edge of the network, it’s one of the opportunities we have but it’s also one of the issues that is created because that sort of data is not in the same data centre as before. The interoperability between the cloud and data centre will be crucial for the future, because the data growth is going to be immense. Therefore, the interoperability between these two worlds to be considered as a user will be crucial for the success of companies that are using humongous amounts of data.
The question of ‘who’ is owning the data will also arise. Who’s paying to use the data, who’s receiving it, every customer can become the provider of data if well-structured. In the IT trend, we’re looking at data protection, ransomware, cloud interoperability, kubernetes development and protection, these are the emerging trends. The real question is, who’s leaking the data? If I have a data lake between the government, the insurance, the car owner, and who’s managing the street, they’re all connected. If an accident happens, who owns the data, who is accountable for it, who do I have to ultimately pay using the service? This is why big companies are running to acquire data for free, and why we have so many services for free. Customer profiling is already happening through their data to build fast-paced capabilities and solutions that suit their needs, and predict the future. It’s interesting to see what will happen in the future.