Cobalt Iron’s Rodney Foreman on COVID-19 and Data Protection

Solutions Review recently had the opportunity to speak with Cobalt Iron Chief Revenue Officer, Rodney Foreman. Cobalt Iron provides data protection solutions, data management capabilities, and scale-out architecture. With over two decades years of experience in the enterprise tech space, Foreman was able to offer insight into how COVID-19 is impacting data protection currently and how they will change going forward.

How is COVID-19 impacting data protection practices?  

Most of the IT staff is now working from home and many have been furloughed. Many major service providers are renegotiating SLAs on backup frequency and recovery times. The need to save costs is prevalent, even if this means changing providers or the data protection solution in whole. This is driving the need for SaaS-based solutions that are automated and require less human intervention.  We are also seeing an increase in ransomware attacks to the backup environment which brings solutions that have integrated security more into focus.  The labor requirement for traditional backup solutions has become very apparent to CIOs over the past months. 

What is the biggest challenge the coronavirus pandemic has created for data professionals?  

The need for AI and BI with access to real-time data is more prevalent.  Also, the spotlight is on data more than ever as the corporation’s most important asset that must be protected. Typically, maintaining backup systems is very labor-intensive, and reducing labor puts a strain on maintaining these systems. A more mature and modern data protection solution that is a true platform for backup and recovery in a SaaS delivery model is needed now more than ever.  Many companies have bought or acquired several backup solutions in their environment over time.  This is a great time to consolidate into one solution that provides a single user interface and is delivered in a true SaaS model.

 How can businesses protect their data from ransomware or phishing attacks during this time?  

The top target for ransomware attacks today is the backup environment. It is the one location where all the customer data resides. Unfortunately, most backup and recovery solutions require additional security software. A solution that incorporates ransomware security within the data protection software is the best way to go today. Integration is key to making sure your data is protected. The solution must incorporate containment by design. Secure isolation of data is by far the most important protection against ransomware. This can be accomplished with the following; Humanless Operations, Individual Encryption contexts, transport encryption, and secondary copy without enterprise network connectivity. Worm-by-default. All data ingested is read-only. Data is never deleted, only expired by policy. These are attributes of a best of breed solution that has ransomware protection as an integrated component of the data protection software.

How do you think data backup and protection practices will change in the future as a result of COVID-19? 

The need for a SaaS-based solution that is automated is required. The complexities of backup operations have become very apparent during this pandemic and the labor associated with the old traditional backup solutions is simply unacceptable.  The days of backup solutions that require a lot of manual labor are gone.  This is the case for customers and MSPs alike.  A platform for data protection is needed today with a modern delivery mechanism.  By industry, there will be many changes, especially in health care.  Many sectors of the health care system have pivoted to focus on COVID-19 services, including hospital systems and hospitals. On the other hand, other sectors, mostly specialty providers of non-emergent services, have substantially cut back services or even closed.  Again, labor-intensive backup and recovery solutions will not emerge on top during this pandemic.  They will be replaced with SaaS-based automated and secure solutions.

Tess Hanna
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