The Integrator talks to Fadi Kanafani, Regional Director Middle East & Africa
Q1. What should be the data fabric of an organization to maximize the benefits that big data promises?
A1. Only recently, big data has been recognized by a number of companies across industries as an opportunity to get ahead of the market competition. It has become a key business driver, affording organizations with new insights and the power to better strategize their business direction to achieve sustainable growth. With the emerging artificial intelligence revolution, we expect to see the role of big data becoming even more critical in the near future.
The big data infrastructure and software requirements are understandably complex. Enterprises need a system capable of collecting information from hundreds and thousands of sources, storing it efficiently, transporting it to where it’s needed, working with it for analysis and pattern recognition purposes, to name a few, and keeping it safe in compliance with existing laws and regulations.
Recognizing this complexity, NetApp’s Data Fabric is a strategy and suite of solutions designed to help organizations tap into the benefits of big data. It provides the data management foundation for data collecting endpoints such as sensors. It offers smart functionalities for storing data on-premises and feeding powerful AI solutions. It integrates with the largest public clouds and ensures compliance with important legal frameworks such as the GDPR. In short, Data Fabric changes the data game.
Q2. With constantly evolving cyber threats, what are the must-have security measures that organizations must take?
A2. In our fight against cyberattacks, employees, first and foremost, are the first line of defence. It is thus important to give them critical training to empower and equip them with the right information and skills to combat costly online network breaches.
As part of proactive security measures, it also helps to combine relevant employee training programs with several cutting-edge, clever technologies designed to protect an enterprise’s information technology (IT) infrastructure from malicious attacks. Some of these include:
- Backup (on-premises or in the cloud)
- Snapshots for minimal RPO without production impact
- Data encryption
- GDPR compliance (or other local frameworks)
It’s also noteworthy that cloud-like and software-defined service provisioning internally does away with many reasons for shadow IT. Therefore, HCI and public cloud integration are such a great proposition for CIOs as they deliver great value and lower risk exposure. Lastly, NetApp provides functionalities that are crucial for cloud service providers, for instance multi-tenant shared storage with encryption or SaaS Backup. Encryption allows cloud providers to meet disaster recovery and archival requirements without compromising clients’ data security.
Q3. How should organizations choose cloud environments to maximize performance while ensuring security of assets?
A3. The key is to choose a flexible solution that addresses enterprises’ unique data needs, while providing the option to move back and forth and not be stuck with one approach. For example, data can be stored on-premises in a cloud-like environment that can be highly performant (flash) or super simple and automated (HCI), or highly integrated with the public cloud of choice. With our cloud infrastructure, cloud data services solutions, and proven data management software, we address all these requirements with the option to constantly optimize the deployment and service model.
The bottom line is cloud is not always cheap and not always secure. Enterprises need to rely on a service such as the Cloud Value Management offering or tap into the expertise of a partner to find the best cloud strategy for them and then deploy the infrastructure and services to support it.
The answers can be, for example, a fully-managed, cloud-native file storage service in the public cloud such as NetApp Cloud Volumes. Or, maybe something like NetApp Private Storage, which allows enterprises to take advantage of the public cloud for computing power while the data itself never moves out of the controlled, co-located environment. Or, a powerful private cloud built on NetApp HCI, with the ease of consumption of the public cloud delivered on-premises.
Q4. In view of BYOD, what steps must businesses take to ensure endpoint security?
A4. In the light of the growing BYOD practices, companies must implement appropriate strategies and processes— including building a secure IT infrastructure for customer data and identity protection that effectively addresses concerns about endpoint security.
There are many steps that can be taken regarding this end. Data encryption and investment in advanced technologies are among these measures, in addition to deployment of an awareness campaign program for employees and implementation of a mobile device management system for multiple mobile devices. It is really all about robust CIO strategy and processes.
NetApp provides the strongest storage security solutions available today to help prevent unauthorized modification or disclosure of data stored across the enterprise. NetApp solutions not only support key data security and compliance initiatives, but they also help businesses address data privacy requirements, regulatory compliance, secure storage consolidation and multi-tenant needs, intellectual property protection, and secure information sharing.
Q5. Given that the MEA region is a hotbed for cyberattacks, what must businesses do to ensure data privacy and integrity?
A5. Businesses should always bear in mind that privacy protection is not something to be solved by technology alone. It must be backed by strong privacy rules and processes. Businesses need a holistic data strategy and approach that includes both technological and non-technological aspects such as data privacy, employee sensitization, data integrity, cloud security, data protection, and CIO strategies, among others. Safety and security is paramount. Today we have the technology to deliver this without compromising on the business potential of data.
In NetApp’s case, the company helps organizations move on-premises applications that rely on files services to hybrid cloud and cloud-only models by collaborating with top hyperscale cloud providers to pioneer the delivery of enterprise network file system (NFS) services in the cloud. NetApp also provides Data Fabric to optimize the value of data in the cloud, whether customers run an on-premises IT environment that’s poised for cloud capabilities or are already using hybrid or public cloud infrastructures.