Sergey Nivens - Fotolia
Backing up crucial data is nothing new for enterprises, but the places where data lives are changing. With the bring-your-own-device trend in full bloom, data must be protected on mobile devices, too.
More businesses are looking to cloud backup for reliable, off-site data protection and to eliminate single point of failure associated with physical backup methods. Cloud providers can help companies with mobile data backup concerns by offering options for securing data on employee's personal devices, as well as corporate-owned devices.
Hybrid cloud options well-suited for mobile data backup
Many companies have traditionally restricted employees from saving data to mobile devices, but as remote working and bring your own device (BYOD) have become more commonplace, employees are saving valuable data locally to their personal devices.
Employees are not always attached to the corporate network, and making employees responsible for saving their information to the company file server is no longer realistic, said Rachel Dines, senior analyst for infrastructure and operations at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc.
About 80% of employees are using personal devices to access corporate information now, but 65% of business customers currently are not backing up employee-owned devices or data to the cloud, according to Acronis, a Woburn, Mass.-based backup and disaster recovery provider.
Even if enterprises ban corporate data and applications from personal devices, employees are working around those policies, said Scott Crenshaw, senior vice president of strategy and chief marketing officer at Acronis.
"As [companies] deal with the proliferation of advanced mobile devices … and as enterprise infrastructure moves to virtual and cloud environments, the technologies, practices and policies for data protection have not been put in place – that's a big area for substantial risk," Crenshaw said.
Hybrid cloud-based backup services can preserve data and add additional security.
"We are seeing a mad scramble from business customers to keep up with BYOD, and the budgets to do it," he said. Acronis offers customers the ability to back up data locally, and then move data asynchronously from the local storage into the cloud to provide off-site protection and lower long-term storage costs.
This hybrid cloud architecture allows for BYOD data to be quickly backed up locally, and then to the cloud to reduce latency. "Hybrid solutions can be the key to growing adoption of cloud backup for mobile devices," Crenshaw said.
BYOD backup not for every customer
Even though some employees are using their devices to access corporate data, they aren't always saving information on their device, said Michael Suby, vice president of research at the Stratecast division of San Antonio-based Frost & Sullivan Inc. "Some devices are bringing down data from the cloud, but it exists and stays in the cloud," he said.
"It's a question of device and how it's used, as well as what [employees] have access to," he said.
More on mobile data backup
Using continuous data protection for device backup
Users talk mobile device backup and recovery options
Data backup and recovery plans for mobile devices
Although BYOD backup is not a priority for all businesses, cloud providers must help their customers protect data wherever it is -- including employee-owned endpoints, Suby said.
Cloud providers could profit from offering endpoint backup to companies with a large number of highly mobile users, Forrester's Dines said.
"Instead of sending data back to corporate headquarters, the least disruptive back-up method for remote and road workers is backing up to a local cloud provider," she said.
But device backup has been primarily a reactive measure -- usually employed only after an employee loses a device that contained sensitive information -- rather than part of the initial data protection strategy of business customers, Dines said.
Cloud providers should be engaging enterprises about how much critical data is being stored on endpoints, and how it can be protected, she said.
"[Cloud providers] offering a solution that can do rule-based permissions for certain file types -- like backing up only Microsoft office files and not photos on employee devices -- would be the best way to encourage customers to back up mobile devices."