All insights

Building an Unbreakable Data Infrastructure in the Age of AI and Hybrid Cloud

Octavian Tanase Octavian Tanase
Chief Product Officer

April 18, 2024

The relentless push for business and digital transformation has put data at the forefront of organizational success. It fuels innovation, drives growth, and shapes competitive landscapes. However, the ever-increasing volume and complexity of safeguarding data pose significant challenges for businesses. This piece explores the importance of data protection and cyber resiliency in securing your most valuable asset.

The Data Deluge and its Implications

The global datasphere is projected to reach a staggering 180 zettabytes by 2025. This exponential growth presents a multi-faceted challenge for tech leaders. According to Gartner®, “by 2027, more than 50% of enterprise-managed data will be created and processed outside the data center or cloud, which is a major increase from 20% in 2023.” So as data grows, so will your data protection concerns.

Ransomware is not a rare phenomenon; the dark web infrastructure has become vicious and targets any businesses from start-ups to large enterprise​. Remote data access and management surged up by 3X, causing multilayer vulnerability​. Meanwhile, the cost of downtime due to cyberattacks has skyrocketed: Healthcare $636,000 per hour; energy $2.48 million per hour; and brokerage service industry $6.48 million per hour, per Pingdom.

With the continued explosion of data, accelerated by Gen AI, data sprawl and fragmentation will create additional complexity. Data will increasingly reside across diverse environments and locations, from centralized databases to cloud environments and personal devices, making management and security increasingly complex. With that, the threat landscape will also evolve. Cybercriminals are constantly developing sophisticated methods to exploit vulnerabilities and steal sensitive information. Meaning, organizations will have to remain vigilant and constantly adapt their security strategies accordingly.

How exposed are we? Ransomware is expected to attack a business every 2 seconds by 2031, up from every 11 seconds in 2021, according to cybersecurity ventures.

Where do we start?

Building an unbreakable data infrastructure is a complex challenge. There are many internal and external variables involved and we will never be able to control all of them. However, it is possible to get to a place that is “secure” within the context of a landscape that is continually and rapidly changing. The question is though, when you're designing your data protection policies, when you're designing your unbreakable data infrastructure, what is good enough? There is no shortage of techniques and technologies you can deploy from replication to redundancy, from snapshots to backup, from firewalls to erasure coding.

At the same as with everything else in life, there is a cost associated with keeping data, storing it, and protecting it. And it may be a cost that may not be appropriate across the board for all your data assets. So, it seems logical that the first step in designing your unbreakable data infrastructure is to actually identify the data assets you have, the risk profile of your data assets and who has access to them.

A New Approach to Data Protection and Cyber Resilience

At Hitachi Vantara, we take a proactive approach to safeguarding our customers’ data. Whether it’s in the data center, in the cloud or at the edge – and regardless of which vendor’s solution it runs on, to ensure that their critical production and backup data is always available and always protected.

We worked with ShanDong Telecom, part of China Telecom, to help them manage their rapidly growing unstructured data. It is the largest fixed-line service and the third largest mobile telecommunications provider in the People’s Republic of China.​ For greater data security and to manage rapid growth of unstructured data, Shandong Telecom moved from a tape library (NBU) to a Hitachi data protection and object storage solution and improved efficiency in backup and recovery by over 30% which resulted in an estimated savings of nearly US $1 million over 3 years.

“Since implementing the Hitachi Content Platform, we improved efficiency of backup and recovery by over 30%, we don’t worry about passing a KPI evaluation,” said Zhao Mingming, IT Operation and Maintenance Manager, ​ShanDong Telecom.

Securing Your Data: A Multi-Layered Defense

Building a robust and secure data infrastructure requires a layered defense system, meticulously designed to address both technical and strategic considerations. The first line of defense lies in implementing strong technical safeguards.

Let's explore some key technical safeguards that can act as essential building blocks, providing a foundation for comprehensive data protection.

Technical Safeguards

  • Replication: Ensures continuous operation of critical applications by maintaining synchronized copies of data in geographically dispersed locations.
  • Backup and Recovery: Provides a reliable safety net through regular backups at the point of origin, enabling swift recovery from data loss or corruption.
  • Immutable Storage: Safeguards data by preventing any modifications, ensuring a tamper-proof copy for recovery, and mitigating the impact of ransomware or accidental changes.
  • Data Encryption: Renders data unreadable to unauthorized users, even if intercepted, safeguarding sensitive information.
  • Access Controls: Granular access controls restrict data access based on user roles and permissions, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Network Security: Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other security measures protect against unauthorized access attempts and malicious activities.

Beyond Technology: The Human Element Plays a Key Role

While technology plays a critical role, building a secure data foundation requires a human-centric approach. Executive leadership must champion data security, by fostering a culture of awareness and accountability within the organization. In doing so, they can drive cross-functional collaboration between IT, security teams, and business units to ensure alignment and effective implementation of data protection strategies. And by encouraging a culture of continuous learning, improvement, and knowledge sharing, they can enable the organization to stay abreast of evolving threats and best practices.

Technical safeguards are a critical foundation for data security, but they are not enough on their own. To build a truly secure data environment, organizations need to establish a strong security culture with well-defined policies and procedures.

  • Data Governance: Establish clear policies and procedures for data classification, access control, and usage, ensuring responsible data management practices.
  • Security Awareness: Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness through regular training programs, empowering employees to identify and report suspicious activities.
  • Vulnerability Management: Proactively identify and address vulnerabilities in systems and applications through regular assessments and patching.
  • Incident Response: Develop and implement a comprehensive incident response plan to effectively respond to security breaches and minimize damage.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Improvement: Continuously monitor security posture, identify emerging threats, and adapt strategies to maintain a proactive defense.

AI's Role in Data Protection

While AI will greatly contribute to data growth, it has the power to play a crucial role in data protection. Building a robust and secure data infrastructure requires a layered defense system, meticulously designed to address both technical and strategic considerations.

  • Automated Threat Detection and Response: AI-powered systems can analyze vast amounts of data to identify anomalies and suspicious activities in real-time, enabling faster and more effective threat detection and response.
  • Data Anonymization and Privacy Protection: AI can be used to anonymize sensitive data while preserving its utility for analytics, ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations.
  • Predictive Security Analytics: AI algorithms can learn from past security incidents and historical data to predict potential threats and vulnerabilities, enabling proactive security measures.

Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure: Building a Secure Data Foundation

A hybrid cloud infrastructure offers several advantages for building a secure and proactive approach to data by enabling flexibility and scalability. Organizations can leverage the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public cloud for non-critical data, while keeping sensitive information in secure private cloud environments. They can also enhance data protection by implementing robust security controls across both public and private cloud environments, providing a layered defense against cyber threats.

In addition, hybrid cloud can equip leaders to ramp up data discovery during the most critical times. By replicating data across different cloud environments, organizations can ensure faster recovery times in case of disruptions or outages.

The Road Ahead: A Continuous Journey, not a Destination

Building an unbreakable data infrastructure is not a one-time endeavor, but an ongoing journey of continuous improvement. By adopting a holistic and proactive approach that integrates technology, strategy, human elements, and the power of AI and hybrid cloud infrastructure, organizations can navigate the ever-changing threat landscape and safeguard their valuable data assets. Remember, true resilience lies not in achieving a static state of "unbreak ability," but in the constant pursuit of vigilance, adaptation, and proactive defense for an ever-evolving technology landscape.

By embracing this mindset, we can collectively build data fortresses that empower innovation, foster trust, and drive sustainable success in the digital age.

Click here to learn how to build an unbreakable data infrastructure powered by Hitachi Vantara’s technology.

  • Gartner, Market Guide for Hybrid Cloud Storage, Julia Palmer, Chandra Mukhyala, 6 March 2024.  GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Octavian Tanase

Octavian Tanase

Octavian is a University of California, Berkeley graduate and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.