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The biggest lesson for 2023 is to ‘expect the unexpected!’: Balaji Rao, Area Vice President, India & SAARC, Commvault

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Balaji Rao, Area Vice President, India & SAARC, Commvault talks about their newly introduced Metallic ThreatWise and its future in India. He also shares that Ransomware, cloud migration, and digital transformation will remain top priorities for leaders in 2023

1. What were your key learnings/takeaways from the year 2022?

In 2022, organisations realised the power of data, extracted actionable insights, and instilled innovation to develop better strategies. There was an increased need for speed, agility, and security to ensure the smooth functioning of business operations. Commvault witnessed a high adoption rate of a cyber resilient framework across organisations. Today’s business landscape operates with a variety of workloads and storage platforms across their premises and cloud. In such a scenario, Data Management-as-a-service (DMaaS) helps organisations to keep control of their data to ensure that IT infrastructures remain compliant and cost-effective.

It has been a trying time for the security industry in the face of increased uncertainty and constantly evolving cyber-attacks. Against the innumerable sophisticated cyber-attacks on organisations across India, security professionals have displayed exceptional resilience over the past 12 months. It has further propelled the data protection and management industry to rethink the trajectory of businesses for the next few years.

The biggest lesson for 2023 is to ‘expect the unexpected!’. It is time for organisations to adopt a proactive cybersecurity strategy and address security risks before an attack occurs. It has become necessary to imbibe data protection in the company’s culture and approach 2023 with a heightened defense plan.

2. What major challenges will C- suite leaders face in 2023?

Major challenges that leaders will witness in 2023 are a volatile economic landscape coupled with significant skill shortage, data privacy, and security.

Economic uncertainty: 2023 will be a difficult year economically for all organizations, leading many enterprises to seek opportunities for cost reductions. There will inevitably be cutbacks and ultimately some failures, and partners and customers will be reluctant to adopt solutions from vendors that do not have a clear path forward. Top-of-mind issues for CIOs and CTOs will be moving from cloud migration to cloud rationalisation and consolidation for balancing their priorities in an uncertain economy.

Skill shortage: The constant shifting of data workloads will leave most organizations without the in-house skills to keep up with the changing platforms and services they are depending on to drive their business forward and remain competitive. As the current workforces’ skill set becomes dated and with no budgets for upskilling, it will become increasingly difficult for companies to recruit new and fresh talent into the IT industry.

Data privacy: In recent years, the desire of people worldwide to take charge of how their data is held and utilized has become more pronounced. Forecasts suggest that by 2023 roughly two-thirds of the world’s population will have some form of privacy protection in place concerning their information.

Cyberattacks: To make matters worse, cyber-attacks and ransomware incidents have been on the rise, bringing data protection and compliance issues to the forefront, not just to protect individuals’ Personally Identifying Information (PII) but also the risk of exposing a company’s confidential information such as intellectual property and trade secrets by means of a breach. A recent study by Commvault-IDC revealed that close to 49 percent of Indian enterprises cited malicious attacks damaging their backup and data recovery. Threat vectors are constantly modernising their tools with extreme extortion tactics for maximum impact. We are bound to witness data exfiltration, data leakage, file sync piggybacking, and ransom cloud attacks in this new age of threat vectors. Companies that can consolidate their cross-organisational data safeguarding and management onto innovative platforms to economise and evade superfluous supplier increases will not just make it through the year to come but also succeed.

3. What should be the key focus areas for leaders in 2023?

Ransomware, cloud migration, and digital transformation will remain top priorities, while other areas of business will likely be deprioritized. This transformation is already well underway, and many organisations will need to take advantage of environments, such as the public cloud to help them automate many of the processes that historically required human beings. Orchestration and automation technologies will also go a long way towards helping with this transition by integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning into their solutions. This has been adopted widely throughout the past year to help plug the skills gap, but with costs set to rise to unprecedented levels it will continue to grow in 2023 as a solution to reducing costs whilst keeping systems running.

To address this, businesses will be turning towards the options that provide the broadest possible spectrum of support for data protection and data management. This will ensure that the data platforms of the organisations change, the solutions not only can keep pace, but already provide the needed coverage. Business leaders will have to evaluate their data framework with a five-fold concentration – scalability, flexibility, agility, security, and cost – to ensure data resiliency, adaptability, and safety. Data defense and supervision will take utmost importance for executives; significant expenses of IT funding will then be used to foresee, locate, and repair damage due to anticipated cyberattacks. The enterprise security toolbox of organisations will therefore require data protection and recovery.

In 2023, cyber deception technology will gain market share as data breaches become more common, resulting in organisations implementing a proactive, multi-pronged approach to protect their infrastructures. This will enable organisations to adapt and transform with significantly less friction as they don’t need to revisit data protection and management with each step. It will also support several other initiatives such as sustainability and ESG, as it enables the consolidation of tools and reduction of infrastructure and consumption of other resources such as the power and water that fuel that infrastructure.

4. Commvault recently introduced Metallic ThreatWise. What is its future in India?

The alarming pace of recent ransomware incidents has raised a series of red flags and sent a clear message to CISOs and business leaders that data protection procedures must be overhauled. Organisations must realign their strategies to implement a proactive, multi-pronged approach to protect their infrastructure. Cyber deception has become an imperative for organisations as part of this renaissance of cybersecurity strategies.

Deception technology as a core cybersecurity strategy holds tremendous potential to dupe attackers into their trap, outwitting them effectively. Though cyber deception is a relatively new approach to cybersecurity, it is emerging as a viable alternative, thus, acting as a reliable cyberweapon that strengthens an enterprise’s defense capability by protecting the organization’s network and putting in place fake cues. The global market for Deception Technology is predicted to grow at a 12.2 percent CAGR by 2028. As businesses aspire to succeed in the digital era, there will be a significant need for data protection solutions with a critical focus on cyber deception.

With our latest addition of ThreatWise to our Metallic portfolio, we take a comprehensive approach to an integrated data protection strategy – boosting recoverability before encryption, leakage, exfiltration, or damage. Through Metallic Threatwise, the next generation of intelligent data services is ushered in with game-changing early warning signals and rapid response capabilities that enable clients to detect hidden threats and neutralize them before they cause harm.

5. What other data management trends do you foresee gaining momentum in 2023?

Data has become an asset for organizations and managing and protecting it effectively is becoming increasingly vital. The sheer volume of data generated and collected daily can make it difficult for organisations to extract value from it. Additionally, the shortage of talent coupled with managing data governance from a security and ethical point of view is becoming a significant concern for businesses.

Data management will remain in the spotlight in 2023 with corporate leaders striving to invest in the right technologies while developing a strong team of data professionals with the right skills. The need for data protection and data recoverability will soar with an increase in cloud investments and the rise of new-age threat vectors. Organisations will also be increasingly adopting SaaS security posture management in 2023 based on the rapid growth of cloud adoption. As per the recent Commvault-IDC survey, 71 percent of organisations cited backup/ DR as a number one priority for cloud investments in the coming two years. With the new draught of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, India is undergoing a tremendous digital renovation, and we will see vital dialogues to strengthen the data privacy environment.

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