The Last Mile of Virtualization
Virtualization has been one of the biggest shifts over the last year and will continue to influence IT in 2011. Companies everywhere are achieving the benefits of virtualization by reducing the number of servers in their environments. While virtualization decreases server costs, organizations are realizing virtualization is simultaneously increasing management costs, and without a plan to protect these environments, they may not realize the full ROI.

While many companies believe the information and applications within their virtual infrastructure is protected, many IT administrators will face the harsh reality that it is not. The rapid adoption, yet fragmented implementation and lack of standardization when it comes to virtual infrastructure will expose gaps in the security and backup of virtual environments over the next year. According to a new Gartner survey, 67 percent of respondents said server virtualization topped the list of technology investments in 2011. In addition, the ability to backup and recover applications and data from both physical and virtual environments with a single solution will help organizations reduce overall costs and IT complexity.

Gap in Disaster Recovery for Virtual Environments
The number of applications and amount of data in virtual environments will grow significantly in 2011, increasing the need for disaster recovery solutions that protect these applications. The 2010 Symantec Disaster Recovery Survey found that while a little more than half of data within virtual systems is regularly backed up, there is significant room for improvement. The majority of respondents stated that virtualization has led them to reevaluate their disaster recovery plans and only 40 percent of their virtualized environments are protected in their current DR plans.

In the event of a disaster, 60 percent of an organization’s data that is stored in virtual environments may not be recoverable because organizations have failed to implement data protection technologies. Remembering that virtual machine protection carries with it the same expectation that customers have of physical environments, organizations should implement disaster recovery technologies to ensure their mission-critical data in virtual environments is protected from everyday business risks to devastating disasters.

Regain Control of Information Retention
Storage administrators must lose their ‘pack rat’ mentality and categorize what information is MOST important in 2011. The near infinite level of data retention is causing storage costs to skyrocket, extensive recovery times and e-Discovery nightmares across organizations of all sizes. According to the Symantec Information Management Survey 2010, 87 percent of respondents believe an information management strategy should allow deletion of unnecessary information. However, respondents cited that 75 percents of backups have infinite retention or are on legal hold and 40 percent of those backups are not even relevant to litigation. In 2011, organizations will re-evaluate their retention needs and automate their information management strategy to keep backups for 30 to 60 days, archive for long term storage and delete everything else.

Cloud Storage Grows Up
The cloud will greatly change the way services are delivered in 2011. More organizations will leverage public and private clouds as they become highly available. As we head into 2011, enterprises will require the ability to manage storage resources whether they’re local, campus wide, multi-campus, global or in the cloud. Tools will emerge to manage this new complex storage environment and to help IT administrators better understand and capture information about unstructured data that resides within it. This will allow IT to fully utilize the benefits of the cloud and intelligently report to management.

The hybrid cloud archiving model will also be adopted to allow organizations to use hosted messaging services while keeping their archives on-premise to drive cost out of the discovery process, maintain strict access to data, and define who is searching it and where they are sending requests.

The Right to Choose: Appliances, Software and Cloud
While software continues to drive innovation, 2011 will bring new delivery models in response to customer need to ease IT operations. Cloud computing, hosted services and appliances are examples of increasingly attractive delivery models that provide organizations with flexibility and ease of deployment. In 2011, organizations can expect to tackle agility, technology and storage optimization through unified storage devices with security and backup cloud access.

Consolidation and the Next Generation Data Center
Consolidation is top of mind for the IT industry and organizations will redefine what their data centers look like in 2011 to manage the pressures to reduce costs while protecting data. Whether the consolidation involves a physical move, virtualization, decommissioning, or any combination thereof, organizations need to manage the risks and complexity of data center consolidation. In addition, organizations must ensure information and applications are protected and available during consolidation to avoid unplanned downtime and data loss. It’s no secret that as we head into 2011, consolidation will be a top theme.

Social Media
The way we collaborate in the enterprise will change in 2011 as organizations have started to leverage more social media to improve communication and productivity throughout the enterprise. However, IT organizations will also need to understand how to protect and manage these non-standard applications for recovery and discovery of business information that is communicated in these outlets. Social media archiving will grow in importance as companies unleash the power of social business but maintain archiving as a form of control to reduce information risk.