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Technical Insight: Container Data Protection Fundamentals

Last updated March 25th, 2021. In this free Technical Insight report, Sr. Analyst Krista Macomber helps IT navigate the challenges around container data protection. Download this free report now!

Containers are moving into production usage, with modern applications that support critical operational functions being developed on containers. As a result, containers are moving away from being ephemeral throwaway resources, into a business-critical infrastructure requiring persistent data storage. For business continuity, compliance, and security purposes, container-based applications and their data are maturing into requiring enterprise class protection.

It can be difficult, though, for IT professionals to know where to begin. Container environments operate differently than the physical and virtual environments that IT teams are used to protecting – necessitating a different approach to protection. Wading through the number of tools, technologies and vendors that are available on the market for container protection is not an easy ask. And far from least importantly, many organizations face hurdles to container protection related to personnel and perceptions. This paper aims to help IT professionals navigate these challenges so they can establish a successful container protection strategy.


What are the Challenges with Protecting Containers?

Arguably the biggest challenge related to protecting containers is that the individuals driving adoption of containers are not cloud operations or IT teams. They are developers that do not have – and, frankly, should not need to have – expertise or focus on data protection or IT infrastructure. Their job is to create code, and to drive new applications as well as updates to applications into production. This follows a long-held trend of data protection being an afterthought as new architectures and applications are adopted; it simply falls down the list of priorities until it is needed. Another dynamic is that developers do not want to have to go through IT for every restore or copy – but at the same time, IT operations cannot ensure developers follow rules and best practices. This means that there needs to be a balance of autonomy for developers and control for IT.

Exacerbating the organizational dynamics is the fact that container infrastructures and Kubernetes clusters are architected for high availability for the application. For some, this creates a false sense of inherent business continuity. The reality, however, is that backups and other forms of protection are required in order to recover from events such as cyberattacks, erronous or malicious deletion, and system outages. Additionally, replication is required for migrating entire clusters between test/dev and protection environments, and between different Kubernetes distributions and underlying infrastructure. Finally, there is the issue of compliance. Mission-critical production data faces mandates for protection, controlled access, and long-term retention that must be adhered to.


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