5 Top Trends in the Backup and Recovery Job Market

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Backup and recovery have been an integral part of the IT and storage world for many decades. During that time, their importance has waxed and waned. Until recently, backup was considered by some to be a low-priority, must-be-done action. Enterprises knew they needed backups, but they wanted to focus on other areas, such as application development, software-as-a-service (SaaS), the cloud, virtualization, and actions that led to real business value.

That has shifted over the past couple of years in parallel with the rise of ransomware and the alarming increase in the number of data breaches. Too often have enterprises, being held at ransom, looked to their backups to dig them out of a financial hole, only to be disappointed. The backups were either incomplete, missing entirely, corrupted, or the backup files had also been infected with malware.

Here are the top five tips to get you ahead of the trends in the backup and recovery job market:

1. Get to Grips With Backup Complexity 

It doesn’t take much training to put in a fresh tape cartridge every week, go into a backup application to initiate a backup, let it run overnight, then take the cartridge and put it in a closet or send it to an off-site location. But that is no longer what backup is all about. 

That kind of approach to backup is a) outdated and b) the reason why so many recoveries fail. Modern backup is much more sophisticated. Those who can master its requirements and complexities will do well in the enterprise.

“Backup and data protection are coming under increasing scrutiny and only getting more complicated,” said Chris Cummings, VP of marketing at FalconStor.

“IT professionals have to protect 24/7 and be ready to restore to safe recover point with the lowest data loss at a moment’s notice. This requires knowledge of compute, networking, storage, and clouds as well as the backup software from the market leaders.”

Moreover, Cummings added that there’s a need to keep systems operating fast and clouds operating at the right price point. Those managing backups must possess knowledge of how to achieve application-consistent snapshots that quiesce the server, flush its RAM to disk prior to the snapshot being taken, and keep tabs on cloud data volume. For some geographies and verticals, tape export and optimization remain an essential skill.

“For a while, we thought backup was getting simpler, but it’s actually getting more complex as custom SLAs become the norm,” Cummings said.

2. Emerge From Your Backup Box

Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group, highlighted the fact that there has been a definite rise in awareness of the importance of data protection, including security, backup, disaster recovery (DR), archiving, cyber resilience, and ransomware protection. And there is a hole in the market that can be exploited by those with the right skill sets. 

Traditional backup administrators used to nurse backups to completion and catalog the location of tapes and the files retained in deduplication appliances. It is time for backup administrators to emerge from their backup silos. Retaining a sole focus on traditional backup administration could lead to two big challenges:

  • Having to deal with too many flashing red lights and backup failure alerts due to not grasping the dependencies and intricacies of modern hybrid architectures
  • The likelihood of gradual or not-so-gradual career dissipation

“There is a great need for workers who are multi-talented, multi-disciplined, flexible enough to know and be able to work across different platforms, technologies, and up and down data infrastructures and application stacks,” Schulz said.

“Modern backup and recovery jobs need to know about the hardware, software, cloud, and other services, the servers, storage, networks, apps, and the business implications of their actions to be effective. Expand your horizons and get outside of the traditional backup/restore box.”

3. Take Backup Skills to the Next Level

Data can be lost for a multitude of reasons ranging from equipment malfunction or failure to a simple accident or natural disaster to internal and external bad actors and cybercrime.

Consequently, IT professionals who have backup expertise hanging from their tool belt are in high demand. But IT professionals that wish to beef up their backup expertise should not only master the tried-and-true 3-2-1 backup strategy (three copies of data saved across at least two media types, with one more copy saved off site), they should take things to the next level.

“Savvy IT professionals that wish to stand out from their peers should be able to implement 3-2-1 options in its various forms, including how to combine local disk and cloud storage, network-attached storage and cloud and disk with tape,” said JG Heithcock, general manager of Retrospect.

“They should also learn how to utilize WORM storage in the cloud with immutable backups. While protecting against and detecting ransomware is critical, the backup professional that can seamlessly recover and maintain business continuity after a successful ransomware attack will be king.”

4. Recovery From Cyber Attacks and Ransomware

When recruiters look over resumes of potential hires, those looking for backup skills also want to know about data resiliency and the ability to recover from ransomware.

“There is a need for backup and recovery professionals who can develop data resiliency strategies that allow organizations to quickly and comprehensively recover their data after a cyber attack and stress test these strategies on a regular basis,” said Don Foster, global VP of sales engineering at CommVault.

“This trend is accelerating because cybercriminals are becoming increasingly mature in using social engineering to hack employees’ credentials.”

Brent Skalicky, chief human resources officer at Arcserve, agrees. He reiterated that today’s backup and recovery professionals should possess a strong technical acumen, a clear understanding of IT security standards, and knowledge of the various applications that integrate with backup software.

“With data increasing in importance, it is also essential to keep that data safe, despite user error, natural disasters, and particularly criminal intent,” Shalicky said.

“This makes the role of backup and recovery managers even more important, particularly to identify and manage the products that carry out the backup and recovery.”

5. BaaS and DMaaS Skills 

Phishing attacks, too, are becoming more sophisticated. As these attacks become more mature and more frequent, business and IT leaders are desperately seeking backup and security professionals who can ensure their organization’s recovery readiness by implementing robust last-line-of-defense data resiliency strategies and conducting real-time, simulated recoveries that test these strategies.

“This is why training and professional development resources that provide these data resiliency skills will expand in the coming year,” said Foster with CommVault. “It is why the backup-as-a-service (BaaS) and other data management-as-a-service (DMaaS) applications that enable professionals to simplify the implementation and testing of these data resiliency strategies will become more functional and powerful in 2022.

“And it is why backup and recovery professionals with the ability to use these tools to implement and test these strategies will see demand (and compensation) for their services continue to grow.”

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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