Speaker Spotlight

James R. Slaby

James R. Slaby has deep expertise in data protection and cybersecurity. He is a strategic analytical thinker and an accomplished speaker and writer for both business and technical audiences.

Slaby started his vendor career in network and segued into security. He charted a similar path as an industry analyst.

“Business continuity and disaster recovery aren’t my only focus,” he said, “but it neatly combines those two disciplines.”

He said, “I can probably thank my father for instilling a love of SF in me at a very young age that ultimately drove me into tech, and an older brother who inspired me specifically to chase a career in networking tech in the early days of the commercialization of the internet.”

Slaby said he’s always loved the dynamism of tech, especially the cybersecurity corner of it.

“Not a day goes by without some fascinating, perplexing challenge landing in your lap,” he said. “I also work with great colleagues, hard-working pros who are also good people.”

Slaby said even though he knows it will sound corny, his favorite aspect of working BC/DR is helping businesses to survive in challenging times, especially the under-resourced smaller ones. He finds this deeply satisfying.

“I focus on cybersecurity threats, and those of course have never been more existentially dreadful than today,” he said.

Slaby has been director of cyber protection at Acronis for nearly seven years.

Acronis has a unique combination of backup and disaster recovery data protection and cybersecurity products which are primarily delivered to businesses as a suite of services managed by service providers.

Founded in Singapore in 2003 and incorporated in Switzerland in 2008, Acronis now has more than 1,500 employees in 33 locations in 18 countries. Its solutions are trusted by more than 5.5 home users and 500,000 companies, including 100% of the Fortune 1000 and top-tier professional sports teams. Acronis products are available through 50,000 partners and service providers in more than 150 countries in more than 40 languages.

The business’s mission is to unify data protection and cybersecurity to deliver integrated, automated cyber protection which solves the safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security challenges of the modern digital world. With flexible deployment models that fit the demands of service providers and IT professionals, Acronis provides superior cyber protection for data, applications, and systems with innovative next-generation antivirus, backup, disaster recovery, and endpoint protection management solutions. With award-winning AI-based anti-malware and blockchain-based data authentication technologies, Acronis protects any environment – from cloud to hybrid to on-premises – at a low and predictable cost.

This is Slaby’s first employer with a DR offering although he has published research about BC/DR as an industry analyst at various points over the years.

“As tech geeks, it’s easy for us to focus entirely on the technology we put in place to physically effect BC/DR at moments of crisis,” he said, “but of course it’s as much about building a culture, cultivating a continuity mindset, and doing the hard, sometimes thankless work of building, inculcating, and refreshing appropriate policies.”

He said even though the tech aspect is “cool,” people and processes “are equally important.”

Slaby will share his expertise at DRJ Spring 2021 as a panelist on March 31 during Breakout Track 6 session titled “Exercising/Testing Your Plan.” This session will include a brief look at some compelling features of the company’s implementation, an examination of the trend toward the convergence of data protection with DR, and a look at how testing and auditing have evolved past their former status as cumbersome and painful obligations.

“Given my expertise and the makeup of the rest of the panel,” he said, “I expect to focus on the combination of data protection and cybersecurity issues that underlie response plan testing and execution.”

He said several new forces have converged to highlight the urgent need for DR and to transform the business case for it. The sudden shift to remote work, the growing resilience on SaaS applications, and a surging cyberthreat environment have created daunting new challenges to preserving 24/365 business uptime.

“The high cost and relative flexibility of traditional DR solutions calls for new thinking, architectures, and implementations – including a path forward that minimizes risks to the business,” said Slaby.

Slaby will use his extensive work experience to share with DRJ Spring 2021 attendees. This includes a few decades split between working as an industry analyst at tech research firms like Forrester and as a solutions engineer, product manager and marketer, vertical marketer, and solutions marketer at tech vendors in the networking and security sectors.

In addition, he has managed a few teams over the years but mainly worked as an individual contributor. He studied English and math at Dartmouth and completed some post-graduate work in software development at Florida Atlantic.

Slaby is a lifelong Bostonian and long-suffering Boston sports fan, though things got a lot more fun for him around 2004.

Although he has a customary obsessive dining-out habit, that has been temporarily curtailed due to COVID-19. So, he has been stationed in front of his stove.

“I’m a respectable home cook who dabbles in dozens of cuisines from around the world,” he said.

Slaby’s extensive traveling experiences are often inspiration in the kitchen. He has stamps from more than 60 countries in his passport.

His most recent focus in the kitchen has been on his vegetarian chops, even though he is still an omnivore.

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