ENDING THE BACKUP NIGHTMARE
From STORAGE Magazine Vol 12, Issue 02 - July 2012
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES AND CHALLENGES THAT END USERS OF STORAGE ARE HAVING TO FACE AND EMBRACE WHEN IT COMES TO DEPLOYING BACKUP SOFTWARE? BRIAN WALL HAS BEEN FINDING OUT
Backup software - mention this to many organisations and they shudder. Why? Because their experiences of using it have often proved less than happy. Indeed, for some it's the stuff of nightmares. Time, then, to take a look at some of the latest techniques and technologies available and how these can help organisations to tackle their backup software challenges.
Before discussing the issues relating to the deployment of backup software, it's first important to examine what people have done in the past. In the majority of cases, organisations have already implemented backup software of some sort, so does it therefore make sense to introduce a whole new system or simply enhance the existing one?
According to Stéphane Estevez, senior product marketing manager EMEA & APAC, Quantum, the traditional solution is a three-step one, with varying levels of commitment. "The shift from the 'classic' physical backup deployment to hybrid setups incorporating both physical and virtual machines has resulted in changes in infrastructure for many organisations. The first step, and a widely accepted and pragmatic approach to accommodating these changes, is to back up virtual machines as if they were physical machines, because not only does it work, you can also use existing software and procedures"
"The reality of today's economy of limited budgets means adopting a high-cost 'rip and replace' solution that requires additional future expenses cannot be justified," adds Estevez. "Therefore, the third and final step of replacing everything and starting again is more likely to be employed once budgets are more freely available or after you have used steps one and two to buy you enough time to implement a more comprehensive strategy."
"It's also about being able to recover all the data. In certain industries including the financial, legal and public sector, organis- ations have to adhere to strict regulations such as the Freedom of Information Act, whereby data needs to be stored securely and safely for the long term. Losing data could result in penalties, including in some cases a serious monetary fine." Blackman suggests IT managers should think about breaking down the amount they want to spend, versus the long-term cost-savings made, to show the board the potential benefits. "Calculate what extra storage you would need and how much it would cost, if you didn't have a cloud solution. Propose the additional IT projects you could focus on with the time and money saved."
IT mangers should also look at the bigger picture and consider the implications of constantly adding new solutions to their IT infrastructure. "Research shows that 53% of businesses are using separate backup solutions for their physical and virtual environments, which is one of the reasons companies do such a poor job of backing up and why budgets are not being used wisely."
Blackman singles out budget and IT resources as the main barriers to successful backup and DR. "When thought through logically, data is quite possibly a company's most valuable asset, after its people - if this is lost, a business is effectively obsolete. IT does not operate in a silo from other departments; it underpins the whole business."
TAKING A SNAPSHOT
While these technologies alleviate the problem, implementing solutions from multiple vendors can, in turn, create inefficient data silos that are difficult to manage. "Most importantly, perhaps, they don't address the bigger problem of too much data being processed too many times, or being stored for the wrong period of time on the wrong media," CommVault point out.
According to analysts IDC, the quantity of digital archive data being created is growing at an alarming rate - 4 x the current volume to retain and search in three years - so, if businesses want to be in a position to efficiently overcome the backup challenges of tomorrow, they need to take a different approach today. For CommVault, the answer to the Big Data challenge is that, instead of looking for short term band-aids for existing solutions, companies should consider a converged process for backup, archive and reporting.
"By only reading and/or moving data once, this unified approach to data management can eliminate redundant processes and speed up operations; reducing storage costs and simplifying management policies. A single data policy enables organisations to scan, copy, index, analyse and store data once. It also enables data analytics to be performed, classifying the data and automatically supplying archive policies for data tiering that will ultimately reduce the total cost of ownership."
IT organisations are also adding continuous data protection (CDP) technologies to their backup strategy to further reduce data loss. "In some cases, real-time continuous replication captures byte-level changes and then a data rewind feature is used to 'rewind back' to a known good point in time before the damaging event occurred. This powerful technology
Regardless of backup technology deployed, many organisations rely on data deduplication technologies to help reduce storage requirements and costs. "Some deduplication solutions perform client-side (source) deduplication while others perform server-side (target) deduplication, and there are pros and cons to each approach. Ultimately, deduplication users claim up to a 95% reduction in storage requirements, which enables organisations to choose to keep more backup online or reduce storage expenditures."
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