What Is Protection Storage?

What is protection storage? Is this merely a way to re-package the role of purpose-built data deduplication appliances or are there some unique attributes to protection storage that warrants closer scrutiny from technology decision makers? In short, protection storage drives efficiencies and operational enhancements into data protection (backup and archive) processes. But more importantly, it does so by ensuring the recoverability and accessibility of critical business data while enabling IT to “consumerize” a common protection storage platform for multiple business use cases.

Protection storage differs from your standard backup appliance thanks to the following three key attributes:

  1. The ability to consistently protect and ensure the recoverability and access of data – a true storage of last resort
  2. Optimized storage efficiency through deduplication technology
  3. A common platform to support backup and archive data

Key Tenets of Protection Storage

Some may ask, once you’ve made an alternate copy of information and sent it off-site for safekeeping, shouldn’t that really be enough? The bottom line is that if you are less than 100% confident that you will be able to recover or access critical data from a near-term backup copy or a long-term archive, then you may be engaging in a high stakes gamble with your business information.

Look Before You Leap

Protection storage can be likened to all the preparation and safety checks performed by a team of skydivers. You entrust your jump partner to not only pack your parachute but to check and re-check their handiwork no less than three times before you strap it on your back for the day’s jump.

Likewise, when data is copied to a protection storage system, you want to have the security that the data (like your parachute) is constantly being checked by the system to ensure that the data is going to be recoverable or accessible when you really need it. Because presumably, the data exists nowhere else at that point. So like the parachute in your pack, if it doesn’t deploy, you’re coming in for a very hard landing indeed.

Consequently, data integrity is the first key tenet of protection storage. After all, what good will your investments in backup or archive do you if the data is not recoverable and accessible?

Staying Efficient

Given the ubiquity of massive data growth occurring across all industries, the second tenet to protection storage is the ability for the system to improve storage efficiency. Deduplication can help drive the efficiencies required to enable businesses to store more backup and archive information on disk cost effectively. Due to data center consolidation and server virtualization initiatives, however, there is an increasing demand to further leverage shared infrastructure resources to reduce capital and operational costs. How can this be achieved with protection storage?

An App Store For Data Protection

From a protection storage perspective, this can be more readily accomplished if the underlying architecture is open enough to accept direct backup data feeds from the data sources themselves, while universally deduplicating all of this information under the same hood.

For example, direct feeds from application backup products like Oracle RMAN, traditional backup applications, like from Symantec, Commvault, EMC, etc., virtual server backup applications, like Dell’s vRanger, as well as archiving applications like Symantec Enterprise Vault or EMC SourceOne are necessary to simplify operational command and control.

What’s more, this also facilitates the “consumerization” of shared protection storage assets since the end users of these applications don’t have to change how they do their backups or archives. All policies and procedures seamlessly port over to protection storage so that adoption effectively becomes frictionless. This has the dual benefit of lowering costs through increased adoption of shared infrastructure assets while elevating internal IT to the preferred vendor of choice of IT services.

A Bigger Tent For Backup and Archive

A third key tenet of protection storage is its ability to manage backup and archiving workloads within the same platform. Business data governance and regulatory mandates are requiring organizations to retain data for multiple years; however, it becomes exceedingly difficult to contain data protection costs when backup and archive repositories are silo’d into separate storage devices.

As discussed above, protection storage has the ability to accept data sources from their native backup applications. Similarly, they also can accept archive data directly from archiving applications like Enterprise Vault, SourceOne, etc. Perhaps more importantly, however, protection storage platforms have the ability to ingest both archiving workloads (characterized by hundreds of thousands or millions of small files) and backup workloads (larger but fewer files) within the same platform at the same time.

This further reduces the total cost of ownership of shared infrastructure resources by extending protection storage investments for long-term archival requirements. What’s more, since backup and archive data is globally deduplicated, organizations can realize even higher data reduction benefits since there will likely be data commonality across these workloads.

Lastly, retrieving data from archive storage is a hardly a sure thing. Data that has been in an archive for many months or years, is rarely, if ever, available anywhere else other than on the archive storage. Protection storage systems that incorporate continual internal data integrity checks along with proactive measures to ensure data accessibiilty, provide an additional layer of insurance that is essential for the long-term health of all data assets.


EMC Data Domain deduplication storage systems exhibit all the important traits of protection storage. As an application agnostic, inline data deduplication appliance that can securely protect backup and archive workloads across a broad swath of business systems, Data Domain is the parachute in the data protection backpack.

EMC is a client of Storage Switzerland

As a 22 year IT veteran, Colm has worked in a variety of capacities ranging from technical support of critical OLTP environments to consultative sales and marketing for system integrators and manufacturers. His focus in the enterprise storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions space extends from mainframe and distributed computing environments across a wide range of industries.

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One comment on “What Is Protection Storage?
  1. […] for backup workloads and archiving workloads simultaneously. As we covered in our column “What Is Protection Storage”, EMC has continued evolving the Data Domain system to serve as an application agnostic, data […]

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