Backup 2.0 – How Primary Storage, Backup Software and Backup Hardware are solving data protection challenges

Data protection is more than just backup and backup is more that just moving data from point A to point B. Data centers need to design a layered data protection strategy that allows them to meet a wide variety of recovery needs. In our upcoming webinar we will discuss new data protection technologies that promise to extend backup so it can meet those recovery needs.

Register for TODAY'S webinar "Beyond Backup - Can Backup Meet ALL your Service Level Objectives"

It’s Still About Service Level Objectives

Our webinar will open, as we do in our data protection workshops, with a discussion about service level objectives (SLOs). Unlike service level agreements (SLAs), which are promises typically made from the business unit into IT, service level objectives are protection goals and strategies that IT communicates to the various business units, application owners and users within the organization. While there is still some negotiation involved the key difference is that IT takes the lead and drives the result, producing a much more realistic data protection standard for the organization, one that’s implemented more quickly.

Primary Storage Meets More Data Protection Objectives

One of the key points of discussion in this webinar will be how primary storage can play a much larger role in its own protection. First, many primary storage systems are moving to a RAID-less data protection scheme built on either object replication or erasure coding. RAID and the time it takes to recover from a drive failure are key areas of exposure in primary storage systems and these technologies promise to reduce that exposure. In this webinar we will explain how RAID-less methods can provide a quicker return to a protected state with less storage CPU impact.

Second, many primary storage systems can provide a much greater level of snapshot protection. Most storage systems can directly interface with the application to make sure a clean and consistent copy of the data is being made. Application-consistent snapshots typically take longer, since OS and application write buffers need to be flushed to disk, but the return to operation is generally faster because the data is 100% useable.

Modern storage systems can also often provide a virtual machine (VM) level of granularity to allow for different levels of protection for each VM or connected host. They can store thousands of snapshots with little to no performance impact. Finally, they can cost effectively replicate locally and remotely to provide protection for a storage system or site failure.

Backup Software Meets More Objectives

Backup software has evolved from an application that simply transfers data from point A to point B into a solution that’s more capable in a number of areas. It is better able to meet recovery point objectives by capturing data more frequently with block level backup and copy data management technologies; It’s also better able to handle recovery time objectives by either instantiating VMs from the backup device or in the cloud or through the use of block level recovery technology. It can meet version retention objectives more easily thanks to more scaleable indexes and integrated analytics of the data being protected.

Finally, backup software is better able to respond to a disaster thanks again to the addition of built in replication and recovery in the cloud. In this webinar we will discuss each of these software options and how they can meet these different service level objectives.

Backup Hardware Can Meet More Objectives

Disk backup hardware has also evolved. What started as a collection of hard drives are now purpose-built backup appliances. These disk based appliances are evolving to provide agents so that application software like Oracle and SQL can perform their own source-side deduplication. In some cases they can run the actual backup application or become a media server to that application. Disk backup appliances are also providing greater scalability in order to support long term retention for archives. In this webinar we will discuss how the evolution of these devices can better enable organizations to meet recovery point objectives, recovery time objectives, version retention objectives (archiving) and geographic recovery objectives (disaster recovery).

Tape storage continues to evolve as well. There are now solutions on the market that integrate tape and disk so they become a single mount point on your network. Data copied to this mount is first stored on disk for instant access and response, with a copy of that data instantly made to tape. Then later, as the data on disk becomes less active, a second copy is made to tape and removed from disk, freeing up capacity. This abstraction of the tape interface makes tape much easier to work with and the integration of disk allows for a touch-less tape environment that dramatically increases tape reliability.

Storage Swiss Take

There are three major reasons that traditional backup is evolving into “Backup 2.0”:

  1. primary storage can protect itself better
  2. backup software can fulfill more data protection obligations
  3. backup hardware can further enhance existing solutions

As we will discuss in the webinar most data centers should consider implementing components of all three protection levels to create a tiered approach to data protection. However, these tiers must be implemented with a process that includes service level objectives so that the right level of protection can be applied at the right time. Most importantly, the process allows you to identify which tier of protection you should use for each recovery situation that you face.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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