For most organizations backup, the process of regularly and consistently protecting production data, is fundamentally broken. As a result, these organizations have very little confidence in IT’s ability to recover data at all, let alone promptly. To try to fix broken backups, IT has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the problem only to end up with an even more complicated process that is also brittle and still doesn’t accomplish the primary objective.
Why Backup Breaks
Backup interacts with almost every component of the data center; every server, every network and indeed every storage system. For the backup to complete successfully, quickly and deliver a quality, recoverable payload, the solution has to understand what it is protecting and how to best protect that component.
One of the primary reasons backup breaks is the legacy vendors are historically slow in protecting new applications or operating environments. Legacy solutions have also been slow to adopt new technologies that would make backups and restores occur faster and also allow the backup environment to scale further or to fulfill a higher purpose.
The lack of protecting new environments and adopting new technologies leads to backup application sprawl or backup augmentation. New solutions come to market almost every year promising support for the latest environment or technology, but those solutions don’t support the traditional applications and hardware. The idea that IT is solving a problem by adding a new solution or multiple solutions, further exacerbates the issue. This forces the data center to support both legacy and modernized backup solutions. It is not uncommon for IT to support three to four backup solutions and three to four high availability solutions, which doesn’t seem very modern at all.
There is also a problem of over-protection. There are many different ways to protect data today, storage system snapshots, replication, built-in application protection and of course traditional backup. While there is nothing wrong with a belt and suspenders approach to data protection, there is such a thing as too much. The issue is that there is no single control point for all of this protection and each of the processes runs on its own. The siloed approach leads to a management challenge and not knowing which process is the best source of data for a given recovery need.
Fixing Broken Backup
The first step to fixing a broken backup is for IT to develop an overall strategy for data protection which includes understanding the recovery point and recovery time objectives for each application or data set. Then IT can apply the appropriate protection methods to meet those objectives best. To ensure these multiple protection methods work in concert together, IT needs a foundational data protection solution that provides broad coverage, typically an enterprise backup solution, with a rich history of innovation, and providing support for new applications, new operations, and ingenuity around backup. This foundational solution needs to understand and manage other data protection methods, like snapshots, for example, that can deliver higher RPO and RTO when required.
Despite advances in technology, data protection has become more complicated and less reliable over the past several years. Part of the reason for this complication is the result of growing data sets and increased demand for recovery. A large part, however, is more the result of IT trying to respond quickly to the increased demands and departing from their core strategy. To keep pace with changes in the data center IT needs to select an enterprise-class backup and recovery solution that can provide broad coverage while managing other data protection methods required to meet strict RPO and RTO.