Rethinking the Role of Enterprise Data Protection – IBM Briefing Note

Enterprise backup is at times a behemoth. While it does provide the data center a foundational level of protection, the solutions tend to be slow to adopt new environments and too heavy-handed to solve specific feature requests. As a result, many enterprise data protection solutions are experiencing a steady erosion of customers. Those customers are moving the protection of specific use cases over to point solutions that are easier to learn and built for the environment, which is their most pressing concern.

Each of these solutions needs separate management and often separate storage. They also don’t integrate well into other backup solutions in the environment.

Enterprise backup solutions, on the other hand, have spent decades building out an infrastructure that can support a wide variety of operating systems, applications and storage devices. Some also have extensive cataloging capabilities and are a centralized repository of information about the location of every protected copy of data. To be as simple as possible, most use case specific solutions that don’t offer this robust functionality.

The Data Reuse Use Case

One of the newest requests of the data protection process is data reuse. In this use case, the protection software leverages snapshot technology or image-based backups to store data in a native format so that it is instantly available. Initially, vendors present data reuse as an “instant recovery” option for virtualized environments to recover virtual machines rapidly on backup storage and make them available to users and applications. While rapid recovery remains the top reason for data reuse, it has expanded to power application development, testing, reporting, and analytics.

The challenge is that most of the data reuse solutions do not interface with a foundational data protection solution. As a result, these solutions are siloed off from the overall data protection repository, making it more challenging to meet retention and compliance expectations.

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus

IBM created Spectrum Protect Plus to address the customer demand for data reuse. It can work with VMware and Hyper-V as well as Physical Oracle and MS-SQL servers. Spectrum Protect Plus is an agentless, software based solution that takes both application consistent and crash consistent snapshots of the virtual machines and applications, which it then stores in a copy repository. It can then present writable virtual volumes that the organization can use for data recovery, test/dev, reporting or analytics. IBM is also working on integrating Spectrum Protect Plus with hardware/device snapshot technology as well as a variety of other software products.

There are other data reuse solutions on the market today but Spectrum Protect Plus, unlike those other solutions, integrates into IBM Spectrum Protect, IBM’s enterprise-class data protection solution. The organization can use Spectrum Protect Plus for the operational data recovery and reuse demands and then Spectrum Protect to manage retention and compliance.

StorageSwiss Take

There is no question that enterprise data protection vendors need to rethink their role in the market. We think an evolution toward them being a manager of data protection processes is an ideal way to go. It allows meeting specific use case, and operational recovery demands by targeted solutions while providing centralized oversight.

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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Posted in Briefing Note

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