How to Leverage the Cloud for Unstructured Data Protection

Unstructured data is growing at alarming rates. The growth is the result of not only increased user activity but also by machines and IoT devices. Re-creation of this data isn’t possible. It is a point time capture of sensory data. Additionally, unstructured data is a frequent target of ransomware attacks. Organizations also count on their backup systems to retain data for future reference. This combination means that the protection of unstructured data is more critical than ever. Secondary storage systems store all of these protected copies of data, and their capacity requirements are growing at an even faster pace than production unstructured data stores.

Dealing with Unstructured Protection Storage Growth

The need for more capacity in secondary storage has been an ongoing problem for secondary storage systems even when those systems where mostly tape based. Disk-based backup systems have evolved from capacity limited scale-up systems to scale-out systems that can scale by adding additional nodes to a storage cluster. Scale-out systems though have problems too. As these systems scale, they become increasingly complex as node count reaches into the double digits. Eventually, the scale-out secondary storage system becomes a data center floor space consuming monster, and once disaster recovery best practices are applied, doubles the problem.

Can the Cloud Cure All Our Woes?

The cloud is a destination with almost limitless capacity that is very cost effective. The problem is that the overwhelming majority of secondary storage systems provide only rudimentary support of the cloud. These systems typically only mirror the on-premises secondary data store. While the mirroring technique does ease disaster recovery concerns, it does not help curtail on-premises secondary storage growth.

Using the Cloud for Secondary Storage Retention

Manufacturers of secondary storage systems and the software that drives data to them need to rethink how they leverage the cloud. The best use case is to tier data to the cloud, not just mirror it. This design means that as data ages it is stored only in the cloud, slowing if not eliminating the growth of on-premises secondary storage. This design also facilitates quick restores of data that was recently changed or added and leverages the cloud for long-term retention.

As IT professionals look for systems that can tier secondary data to the cloud, it becomes increasingly important for those systems to provide granular storage of the data they are protecting. Image-based backups, in this use case, are much more difficult to find and recover data from, especially as that data ages.

StorageSwiss Take

Fully leveraging the cloud is just one aspect of unstructured data protection that needs to change. IT professionals need to understand the pitfalls of image-based backups while at the same time making sure that the data protection software provides a way to tag files so that finding them in the distant future is straightforward.

To learn more about the new requirements of unstructured data protection watch our latest on demand webinar “The Three New Requirements of Unstructured Data Protection“. Attendees gain immediate access to Storage Switzerland’s exclusive eBook “Modernizing Unstructured Data Protection and Management“.

Watch On Demand

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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