How to Reduce the TCO of Data Protection Infrastructure

The growth of primary storage has an exponential effect on data protection infrastructure. Demands to protect data more frequently, recover faster and retain data longer promise to make the situation worse. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of the data protection infrastructure is reaching new heights. The problem is there are too many moving parts within that infrastructure. To reduce the TCO of data protection, IT planners need to look for a solution that will reduce the number of components within it while at the same time improving administrator efficiency.

What is Data Protection TCO?

The first step in reducing TCO is understanding what it is and why current solutions are driving it so high. A data protection TCO analysis should do what its name implies; calculate the TOTAL cost of ownership. For data protection this means adding up all the hard costs like data protection storage, the data protection network and data protection software. It should also include periodic costs like hardware and software maintenance (including support) as well as subscription costs like cloud storage or cloud compute.

Calculating data protection infrastructure TCO also means adding up the operating costs associated with learning and operating the data protection system. Most data protection solutions are not self-service or designed for IT generalists; they need a well-trained administrator familiar with the infrastructure to interact with it.

Operating costs are particularly important because certain complicated data protection tasks – like a full restore – will require a knowledgeable person to complete. Even if those tasks occur very rarely, that person must be at hand and available at all times. The more the data protection solution can reduce the need for the dedicated person the more data protection costs can be reduced.

Why is Data Protection TCO so High?

Another reason for the high TCO of data protection infrastructure is the number of data protection silos that exist in the data center. As discussed in blog 1, most data centers have multiple data protection software solutions with multiple data protection hardware systems. Hardware costs include more than data protection storage. The data protection software itself often requires multiple dedicated servers and proxies, further increasing TCO. Each of these hardware components has an initial purchase cost and maintenance costs.

Multiple solutions also require the administrator, or worse, administrators to learn each solution as well as independently manage each solution. Each time a new, complex application is added, operational costs increase with the need to learn new software and hardware.

If those new solutions don’t include operational and programmatic automation features, the situation is compounded even further. Even if some of the solutions do include automation capabilities, the fact that each solution is different makes learning how to best leverage the automation very difficult. In many cases, the automation features go unused.

How to Reduce Data Protection Infrastructure TCO

Reducing data protection infrastructure TCO requires consolidating solutions and adopting simpler, highly automated tools. Most consolidation efforts focus on consolidating the software, but true TCO reduction requires IT planners to look at hardware, software and operating costs.

The first step in reducing data protection infrastructure TCO is to look for backup solutions that can protect more of the environment. Protecting multiple hypervisors as well as standalone applications is a minimum requirement. The software and data protection storage should co-exist on the same hardware, essentially converging two hardware components into one. The result is a significant reduction in the number of software licenses and hardware purchased.

The second area of focus is the costs associated with backup operations. The solution needs to be both operationally and programmatically automatic. Operationally the solution should automatically identify new systems to protect and automatically move data to less expensive storage when it no longer requires rapid recovery. Programmatic automation enables IT to create a self-service model that adds data protection seamlessly to applications, servers or virtual machines upon creation.

Automatically managing protected data is a critical capability in the effort to drive down TCO. Most data protection solutions store years worth of data. The data for most recoveries however comes from the most recent backups not the years old backups. The problem is that most data protection solutions place equal value on these backups and can’t store them on less expensive storage targets, like an on-premises object store or the cloud.

Conclusion

If the right solution is selected, IT can significantly drive down the TCO of the data protection infrastructure. Many unsuccessful TCO reduction efforts concentrate on either backup software or data protection storage and attempt to consolidate just those elements. Instead, IT should drive toward a more holistic TCO reduction strategy that covers hardware, software and operational costs.

Sponsored by Rubrik

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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