In a recent webinar, “Holistic Disaster Recovery; from Data Center to Endpoint”, Storage Switzerland discussed the concept of end-to-end (or holistic) disaster recovery. One of the questions asked was “How holistic can a backup solution become?” Which, considering that most backup solutions start out by focusing solely on one pain point in the data center, is an excellent question.
What is Holistic Disaster Recovery?
Holistic disaster recovery is making sure that every component in the data center is recoverable within its specified recovery time (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO). In this case “everything” means every server, virtual or physical, every application and every endpoint, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Meeting the RTOs and RPOs of “everything” means making sure that the level of protection matches the needs of that system. While creating an “instant recovery” of every system is theoretically possible, it is not economically practical.
Can One Application Do it All?
For over 30 years IT professionals have been looking for a single application that can meet all of these requirements and they have largely been left disappointed. The requirements are broad and it leads most IT planners to select discrete solutions for each use case. Replication may be used for rapid recovery of critical systems. Boot from Backup capabilities may be used for important but not critical systems. A traditional backup solution may be used for “normal” recoveries. An endpoint specific backup solution may be used for protecting laptops and desktops. Finally, a cloud solution may be used for protecting cloud native applications. A quick count shows at least five separate solutions to cover the typical enterprise, but in most cases there are more.
The Value of Consolidation
In a perfect world the IT planners can select one product that covers all platforms and all recovery types. Assuming complete integration, the solution would have a single point of management and direct all backups to a single storage system. Licensing and vendor contracts are simplified significantly. With a single solution, costs should go down and backup fidelity should increase. The problem is no vendor is entirely there yet, and there is always the next platform to protect. For example, most vendors can’t protect NoSQL environments and the two that do don’t protect anything else.
Can data protection consolidate down to a single solution? It certainly is becoming more feasible. It is not uncommon for a single solution to provide both replication and backup. Also most virtual solutions have added support for physical systems and most traditional backup applications have support for virtual systems. However, many solutions lack endpoint protection and cloud native application protection. Some vendors offer products in these various categories but there is little integration between them and they even require the launching of separate GUIs for management. The end game is a single solution, but reality dictates that organizations should always be prepared to run two or three data protection applications. One application should protect the stable part of IT while the other two are for protecting the emerging challenges like unstructured data or NoSQL.