Today’s business environment is always-on and can tolerate no delays, and data is at the heart of these requirements. Data must be accessible the moment it is needed. At the same time, business analytics and regulations such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) require more data to be retained for longer periods of time – sometimes forever. Changing expectations for data access are also being fueled by the advent of the cloud, which adds the ability to spin up workloads in a matter of minutes. It also provides the ability to procure practically unlimited amounts of storage capacity on demand. Users do not expect to wait, and the ability to store all data for any required period of time is assumed.
Backup software has come quite a way when it comes to meeting more demanding data availability requirements. Backup software is now filling capabilities that used to require other software. For example, with the addition of capabilities like boot-from-backups, backup software is increasingly capable of providing fast restores to the minute before the outage. Additionally, replication capabilities are becoming more commonplace.
At the same time, backup software is also getting better at long-term retention. Platforms are introducing more sophisticated metadata tracking for easier and more granular data access and recovery, for example. Also emerging are the abilities to conduct staged recoveries and to scan backup data during a restore, which ensure that the organization does not recover something that wasn’t supposed to be recovered due to corruption, ransomware or compliance.
We are also seeing the emergence of tiering within backup environments, as well. It now makes sense to deploy a small amount of flash storage capacity in the secondary data center to serve immediate recovery requirements, while tiering “colder” data to lower-cost retention storage. This is especially important as more recovery points are required for business continuity, which naturally means generating and storing more copy data.
To function effectively, a modern backup environment requires an intelligent data management platform that can not only provide core backup functionality, but that provides visibility into where and how data is being stored. It should also automatically orchestrate data in a dynamic fashion, based on its access requirements. Additionally, object storage warrants evaluation as a large and scalable, cost-effective long-term data repository.