Backup as a Service Without Compromise

Protecting an organization’s digital assets is more challenging than ever. Users expect IT to backup all data, retain those backups indefinitely, and be able to recover data quickly with no loss or interruption. At the same time, IT has more responsibilities than ever but with less staffing. As a result, most organizations no longer have a backup “team,” and in fact, they often don’t have a backup “guy” anymore. Organizations look to cloud backup services to help but are finding the services lacking the platform coverage they need.

What is Backup as a Service?

Traditional backup processes are infrastructure-heavy. Organizations that create and manage their infrastructure need to buy, maintain, and upgrade the backup server hardware. They also need to maintain, operate, and update the backup software. Finally, there is the backup storage component, which is often 5X – 10X the capacity of production storage. As with the other parts, IT needs to implement, maintain, operate, and upgrade that storage.

Backup as a Service (BaaS) essentially outsources some or all of the components of the data protection infrastructure to a cloud provider. While there are some “white-glove” offerings, most organizations are looking only to move the physical backup infrastructure to the cloud. They are more than willing to continue to operate the infrastructure; in fact, most prefer that arrangement.

The BaaS concept of making the backup process merely a matter of running a software application, and having the hardware components take care of themselves on the backend sounds ideal. BaaS should reduce the time spent managing the backup process and eliminate the significant time-consuming tasks like upgrades.

The Backup as a Service Challenge

Despite its potential, larger organizations are not adopting BaaS. The problem with many of the current BaaS solutions is that they lack complete platform coverage. Most focus on protecting VMware, endpoints, and Software as a Service solutions like Office 365. While those platforms are essential, the reality is that most organizations also have significant investments in other platforms as well.

Most organizations have bare metal servers deployed running mission-critical databases or other applications. They also have other hypervisors in use like Microsoft Hyper-V and Nutanix Acropolis. Larger organizations are usually leading the charge to develop cloud-native applications, which also need a backup solution. Many of the BaaS solutions don’t support cloud-native applications.

From an infrastructure perspective, current BaaS solutions also tend to lock a customer into a particular cloud for storage and don’t give the flexibility to use on-premises storage. This lack of storage flexibility especially concerns organizations with an existing investment in it. They don’t want to throw it out.

Introducing Metallic – Software as a Service by Commvault

Metallic is a new venture by Commvault. It is a Software as a Service offering that leverages Commvault data protection solutions as its foundation. Metallic has the potential to live up to all of the BaaS promises without compromises. Using Commvault as a foundation means the organization can count on complete platform protection, including cloud-native apps. Organizations can also feel confident that thousands of customers already vet their BaaS solution.

The most challenging part of any backup infrastructure is implementing, maintaining, and upgrading the primary backup server. Initial implementation can take days, and some upgrades can take weeks. Metallic eliminates the backup server problem by hosting it in Azure, but it does so without also removing flexibility on where protected data is stored. Metallic can backup from any location to any location and from any storage to any storage. It manages the process from a central hub based in Azure. Hosting the service in Azure means the organization is free from all the configuration and upgrade challenges that surround the backup server and software. IT only needs to run the software and not worry about the infrastructure that hosts it.

If the organizations want to eliminate more of the backup infrastructure, they can use cloud storage to store some or all of the backup data. Metallic, unlike other BaaS solutions, gives customers flexibility on how much of the infrastructure they want to outsource to the cloud.  Options include having all backup data sent directly to cloud storage or they can select a hybrid model. The hybrid model keeps the most recent backups on-premises and only uses the cloud to store older backups for retention purposes. Customers choosing cloud storage for some or all of their backup data don’t have to use Azure. They can choose other public cloud providers like AWS and Wasabi.

StorageSwiss Take

The backup infrastructure can be complicated for a busy IT staff to keep its arms around. Especially challenging is working through tasks that don’t occur frequently or are hard to test like backup software, server, and storage upgrades. Outsourcing these functions to a BaaS offering makes a lot of sense, but larger organizations find the lack of platform coverage by most BaaS solutions a show stopper. As a result, they stick with their legacy solutions.

However, Metallic offers a new approach to outsourcing backup infrastructure. The only requirement is hosting the backup software and server in the cloud, which dramatically reduces complexity while still giving organizations significant flexibility on where they store protected data. Metallic’s Commvault foundation provides organizations with the confidence of a complete, well-tested solution. Organizations then are free to decide how much of the remaining backup infrastructure they want to outsource and where they want to outsource it.

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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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