Purpose-Built versus Consolidated Backup

The number of data protection applications designed to back up a specific application or environment is increasing dramatically. These purpose-built backup applications have an almost unfair advantage over legacy solutions and customers seem more than willing to deal with the reality of managing multiple solutions to meet their data protection and recovery goals. Consolidated solutions claim to simplify operations and improve data protection quality. Which is the right solution for your environment?

Purpose Built Simplicity vs Consolidated Operational Efficiency

One of the advantages of purpose-built backup solutions is they tend to look and feel like the environment they are protecting. A product purpose-built to protect a specific database, cloud or hypervisor often uses a graphical user interface that matches the environment it protects. In many cases it plugs directly into the environment it is protecting. The familiarity of the interface with the environment being protected means that the organization can delegate data protection responsibilities to administrators of that environment. Purpose-built backup empowers the administrators of each specific environment, and who probably best understand the value of its data, to protect it.

Consolidated backup solutions attempt to present their interface as the interface. While IT does only need to learn one interface, it is often unique from the environments they are protecting. The consolidation approach often leads to a single person or team of people whose assignment is data protection. The advantage is there is a single person or team to oversee backup quality. The challenge is the backup team may not have the operational knowledge of the environment to make sure it is being protected correctly.

Purpose Built Deep Coverage vs Consolidated Wide Coverage

Another advantage of purpose-built solutions is they can focus directly on the environment they claim to protect. Purpose-built solutions typically do a better job protecting the platform even after the consolidated solution vendor adds coverage for the platform. Typically, purpose-built solutions fully exploit available data protection hooks, like snapshots and replication, which the environment provides. Purpose-built solutions are also more likely to develop workarounds for potential data protection shortcomings in the environment. They often provide these capabilities in the early days of the new platform’s adoption by data centers.

Consolidated solutions provide wider coverage. The goal of these solutions is to protect everything. As a result, it often takes them several releases to provide robust data protection of the environment. The backup vendor often waits for the environment vendor to develop better data protection APIs that their software can leverage.

Consolidation Eventually Fractures

Purpose-built solutions are often the first type available to protect a new environment that data centers are adopting. There is no expectation of these solutions to protect other platforms. They are, after all, purpose built. There is however, an expectation that a consolidated solution will protect everything. The problem is consolidated backup solution vendors often have to wait until there is enough adoption of a platform so that it is worth their time to invest in developing for the platform, a process that can take years. Until then the organization has to use built-in data protection tools or adopt a purpose-built data protection solution. Then, if the consolidated solution provides protection, the organization needs to decide if converting from the purpose-built solution is worth the time and effort.

Calculating the cost of converting from purpose-built to consolidated backup is the topic of our next blog. In the meantime, take a moment to review our 15-minute webinar “15 Minute Webinar: Do You Really Need to Consolidate Backup?” to learn more about purpose-built backup. Attendees to the webinar will also be able to download an exclusive copy of our white paper “What is Purpose Built Backup?

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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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