Purpose-Built Backup is Not Just About Look and Feel

Purpose-built backup is backup software designed to protect a specific application, environment, or data set. An example of a purpose-built backup solution is HYCU Software’s Backup and Recovery, which initially focused on protecting Nutanix Acropolis, expanded to cover VMware ESX, and now also protects Google Cloud Platform. A common misconception is that a purpose-built backup solution is one that “looks and feels” like the platform it is protecting.

In episode 3 of our Storage Intensity podcast, we sat down with HYCU’s CEO Simon Taylor to learn what else purpose-built backup should provide in addition to a pretty interface.

Moving Beyond Look and Feel

In addition to building an application that “looks and feels” like the environment it is protecting, a purpose-built application should take advantage of the data protection capabilities that the environment provides. For example, if the solution offers a way to take snapshots or replicate data, then instead of re-creating the feature, the purpose-built software developer should leverage what is already there. Leveraging what is already there means that the purpose-built backup software vendor can focus engineering efforts on filling data protection gaps in the environment. It also means that as the environment is updated, IT doesn’t have to wait for the backup software to be updated.

To some extent, the purpose-built backup solution becomes an orchestrator of the environment’s capabilities and then moves data to alternate targets. For example, if the environment supports snapshots, it only supports snapshots within its environment. It can’t typically move the data in that snapshot to other vendor’s storage systems or other clouds.

An advantage of not having to recreate features that are already present in the environment means the backup software developer can focus on capabilities that are missing. Nutanix, as an example, now has a built-in, scale-out file server capability. Most traditional backup applications still have not added support for natively protecting this critical storage area.

Coming Back to Look and Feel

While “look and feel” isn’t the sole criteria of a purpose-built backup solution, it is crucial. The goal of the purpose-built solution is to look so similar to the environment it protects, that it looks like the environment vendor developed it. Achieving the correct level of “look and feel” means that the customer can delegate data protection responsibilities to the team that is administering the environment and not have to create a special backup team or lay another burden on the existing backup team. Creating the right level of “look and feel” negates the theoretical advantage of a consolidated solution and brings the power of delegation. It is easy to make the case that the IT personnel in charge of the environment are the right people to protect it because they have a better understanding of its data and infrastructure requirements.

As we discuss in this episode of Storage Intensity, HYCU has, thus far, provided purpose-built solutions for Nutanix Acropolis, VMware ESX and Google Cloud. They have also created an overlay management solution, Protege, which provides centralized monitoring and data migration and disaster recovery between the various environments.

StorageSwiss Take

Backup Consolidation is a noble effort, and achieving a high level of consolidation is possible. Still, it can also be expensive and more than likely requires a dedicated team of IT professionals focusing primarily on the task. There is value in having a single throat to choke when it comes to backup and disaster recovery, but for many organizations, it may no longer be practical. A purpose-built approach is possibly more appealing since it enables the organization to distribute data protection responsibilities to the application or environment owners. At the same time, a purpose-built backup approach should also better exploit the capabilities built-in to the environment it is protecting, so it may provide higher quality backups. It may also enable the lowering of recovery point and recovery time objectives.

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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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