The cost of the backup infrastructure consumes a large portion of the IT budget. Reducing backup costs requires invincible primary storage that can protect itself. An invincible primary storage system also needs to provide all the services that IT typically counts on the backup infrastructure.
Why are Organizations So Dependent on Backups?
The modern primary storage system protects from media failure, snapshots, and replication. These features should enable organizations to reduce the importance of the backup’s role within the data center. The problem is storage vendors don’t implement these features robustly enough to replace the services that the backup infrastructure provides.
Most storage systems don’t implement media protection so that it can provide anything more than protection from a single or dual drive failure. These implementations are inefficient in how they utilize drive resources, which makes their use add to IT costs.
IT needs the ability to take snapshots frequently, as often as every few minutes, if they are going to replace backup. The system also needs to retain some portion of these snapshots for months, if not years. The number of snapshots that a storage system would need to track plus the capacity requirements that would accompany them impact performance and add to the expense.
Primary storage systems need to provide replication to protect against disaster. Most have some form of it. The problem is the cost associated, as well as the complexity of getting their replication solution implemented, is prohibitive. Replication solutions often require identical systems in both the primary and the disaster recovery site. This requirement is especially a problem if the organization implements an all-flash array at the primary location, forcing them to implement an all-flash array at the secondary location.
The Impact of Weak Primary Storage Data Protection
All of these challenges make organizations very dependent on backups. In most cases, organizations don’t trust their RAID protection technique, to the point that RAID 10 (mirroring plus RAID) is a common choice. Most organizations only use snapshots to feed their backup infrastructure and only take one snapshot a day, so they don’t impact performance. Finally, most organizations count on their backup as their DR strategy instead of primary storage replication because of cost and complexity concerns.
Creating Invincible Primary Storage
To lessen the dependency on backup, organizations need to implement better primary storage solutions. First, the storage system needs to provide enhanced data integrity so that they can be confident that when the storage system acknowledges a write, there is a 100% chance that it is on storage media. Second, protection for media protection needs to improve so that it can survive multiple drive failures. It also needs to be more efficient, accepting drives of varying sizes in the array.
Snapshots need to improve. If primary storage is replacing backup, then the number of snapshots and the time that IT retains those snapshots increases dramatically. The storage system needs to track thousands of snapshots without impacting performance. It also needs to provide a simple mechanism to find the exact snapshot that IT is looking to use for the recovery.
Finally, replication needs to improve dramatically. While most storage vendors provide some form of replication, most require an exact system in the DR site. Implementing that vendor’s DR best practice essentially doubles the cost of the storage investment, for a system that IT may never or seldom use! Instead, storage vendors need to provide more flexibility in their replication solutions so that IT can use any hardware combination in the DR site, including old hardware that they already have.
Implementing these changes requires a storage solution that is hardware-independent and provides advanced storage services. StorONE’s S1 Enterprise Storage Platform delivers precisely that. Organizations can select the server hardware of their choice. It also provides:
- cache-less design that ensures data integrity
- advanced media protection capability that goes beyond RAID
- unlimited snapshots that are set based on RPO/RTO requirements
- replication that enables the organization to deploy any server/storage configuration in the disaster recovery site
If storage systems can provide feature sets that are this robust and efficient, they can lessen their dependency on backup, reduce primary storage costs and backup infrastructure costs.