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Friday, 19 June 2015 11:35

Backup is only half of the story

Posted By  Laurence James

NetApp’s Laurence James says data centre managers salaries should be measured on what they can restore and recover, not what they have backed up

30 years ago, backing up was a costly, labour-intensive activity involving long reels of tape and even longer night shifts for data centre managers looking after all of the data backed up locally on-premise. Not only this, but it took up acres of floor space and was, without a doubt, error-prone. Despite these issues, organisations have, for many years, recognised the importance of backing up, with the “Cache is King” mantra engrained in every IT Director’s psyche. The need to safeguard their organisation’s ever-growing pool of data and mission-critical applications against natural disasters such as fires and flooding or simple data corruption is very real.

However, what many organisations have not fully appreciated yet is the way in which the backup industry is evolving. Gone are the days of tape-based backup. They are replaced, instead, with much more efficient disk-based and online backup.

To date, there have been many challenges and considerations for organisations backing up, which have caused the industry to develop apace. These include time constraints, security issues and management requirements, as well as cost and capacity from a from an opex perspective. With more focus on the constant availability of data to support their business models, organisations have also become increasingly demanding. They now increasingly look to backup with zero-capacity copies, de-dupe compression, encryption and more – demands that are rendering backup technology more and more sophisticated.

One of the main evolutions within the backup and recovery industry has been the rise of cloud-based solutions. Companies are increasingly backing up to the cloud and deploying Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service, also based in the cloud, due to the lower costs associated with this.

What’s interesting about this shift to the cloud is how quickly it’s taking place. Today, 44% of all data-related activity in the cloud now involves backup and restore. The economics, elasticity and agility of the cloud make this an ideal platform for backup and recovery. Cloud integrated storage appliances can reduce data sets by up to 30 times, which means it’s a viable solution for storing large volumes of data at low cost.

From a recovery perspective, backing up to the cloud is good news. Cloud integrated storage appliances keep a local cached copy of recent backups, allowing organisations to restore data rapidly when required. At the end of the day, this is key. As a data centre manager, you will be measured on what you can restore and recover, not what you have backed up – the backup is just the mechanism for retrieving critical information in the worst case scenario of unplanned loss of data.

The industry is set to develop further over the course of the next year as changes to EU data protection law are finalised. It remains to be seen exactly what these regulatory changes will entail, but for businesses, there is going to be a growing need to remain compliant and ensure that data is protected – as well as backed up – with the appropriate measures. With this, an organisation’s primary concerns will be threefold – cost effectiveness, efficiency and perhaps most importantly, security.

Everyone knows that backing up is vital for protecting business-critical data and mission-critical applications. It’s therefore no longer a case of “what are the benefits of backup and recovery systems?” The interesting thing is how the industry has changed and how quickly the shift to the cloud is taking place. Over the next year and in light of upcoming EU regulation, it’s certain that backup and disaster recovery will evolve further. It’s now more critical than ever to be aware of this evolution.  

About the Author

Laurence James is a Products, Alliances and Solutions Marketing Manager at NetApp NEMEA and is responsible for driving market awareness for NetApp’s products across Northern EMEA. Working closely with the EMEA Product, Alliances and Solutions Marketing team, his focus is on business growth and aligning NetApp’s offerings with customer and market needs.

Laurence has many years’ experience working with all aspects of Enterprise IT and held roles at Oracle, Sun Microsystems and StorageTek.

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