Data migrations are a painful part of storage management in most enterprise shops today. Driven by storage technology refreshes, storage upgrades, or optimizing data placement on storage systems to improve application performance, data migrations are an ongoing and laborious part of enterprise data management. Yet for most companies the pain of data migrations has been largely restricted to moving production data between from one production storage system to another.
Introducing disk as a target into the backup process changes this scenario. Companies must now begin to account for the difficulties that migrating data from disk to tape or other disk systems once the initial backup completes. The magnitude of the problem varies according to how the disk is configured. For instance:
- Using disk-as-disk may sound like the simple solution but if users are backing up vast amounts of data, the storage system may continually run out of storage capacity. This results in failed backup jobs and users needing to continually procure more storage space.
- Virtual tape libraries (VTLs) are becoming popular in enterprises because they look and act like physical tape libraries to backup software while providing the backup and recovery speeds of disk. However migrating data from virtual tape cartridges to physical tape cartridges is fraught with problems. Companies need to keep backup catalogs in sync, account for compression and encryption on physical tape drives and account for differences in size between virtual and physical tape cartridges.
- Deduplicating backup appliances appear as the perfect technology for backing up to disk since it eliminates redundant data, can increase storage capacities by 10 fold or more and gives the appearance of infinite capacity. There’s the rub. Deduplicating backup appliances only give the appearance of infinite capacity so they may require upgrades or migrating data to tape. In either case, companies need to plan and manage the migration.
So while the initial benefits that companies derive from using disk in any of its different formats in the backup process are usually substantial, the effort associated with managing and migrating backup data to support a technology refresh or disk system expansion to migrate from disk to tape over time can become problematic.
That’s what makes the NEC HYDRAstor truly unique among disk-based data protection options. Even though it falls under the general category of a “deduplicating backup appliance”, because it can scale to manage petabytes of data while concurrently scaling performance, companies do not need to migrate backup data for disk to tape or upgrade to a new appliance when they are running short on capacity. The NEC HYDRAstor eliminates these problems by decoupling the scaling of performance and capacity servers, or nodes, so companies can scale either to meet the particular needs of their environment without replacing existing equipment. The HYDRAstor also helps companies avoid the typical need to do data migrations during technology refreshes since data on existing nodes can be non-disruptively migrated to new nodes without downtime.
The introduction of disk into the backup process has fundamentally changed the backup process but with that change in process companies also need to change how they think about managing backup data once it is stored to disk. Most disk-based products used in the backup process have not fully accounted for this fundamental change in the management of backup data after it is stored on disk. The NEC HYDRAstor is one such product that has taken the management of backup data stored on disk into account in its design from the outset and prevents this from becoming a problem later on in the management of the data.