Have an Ulterior Motive When Implementing Disk-Based Backup

In a recent blog entry, I took a look at the complimentary roles that replication and deduplication have in delivering global deduplication as part of an overall enterprise wide data protection strategy. However that is just part of the total global deduplication and enterprise data protection picture. No matter what solution a company implements or how well it replicates and deduplicates data, data stores still grow and the hardware on which the solution runs still ages.

On the surface, these don’t sound like a big deal. But companies need to keep in mind that introducing disk along with deduplication and replication into the backup process does not immediately solve all problems associated with backup. The danger with using disk-based backup is that companies can still encounter performance and capacity limitations. Therefore an ulterior motive companies should have as a part of implementing disk-based backup and data protection is to eliminate all hassles associated with managing backup both short and long term – not just the immediate pain of backup and recovery.

Almost any disk-based solution – deduplicating or otherwise – is going to expedite backups and recoveries. Sure, some solutions may deduplicate better or do it faster but at the end of the day most companies are at the point that putting in place any disk-based system that supports replication and deduplication is better than dealing with the current backup pain.

However what companies often fail to account for is how fast their backup data stores grow when they start backing up data to disk. More than once I’ve talked to system administrators in companies where “undisclosed” or “hidden” departmental application servers start to come out of the woodwork once department managers hear that corporate IT backup processes actually work.

The dirty little secret in enterprise companies is that it is almost common place for departments within companies to hide their application servers from corporate IT because they know how badly broken the centralized corporate IT backup processes are. However once word leaks out that corporate IT has backup fixed, suddenly everyone wants to unload their departmental backup jobs on corporate IT. The end result is that backup data rates tend to grow much faster than what corporate IT initially forecast.

Frankly, this is the new challenge that corporate IT faces today: Put in place an infrastructure that can cost-effectively and easily scale on a whim (i.e. – without any planning). This is especially applicable when dealing with backup data because there are so many unknowns. Corporate IT generally already knows about existing applications and their forecasted data growth. But when it comes to determining how much data they will receive and/or need to transmit to secondary data centers and remote and branch offices (ROBOs) is at best an educated guess. Yet if companies underestimate, they can reach performance and capacity thresholds much more quickly and need to pay a lot to upgrade. Conversely if they grossly overestimate, they can pay way too much up-front.

In order to avoid these mismatches between secondary data flow and associated infrastructure capability, companies need to take a hard look at disk-based deduplication products that are based on grid storage architecture such as the NEC HYDRAstor. The NEC HYDRAstor provides both Accelerator Nodes for performance and Storage Nodes for capacity so companies can independently and economically scale performance, capacity or both, to keep up with their specific backup needs. The big benefit of grid storage architectures is that companies can start small and then scale accordingly.

Disk-based backup is bringing a lot of relief to a lot of organization but companies need to look beyond just the promise of the immediate relief that disk provides. While solving today’s corporate backup problems are important, corporate IT also needs to keep their eye on the ball to ensure they are implementing IT infrastructures that cost-effectively scale while keeping management costs down to a minimum. Products such as NEC HYDRAstor that use grid-based storage architectures help companies address their immediate backup pain while also putting them on solid footing going forward.

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