Disk-based Backup is more than just Backup Relief

Companies can experience an overwhelming sense of relief when they finally resolve their ongoing backup problems by switching from tape to disk as their primary backup target. But what companies may fail to fully contemplate is the new possibilities – and challenges – that storing data on disk opens up to them. On the upside disk makes data recoveries and off-site replication of the data much easier to accomplish. Conversely, it can present companies with new challenges to manage the data on disk as it ages lest the escalating costs of disk capacity and cooling and powering the storage system start to offset some of the benefits that disk-based backup provides.

In previous blog entries I have examined how Asigra’s new Backup Lifecycle Manager (BLM) Archiver feature in its Televaulting 8.0 release helps control the placement of backup data. The BLM Archiver optimally places aging data on the appropriate tier of disk without sacrificing the ability of companies to recover their data. It keeps recently changed or new data on higher performing disk on its DS-Systems while moving infrequently or never accessed data to more energy efficient storage systems used by its BLM Archiver. This keeps costs low while still keeping the backup data on disk so companies still have the flexibility to manipulate and search backup data over time in the manner that they so choose.

The most pressing need for these capabilities is to satisfy emerging corporate needs for eDiscoveries and the subsequent legal holds that are on the rise especially in the US due to changes introduced as part of the updated Federal Rules of Civil Procedures (FRCP) in December 2006. As Asigra Televaulting initially backs data up using its agentless architecture, it also indexes data that is backed up and records such attributes as file name, file size, file create and modify times and directory name. When backing up emails, it tracks email information such as the email subject and recipients (To, From, Sent, CC, BCC, Sent and Received). This information remains with the backup data as it is archived by the BLM Archiver so companies can search the BLM Archiver and retrieve the archived backup data based on these criteria.

Companies may also find that they need to retain some or all of the data that matches the search criteria of the e-discovery and place a legal hold on it. Using the BLM Archiver, companies can copy the specific data that they need to retain to satisfy the legal hold a specific tier of disk (such as WORM based disk) or even copy just that subset of data off to optical or tape if the requirements dictate.

In the event that a more granular search of backup data is requested (such as searching the content of files or emails) at a specific past point-in-time, using the BLM Archiver companies can first identify all data on that date and then create a restorable image from it. Once the backup data is restored, companies can then do this search across the files and email for that date.

BLM Archiver’s ability to copy data to multiple types of media also comes into play in other situations. The BLM Archiver can recognize and store data to any type of storage device to include file servers that use CIFS and NFS interfaces. This allows companies to store their archived backup data stores to emerging storage platforms that are based on new cloud computing and grid storage architectures.

The problem today is not backing up data to disk, it is managing the backup data once it is stored there. Asigra’s BLM Archiver not only gives companies a cost effective mechanism to manage backup data, it helps companies to search and hold data in their backup stores while still giving them the flexibility to take advantage of emerging and new storage technologies. In so doing, companies can expeditiously respond to unexpected legal ediscovery and hold requests, not put undue burdens on their IT staff and still keep their disk storage costs under control.


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