After years of delayed spending on backup infrastructure, backup is in a state of modernization, and several recent reports by Gartner and other analysts highlight the state of backup modernization. For any organization planning to replace tape or upgrade their backup infrastructure, Gartner’s recommendations to approach updating or upgrading backup systems should be strongly considered.
In the 2011 report, “Backup and Disaster Recovery Modernization is No Longer a Luxury, but a Business Necessity” (available to paid subscribers), Gartner says, “Once considered either an afterthought or a very expensive insurance policy for a low-probability event, IT disaster recovery management (DRM) is increasingly becoming an important data center initiative and an ongoing optimization priority for many client organizations.”
Some key trends and observations include the following:
- With the replacement of aging tape libraries and ongoing server virtualization movement comes an opportunity for organizations to reevaluate the entire backup and recovery process
- Recovery time objectives (RTO) are becoming more demanding. 87% of respondents to a Gartner CIO survey reported recovery time objectives (RTOs) of four hours or less for their mission-critical applications.
- Despite the increasing priority level expressed for backup and recovery improvements by CIOs, more than 50% of those surveyed by Gartner still had not achieved a level in their backup infrastructure and processes that rates “good enough” maturity by Gartner, where a repeatable recovery plan and testing processes are in place
- The amount of systems considered mission-critical is on the rise, a trend which carries significant cost implications for IT. Historically, organizations have rated about 10-20% of their applications as “mission-critical,” and they invest more budget in the 20% that are mission-critical to reduce or eliminate risk of downtime or outages, with less money spent on the other 80%. Now, nearly two thirds of IT pros say greater than 20% of their applications and services are categorized as mission-critical, which means a much greater cost for backup, recovery and business continuity is looming ahead.
- Adoption of disk-based recovery solutions has grown quickly. A recent poll of enterprise storage professionals showed 44% were currently using or planning to use target-side disk backup appliances in the next 12 months.
What can IT departments do now? Based on the analyst reports and what many IT departments have done, here are some suggestions:
- Develop a comprehensive data backup and recovery plan, including an assessment of your current backup and recovery maturity level today, assumptions on data growth expected three years ahead, required SLA for recovery time, assignment of formal organizational responsibility for business continuity, and establishment of testing processes for backup and DR systems, especially any that still rely on tape today.
- Reassess the “mission-critical” rating for your IT systems to determine if any realistic opportunities exist to lower ratings. Continue focusing the greatest investment primarily on the most critical systems, and less on the lower-rated systems.
- Consider or deploy technological advancements in data backup products, including server virtualization backup improvements, instant VM recovery, data deduplication, incrementals forever or synthetic full backups, and WAN-efficient replication of deduplicated backup data
On the topic of deduplication, in a separate report, Best Practices for Addressing the Broken State of Backup, Gartner described deduplication as having become “table stakes” in the data backup and recovery market. “The value of data reduction technologies, such as deduplication, cannot be understated. Deduplication materially changes the economics of disk-based backup and recovery approaches by reducing data, resulting in significantly lower disk requirements and cost…data reduction, such as compression and deduplication, is a ‘must have’ capability for backup solutions.”
Several form-factors for deduplication are available: client-side deduplication in software, media server deduplication in software (or preloaded on a storage server and positioned as an “appliance”), or a purpose-built target-side disk backup appliance. In “Market Trends: Midsize Business Are Embracing New Backup Techniques and Vendor” (August 2011) Gartner observed that mid-sized segment has favored appliance delivery models for a range of IT capabilities over the years and is increasingly looking for pre-configured, purpose-built data backup recovery solutions. “These appliances combine disk capacity, along with advanced features, such as deduplication and replication. The top emerging vendor in this area in customer interest has been ExaGrid.”
The data backup and recovery market is indeed now in a state of modernization, where better backup and DR are becoming business imperatives. The requirements for faster backups with permanently short backup windows as data grows, faster file-level and VM restores, faster and more reliable disaster recovery, reduced complexity to manage virtual server backup and recovery—all largely driven by data growth and technological change—will remain compelling forces. To meet these requirements in today’s heterogeneous environments, IT organizations often favor newer best-of-breed backup solutions over incumbent providers of storage systems or backup applications. The willingness of IT departments to invest in new data backup capabilities such as disk backup with deduplication and other technologies will play a key role in helping businesses eliminate the risks and problems associated with legacy backup infrastructures that still rely in some way on tape.
If you’re looking to replace tape and modernize your backup and DR infrastructure, you can request no-obligation budgetary pricing for a disk backup with deduplication system from ExaGrid or a local reseller, by clicking on the graphic below.