3 Must-Haves for Better Backup and Recovery Infrastructure

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The massive growth in all forms of data is threatening to overtake IT organizations’ ability to reliably, securely and affordably deal with mounting data storage backup and recovery requirements. For years, many organizations simply bought more tape drives or even morphed their backup infrastructure to a disk-centric paradigm; after all, storage devices were getting cheaper and capacities and performance were constantly improving. At the same time, organizations are looking to support enhanced IT agility in order to deliver services including data protection and recovery faster.

But today’s enterprises—and even many midsize and smaller organizations—are finding that backup and recovery is becoming far too complex and expensive to keep doing things the same way they’ve done it in the past. There is just way too much data—especially unstructured data—and infrastructure has become too heterogeneous and virtualized to continue with their existing backup and recovery infrastructure.

Many organizations are adopting purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs) in order to simplify backup and recovery deployment and management, while keeping both capital expenses and operating expenses at more affordable levels. According to market research firm IDC, sales of these backup appliances will grow by nearly 20% annually by 2016 – due in large part to enterprises’ goals of making backup infrastructure acquisition, deployment and management more reliable and cost efficient.

IDC points out that there are two different types of PBBAs: target systems and integrated systems. Target systems are used with third-party backup software and integrate with heterogeneous environments. However, they do not include traditional data movement, scheduling and/or media management features that are normally part of backup software. Integrated systems, by contrast, actually integrate with backup software, and then go even further by utilizing built-in master/media servers to orchestrate backup and data movement.

There are three important requirements that IT organizations need to demand from suppliers of backup appliances in order to get a handle on backup and recovery infrastructure cost and complexity:

  • Simplicity and affordability through integration. Instead of continuing to pile up purchases of more and more storage devices, software licenses and network capacity in order to meet backup and recovery demands, IT professionals should commit to integrated appliances that combine affordable hard-disk systems with industry-leading backup and storage management software in a small form-factor appliance format. These appliances typically have media servers built into the system to facilitate backup and data movement to other servers or media types. Application software is closely integrated with the appliance, allowing IT organizations to more easily, quickly and affordably implement the solution, as well as to execute requisite backup functions. This level of integration also reduces the management burden on already-stretched IT departments, especially as data volumes become larger and the need to restore data immediately in the event of a service interruption becomes more important.
  • On-board data deduplication. Data deduplication has become an increasingly standard feature in data storage solutions in order to optimize storage capacity and improve performance. However, deduplication isn’t implemented the same way, which may result in spotty and occasionally disappointing results. This can be addressed by selecting integrated backup appliances that are pre-installed with data deduplication. By designing and configuring deduplication at the factory, instead of retrofitting it to one or more backup platforms already in operation, backup and recovery becomes more efficient and responsive, and more resilient during the recovery process. Also be sure that your new backup and recovery infrastructure delivers end-to-end data deduplication, encompassing both source- and target-side deduplication. This is important because you’ll need to fine-tune how deduplication affects your production systems and network bandwidth, which in turn limits the potential impact on business operations.
  • Scalability. Rapid and ceaseless expansion of data—especially unstructured data such as video, email and social media—has put unprecedented pressure on IT organizations to scale their backup infrastructures to accommodate that growth. This scalability has to not only accommodate large capacity increases, but it must also maintain consistently high performance to ensure that recovering and rebuilding data stores happens rapidly in order to enable full and timely business continuity. All-in-one integrated backup appliances can be configured in different ways to ensure the rapid, reliable movement of hundreds of terabytes of data. Backup and recovery infrastructure also must scale to meet the needs of new and expanding requirements, including remote offices, mirrored data centers or virtual machines running individual workloads that can go live on a moment’s notice. Finally, this massive scalability must accompany support for essential applications, storage infrastructure and the operating system within the backup environment, making a proven, reliable backup software platform like NetBackup essential.

Conclusion
IT organizations continue to face new and escalating pressures to keep up with immense data growth by putting in place new backup and recovery infrastructure that is flexible, manageable, easily deployed, expandable and cost efficient. Integrated backup appliances such as Symantec’s NetBackup 5200 series help storage administrators keep up with backup and recovery demands without having to spend huge incremental sums on additional devices and more software licenses.

Since Symantec’s integrated backup appliances are based on the market-leading NetBackup software, IT organizations can deliver essential backup and recovery requirements such as end-to-end data deduplication, support for server virtualization, WAN optimization, snapshots and scale-out performance.