3 Ways to Use Backup Appliances to Mitigate Risks of Data Loss

When it comes to protecting critical corporate information against catastrophic data loss, IT organizations must deal with several harsh realities. Tighter budgets, smaller staffs, relentless increases in the amount of structured and unstructured data, virtual machine sprawl, new compliance mandates and the need for always-available applications and services mean more must be done to protect data without creating undue financial and operational burdens on the organization.

Since risk comes in many forms—such as malicious attacks, increased infrastructure complexity, technology failure, natural disasters and human error—IT professionals are looking for new solutions that address both current and future challenges. These solutions have to be designed with a high degree of automation in order to relieve IT management burdens, while also being affordable enough to fit into tight budget constraints.

A class of data protection solution that is rapidly gaining popularity and acceptance is integrated backup appliances. Sometimes referred to as “purpose-built backup appliances,” these disk-based solutions are improving data protection reliability and performance by helping to reduce and even eliminate the use of legacy tape-based backup. In fact, market research IDC predicts sales of purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs) will reach nearly $5.9 billion by 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 19.4%. IDC notes that there are two distinct types of PBBAs: target appliances and integrated appliances. Because integrated appliances support such essential backup functions as native integration with backup software, data movement, scheduling and media management, the integrated appliance market sector is where the most robust growth is happening.

Integrated backup appliances help mitigate risk of data loss by addressing three key issues:

They focus on backup and recovery: Backup has become more critical than ever for two main reasons: Data is accumulating inside organizations at faster and faster rates, and it is becoming more complex to manage. Many IT organizations took the first step by migrating backup from tape to disk, but that didn’t always address challenges associated with having to deal with multiple, heterogeneous platforms. At the same time, more emphasis has been placed on the recovery process because of the potentially dire implications of data loss during outages and the need to quickly and reliably restore information to its most recent accurate state. Integrated backup appliances are designed to make backup a more seamless, intelligent activity that reduces IT overhead while aligning with organizations’ disaster recovery and business continuity plans. These appliances’ tight integration with the backup software allows organizations to tighten backup time frames, while reducing and even eliminating manual intervention through extensive use of automation. Additionally, integrated backup appliances support important new architectural models such as storage and server virtualization and cloud computing, helping IT departments future-proof their backup infrastructure.

They reduce the number of point products: The tremendous growth in data is, to a large degree, a result of the sprawl of both physical and virtual servers to handle more and increasingly diverse workloads. This has caused IT organizations to deploy multiple backup and recovery solutions for individual servers and workloads, adding even more cost and complexity to infrastructure. In particular, target appliances compound the problem because they are most often deployed as a point solution rather than as part of a strategic backup platform. Even with the rapid growth in disk capacities, backup solutions have been hard-pressed to match the escalating requirements for additional systems to be installed, tested, deployed and managed. By implementing affordable solutions built on standards-based appliances running proven backup software like Symantec Backup Exec and NetBackup. These integrated backup solutions help to significantly reduce the amount of required network bandwidth with onboard data deduplication designed and implemented at the factory, as opposed to added on after the fact. The end result: Integrated backup appliances dramatically reduce the number of individual point products to back up different servers and workloads.

They provide future-proofed solutions: There is no doubt that backup and recovery requirements are going to grow—consistently and dramatically—over time. That means that data storage must support scalability in both capacity and performance, and must be based on standards-based architectures with a proven and documented blueprint for future development paths. For instance, the Symantec 5200 family of integrated backup solutions offers IT organizations the benefit of a standards-based design built on the market-leading NetBackup software platform that has been trusted by thousands of enterprise organizations for decades. It has been consistently upgraded and has offered increased functionality for years. This solution also offers organizations the important capability of reducing human error by mitigating the need for significant intervention, management and tuning by IT professionals to handle data protection tasks. In particular, IDC’s report noted that backup and recovery for remote offices “can be a challenge for many organizations because of the physical handling of removable media at the remote site.” Another area where integrated backup appliances can significantly reduce manual handling of data and backup-related activities is patch management, a critical element in strategies to mitigate the potential for data loss. Lab-based testing by Enterprise Strategy Group, for instance, demonstrated that patch management can be significantly improved and simplified through the use of integrated backup appliances. These and other technical advances—many of them driven by sophisticated automation techniques--improve reliability and enhance IT organizations’ ability to continue upgrading their backup and recovery capabilities over time.

As backup and recovery becomes simultaneously more important and more challenging, organizations are increasingly turning to integrated backup devices to reduce complexity, improve reliability and save money on backup. Integrated backup appliances such as those from Symantec combine cost-efficient, proven, standards-based storage infrastructure with leading backup and storage management software in a small appliance form factor.

By reducing management complexity and deployment time while trimming costs, integrated backup appliances are an excellent alternative to the sprawling, patchwork web of backup solutions that create numerous challenges for many IT organizations.