The concept of information backups existed long before the age of computers and the Internet. As information technology became an increasingly important part of the modern business, the techniques used to backup enterprise information evolved accordingly. Yet, the world of information technology is never static. That means data backup solutions that were deemed highly effective a decade ago may easily have fallen into obsolescence today.
That’s why every enterprise should regularly evaluate the methods they use to back up business data so they can establish whether their current setup is still the most effective. The factors currently driving change in the data backup universe include cost, explosive data growth, demanding recovery expectations, lengthy data retention periods, as well as new realities and regulations around privacy, data security and governance.
Here’s a look at some of the data backup methods that are making waves. Some have been around for a while but are seeing a surge in interest.
1. Snapshot Management
Split mirrors and snapshots aren’t really new. They’ve long been used in the backup of critical applications. Managing snapshots can, however, be a challenging endeavor especially in large organizations where there are diverse operating systems, hardware platforms and applications in use at any one time.
Fortunately, a number of backup vendors have developed integrated solutions that allow the management of the snapshots on a single dashboard. There’s no longer a need to create individual scripts for the different technologies. You can convert manual snapshot management tasks into repeatable, consistent and automated operations. This all leads to rapid recovery of enterprise systems whenever needed.
Like snapshots, replication is an established data protection mechanism, especially where disaster recovery is required. It involves the incremental copying of data at a block-level from one host to another. Whenever there’s a data change on the host, the change is replicated on the target.
Replication can be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous means data is transferred to the secondary copy in real time. In other words, the write command from an application or user isn’t acknowledged or marked complete before the change has been applied on both the host and target site.
Asynchronous replication doesn’t take place until after the write has been applied on the host. Synchronous has the advantage of ensuring the host and target copies are always the same but the real-time copying can deteriorate the performance of applications.
3. Virtual Tape Libraries (VTL)
VTL is a data storage system that’s comprised of RAID-protected, array-based hard disks that simulate a physical tape library. The disks are presented to backup applications as a tape drive. Data is then written sequentially as it would on a tape but since the media is a disk, the writing and reading can be done much faster.
Other than speeding up the recovery and backup times, VTLs can lower operating costs, are compatible with deduplication (which we’ll look at shortly) and are scalable. When implementing a VTL, some of the things you need to consider include how it interfaces with existing tape libraries, your backup applications, and your remote replication system.
4. Data Deduplication
Data deduplication, also known as single-instance storage or intelligent compressions, is a technique that gets rid of redundant data and lowers overall storage overhead. Deduplication ensures that only one instance of data is retained on tape, flash, disk or other storage media. Redundant blocks are replaced with data pointers that direct applications to the unique copy.
For example, an email server may have dozens or hundreds of copies of the same 2MB attachment. When the server is backed up, all these instances are stored. With deduplication, just one instance of this attachment will be retained. Data deduplication serves a near similar role as incremental backup which only copies the data that’s changed since the last backup.
Data is arguably the most valuable asset of the modern business. The loss or corruption of enterprise information can cripple operations, attract regulatory and legal action, and damage the organization’s reputation. Applying modern backup techniques can go a long way in ensuring your business can quickly recover in the event of a data loss incident.