Using a Data Backup Appliance

It is well-known in the modern world today that the prevalence and criticalness of backing up your systems and information is of the utmost importance to any enterprise. Whether an individual, family, or enterprise, the threat towards cybersecurity is a wide-spread and all-inclusive battle, in which everyone has a role to play. This threat is constantly evolving and changing as the amount of information available digitally increases. Where there’s a greater supply of data, there will be a higher demand, with a lot of that demand not always satisfied through legal channels.

Using a Data Backup Appliance

As the demand of your data increases, so also will be your need to meet it. Therefore it might be the right time for you to utilize a data backup appliance.

Considerations When Backing Up

Recovery Point Objectives & Recovery Time Objectives

Service levels for data protection are typically measured with Recovery Point Objectives (RPO’s) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO’s). These measurements are indicators of how much data can be lost and how long it takes to recover information. While it can be tempting to assume they should both be as low as possible, all the time, it is more important to align them with the goals of the business. These goals are influenced by the type of data, how often it’s backed up, how long the data is retained, and various other aspects. By aligning the importance of the data with the amount of security, better protection for the important data can be provided without increasing operational or capital costs.

Centralize Backup Strategy on a Disk

Audits performed on the backup strategy for a site or system should be performed on an enterprise-level and reveal remote equipment, especially when only used for backup. Diagnosing, maintaining, and supporting this remote equipment is difficult at best and eliminating unnecessary headaches is a big step towards a streamlined backup strategy.

Using disk storage to improve backup operation is another big step for creating an efficient backup strategy, especially around media management. While a disk may have higher initial startup costs, when purchased according to the goals of the business, eliminating tape partially or completely will be another huge step.

Bringing in A Data Backup Appliance

You can define a Data Backup Appliance as a complete backup system that includes hardware to store backed up data and software that controls the process of copying data from client servers and computers to the storage system. Many of these products are capable of copying to either Direct-Attached Storage (DAS) or a networked storage (NAS or SAN).

While early backup appliances were better suited for small to midsize companies, as they were meant to replace the need for a complex IT department and solution, they have evolved into very capable devices that have become cutting-edge backup solutions. Due to technologies such as data deduplication, thin provisioning, and compression, plus the affordability of processing power and network connectivity, it’s now possible to implement the appliances without significantly impacting the ingest and throughput speed of the appliance. The time saved now when employed by even the biggest IT departments in the world can be used for other problems.

The Pros of a Data Backup Appliance

The primary initiative of implementing a data backup appliance is to simplify the initial implementation and ongoing support of backup software and hardware. The ease with which the appliance is initiated is as simple as plugging it into electrical power and connecting to the network. Most products today include disk capacity and tape or tape libraries so that even the backup target is ensured to be correctly configured.

Another advantage is that the appliance can be pre-tuned to the task at hand. The network cards can be optimized for large block transfers and the underlying operating system can be tuned for this single task, in some cases leading to the discarding of unnecessary operating system parts. This approach also will allow for better support for the customer in that there are fewer things to consider when troubleshooting.

The Cons of a Data Backup Appliance

While it’s true that the backup server, its networking and targets are often pre-configured, software for the server clients will still need to be installed. This process can get extensive due to each physical server, hypervisor, and virtual machines that must have this software installed. Some systems will support “push” installation, which eliminates the need to log into every system, but push installation is not always 100% reliable and so may lead to further troubleshooting if not properly executed.

Once the installation phase is complete, most of the appliances need to be operated in a similar fashion to conventional methods. The backups still need to be scheduled, monitored, and adjusted according to the environment and the goals of the business.

The limited variability of the system can also be a detriment when a new disk appliance or tape is necessary as the software may not configure to the new backup target.

Is A Data Backup Appliance for You?

The key advantage to a data backup appliance is the rapid and straightforward installation process along with the ease of having a streamlined, singular backup solution. While there are factors to consider for every given situation, and the day-to-day operations of it are similar to a conventional method, the back-side part of the installation process is one of the costlier aspects of a backup strategy. It is also the area most prone to error due to poor server configuration or the improper tuning of the software to the server and backup target hardware.

In many cases, a data backup appliance is probably worth it, due to the ease with which it can be installed and the savings in time, energy, and money that it can bring in both the initial setup and the ongoing server maintenance. When considering your backup strategy and the RPO’s and RTO’s of your enterprise’s goals, you may find that a data backup appliance is the right solution for you.

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