Source deduplicationcan be used to ease traditional remote site backup problems by reducing the amount of backup data that needs to be transmitted. In this buyer's guide on source deduplication, you will learn about key features in source deduplication products, and we've also provided a quick reference chart that provides important details about major source dedupe products to help make your buying decisions easier.
Backups of remote sites and laptops have plagued IT departments for years. While remote sites typically have relatively small amounts of data in comparison to centralized data centers, the data that’s “out in the field” is often just as important as home office data. Because producers of data “at the edge” are often closer to a company’s customers, the data they create may be among the most important information a company has. But as important as the data may be, safeguarding it is often left in the hands of non-IT personnel or staff members with little or no training. In many cases, the person entrusted with backing up the site’s data lacks any significant computer experience and doesn’t understand the importance of effective backups. But the traditional choices for backing up remote data require quite a bit of computer-related knowledge.
Remote backup options typically meant running some type of backup software at the site that was connected to a removable media storage device, usually a tape drive. Managing those removable media devices is the biggest problem at many remote offices. Being certain that media is inserted, ejected, rotated and stored properly can be a challenge. Offsite storage of backup media is another issue, requiring pickup by a vaulting service or some other means of securing the media off-premises for each remote site. Some firms cut corners and skip shipping the media offsite altogether, while others simply put backup tapes in someone’s trunk or living room.
Mobile users add logistics to the remote-office backup problem. Those users may attempt to back up their data by using rewritable DVDs, solid-state “thumb drives” or USB-connected external hard drives, but those devices require a certain degree of expertise to use properly. And while they’re made to be transported and are less prone to environmental issues than tape, they’re often carried along with a laptop and can be lost or stolen just as easily.
None of these methods—whether they appear to be working or not—adequately addresses the issue of getting the data back to a company’s central site.
How source deduplication can solve the problem
Backup and recovery of remote-office data is still a struggle, but in the past five years there have been a number of developments that can take some of the sting out of securing remote data. All of the options available today do a better job than traditional methods, and most are far easier.
Source data deduplication has emerged as one of the most popular options as it not only takes care of backing up remote servers and workstations, but can efficiently ship the backup data to a central location using existing wide-area network (WAN) facilities.
Data deduplication—or dedupe—is a process that identifies and eliminates redundant data at a sub-file level. It doesn’t just find redundant files; it identifies redundant segments of data within and among files. There are two primary types of dedupe systems: target deduplication and source deduplication.
Target deduplication systems are disk systems that are used as the destination for backup streams delivered by traditional backup applications. When native, non-deduplicated backup jobs are received by the target system, the data is then deduped. The deduped backups can then be replicated to another target dedupe system for offsite storage.
A target dedupe system can be used to back up remote sites, but that would require some kind of target deduplication appliance at each site with the data then replicated to a central site. But purchasing a dedupe appliance for each remote site can be very costly. And the appliances can’t be used to protect laptops when they’re disconnected from the remote sites’ network.
Source deduplication doesn’t require special hardware, and remote office sites and laptop users can be supported using a single product. Source dedupe can provide both onsite and offsite recovery mechanisms for larger remote sites, even with very demanding data recovery objectives.
Source deduplication products can protect remote site data by significantly reducing the amount of backup data that needs to be transmitted. The products are generally easy to implement and use, but you’ll need to match their capabilities with your specific remote site backup needs.
This was first published in April 2011