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Disk-based data backup and recovery trends

Deni Connor

It has been pretty well established that storage/backup administrators are moving to disk technology from tape for data backup and recovery. Disk is faster to write to than tape and faster to recover data from: It has all the characteristics important to data protection and recovery.

While the rest of the IT infrastructure is expected to suffer in 2009, disk sales are expected to grow. Research firm IDC predicts that shipments of external disk system terabytes will increase at a rate of 60% from 2004 to 2009 and that revenue will increase from $22.6 billion in 2004 to $26.3 billion in 2009.

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Our goal is a real-time backup and no tapes.
Roland Etcheverry
CTOChampion Technologies Inc.
Roland Etcheverry, CTO for Champion Technologies Inc. in Houston, is a user who is following the trend toward disk-based backup. Etcheverry installed a FalconStor Software Network Storage Server, which he uses to snapshot data every hour.

"By the end of the first quarter, we will have moved from a one-hour snapshot and replicating the snapshot to replicating in real-time and having a nearline mirror in place," says Etcheverry. "At that point, if you need to restore something, the nearline mirror along with the continuous data protection allows us to roll back our data to whatever granularity we establish. It also means that we won't need tapes any longer. Our goal is a real-time backup and no tapes."

In spite of this need for buying more storage, storage administrators are looking to save money, too. They not only want to reduce their capital expenditures for storage but optimize their storage resources so they can get more from less. They will adopt technologies that give them increased efficiencies in storage while reducing costs -- technologies that let them back up less data to disk, recover data faster and still protect it.

Several backup and recovery technologies fit this message of increased storage efficiency. They are:

  • Virtual tape libraries (VTLs): The use of VTLs allow you to accelerate backup and recovery, improve backup success rates and increase data availability, while reducing data protection costs. VTLs are implemented either via software- or software-based appliances by vendors such as FalconStor, IBM Corp. and Sepaton Inc.
  • Data deduplication: Data dedupe goes hand in hand with VTLs. By reducing the amount of data that is being backed up to disk, users are able to minimize the storing of redundant data, increase backup speed and maximize disk space. Among the vendors offering data duplication are Data Domain, Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., IBM, NetApp, Quantum Corp. and Sepaton.
  • Integrated encryption: Encrypting the contents of backed up data protects it from loss or misuse. A number of vendors offer encryption options with their backup software. Among them are CommVault Simpana, EMC Corp. NetWorker, IBM Corp. Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) and Symantec Corp. Veritas NetBackup. CommVault, for example, allows encryption when the initial backup is writing to disk or when secondary copies of backups are made to tape for transport offsite.
  • Virtualization: Storing images of virtual machines on networked storage is going to become more important as users need to recover the images when a server fails or when a new server needs to be provisioned. Technology aiding virtualization comes from vendors such as NetApp, whose FlexClone technology replicates data volumes, files and LUNs as virtual copies without requiring additional disk space.
  • Use of low-cost Serial ATA disk: Using less-expensive Serial ATA disks as backup media can save money over the use of primary Fibre Channel disk. According to IDC, more than 650 million Serial ATA drives have shipped since its introduction in 2001. Most storage vendors have incorporated SATA drives into their arrays.

Extracting efficiency from your backup infrastructure in 2009 is the new mantra for storage administrators. Getting that same efficiency from storage by using technologies such as deduplication and virtualization is a requirement for any organization that wants to reduce their costs and save money this year.

About this author: Deni Connor is principal analyst with Storage Strategies NOW in Austin, TX.


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