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When is a flat backup appropriate for my workload?

Protecting data with a flat backup may be the right choice for a workload, but there are several factors an organization must consider when making that decision.

Flat backups work by replicating storage snapshots. Consequently, if a workload cannot be protected by a storage snapshot, it cannot be protected by a flat backup.

At one time, this would have meant flat backup technology wasn't an option for protecting application servers. However, major storage hardware vendors have introduced application-consistent snapshot capabilities into their products. This means protecting an application server by using a flat backup may be an option, as long as the storage hardware supports application-consistent snapshots for that particular application.

Flat backups are vendor specific, so they probably won't be an option for organizations that use a variety of storage hardware from multiple vendors.

In some cases, available bandwidth may be the limiting factor that prevents the use of flat backups. Remember, the technology works by replicating snapshots to an alternate location. To function correctly, the flat backup mechanism must keep pace with snapshot creation or a backlog can occur that may be impossible to overcome.

If a flat backup is created within the local data center, replication performance won't be much of an issue as long as high-speed connectivity exists between the primary storage and protected storage. However, bandwidth can become a problem if snapshots are replicated to a remote data center over a wide-area network connection. This is especially true for environments with a lot of write-intensive applications.

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