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2020 data backup trends aim for faster, cheaper

These impending data backup trends will provide better peace of mind for the reliability of recovery and help your organization use backups more efficiently.

2019 feels a lot like the year every organization woke up and realized, "We need to actually keep our environment running!"

Sure, larger enterprises have been doing this for a while, but smaller businesses are realizing the urgency. The changes in expectations around your organization's operational availability from employees, contractors, partners, supply chains and customers have been cause for changes in the way organizations view backups as part of their disaster recovery (DR) strategy. The concept has gone from being an insurance policy to a continual part of business operations.

In addition, cyberattacks such as ransomware appear to have no end in sight and can seriously mess with your data, systems and even your directory service. All these factors have an impact on your DR strategy.

So, what data backup trends are coming in 2020?

The changes in backups involve adjustments in the specific ways you use technology to inch closer and closer to the goal of "fastest, cheapest, yet most reliable recovery ever." Here are three to consider.

1. A deeper focus on truly predictable recovery

This goes beyond the simple idea of validating backup jobs and testing backup images; I'm talking about having a real confidence in the strategy and execution of your backup's efforts to know it's going to work. Gartner has already started this charge in data backup trends. In its most recent Magic Quadrant for Data Center Backup and Recovery Solutions, Gartner augmented the very definition of required features to facilitate an ability to recover -- no matter the loss.

I'm hearing more and more about the idea of ensuring 100% backup success. Again, assuming the validation of backups is already being done, the idea of achieving total backup success may require some changes in strategy and infrastructure. Some of you may need to include backup validation, recovery verification and DR simulation testing to your DR strategy. Those of you with these processes already in place may also need to look at using storage hardware designed to provide data consistency across all storage mediums used to host backups.

2. New ways to use backups

The data in your backups can do more than just help you recover. Backup products are evolving to analyze backups to provide insight into both how they should be configured and where they should be stored. For example, if a particular backup job protects a data set that doesn't change and has never been recovered, it could be determined that you need to back it up less frequently and you can store it on cheaper, colder storage tiers.

The changes in backups involve adjustments in the specific ways you use technology to inch closer and closer to the goal of 'fastest, cheapest, yet most reliable recovery ever.'

Additionally, that Gartner report is calling for an ability to search backups across any and all storage mediums used to look for specific data sets that need recovering. We're not talking about just looking for a backup job in your admin console; we're talking about finding, for example, a specific file in any of your backups.

Lastly, your backups define the state your environment will be in should a given backup be recovered. For example, will systems need to be patched once recovered, or are they infected with malware? Forward-looking backup products are taking strides to use backups to proactively determine whether a backup is viable (as in the case of the potentially malware-infected system backup) and what else needs to be done to ensure it will work in the recovered environment productively and securely (as in the case of the patch updates needed). This last piece of data backup trends will require serious integration with security and DR orchestration products to make it become a reality.

3. More efficient use of tiered storage

Tiers of storage are only a few years old, but as we move into 2020, the concept is at a maturity point that it's no longer a feature but a necessity for your backup and recovery strategy. If you're not yet using storage tiers, as the amount of data used by your organization increases, you'll eventually find yourself using tiers.

Your use of tiered storage should be based on the amount of data stored, the purpose of the backed-up data in question and the standard cost vs. benefits analysis. In general, the colder the tier of storage, the lower the cost per gigabyte. But cost isn't everything; in fact, the more important factors are the first byte retrieval time and the recovery processing time.

2020: Be ready for backup changes

Achieving much of what I've covered is dependent upon the technology you use. Backup software and storage vendors are all looking for ways to make backup and recovery efforts more efficient and effective. While I can't be certain your organization will be following these data backup trends in 2020, I do know you're going to at least begin to feel the pressure to move in these directions. The good news is that your backup and recovery are only going to get better, cheaper, faster and more predictable -- the question of when is up to you.

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