Data backup tools evolve with cloud, vStorage APIs and source dedupe

The latest developments in data backup tools space include cloud backup, growing support for vStorage APIs and source dedupe. Assistant Editor John Hilliard recently spoke with Rachel Dines, an analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., to analyze the current state of data backup tools and the rise of cloud storage. Learn about the most important trends in data backup tools, such as the VMware vStorage APIs for Data Protection, and new features in data backup tools like source deduplication. Listen to our podcast of the interview or read our transcript below.

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What are the most significant developments in the backup software market in the past year or so?

Some of the biggest developments [in data backup tools] have been around the cloud. I’m seeing a lot of on-premise backup providers starting to extend to backup data to the cloud as a target. That is a major innovation in the backup software space.

In addition, over the past year-and-a-half to two years or so, the addition of source deduplication into the majority of on-premise enterprise backup solutions has been a pretty big innovation as well. I could also say that the hardware/software integration you see with OST and [Data Domain] Boost are also pretty major innovations in the space.

How much support is there for the vStorage APIs?

It was about two years ago that we saw the introduction of VMware’s vStorage APIs for Data Protection to replace VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) , and the vStorage APIs are a much more elegant solution than VCB ever was. Essentially, it creates a snapshot of the virtual machine (VM), and mounts it to a backup server and then you can do backup with any on-premise, any traditional backup storage software that supports the vStorage APIs. You can take those snapshots and turn them into backups in that software. Pretty much all the major data backup tools today are now supporting the vStorage APIs.

What software vendors do you see as leaders in the VM backup space?

For a little while, the major backup providers were lagging a little in this space, and we saw the introduction of virtualization backup tools like Veeam and Vizioncore, which is now Quest vRanger.

Those tools were great at that point in time, but we’ve gotten to the point where the majority of the traditional backup players are now pretty strong in the VMware space. [But] now, if you’re running some other kind of virtualization environment besides VMware, then that’s where it gets a little bit tricky. A lot of the vendors don’t have the capabilities in the Hyper-V or the Xen space necessarily.

What about software-based dedupe? Are you seeing an increased adoption of software dedupe, and if so, what do you think is driving that?

I am seeing more and more people use the deduplication in their backup software, and I think some of the drivers here [include] simplification—if you can have your deduplication in your backup software, as opposed to in your hardware, that’s just one less console you have to manage. Another one is definitely cost savings, [since] people are looking to use the dedupe license, deduplication in their backup software and then use any kind of cheap dump disk on the back end. [This] also allows you to not be locked into a particular hardware vendor. It’s a really economical solution for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and some small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but I’m still seeing enterprises take the approach of deduplication in the appliance.

What are some of the challenges with integrating cloud backup into other backup tools?

The cloud is the major innovation of the past few years, seeing the traditional on-premise players integrate with the cloud. Looking at the on-premise backup space, I think the major challenge is going to be providing integration with as many different cloud providers as possible. Right now, most of the backup providers that do have backup integration only have one or two partners, if that, and users are going to be looking for the ability to send their data to whatever cloud they want. That is going to be one major hurdle to overcome because there are so many different protocols clouds are using, [and] integrating with all of them is going to be a challenge.

I also think that a major challenge with any kind of cloud backup—whether it’s on-premise, disk-to-disk-to-cloud or backup-as-a-service—is that restore. Having to work with large amounts of data and bringing that over the wire can be difficult to say the least, and it can be very slow. I would say a general challenge with backup-as-a-service and online backup is that restore portion.

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