We have the survey data to prove it, but just ask any group of data storage managers what their main concern is and you're likely to hear a chorus of "data backup." For those lucky enough that backup isn't front of mind, it's probably running a close second to whatever tops their list. What's most troubling is that the backup dilemma has a history -- and a pretty long one at that. For most shops, it was also job No. 1 last year and the year before and so on.
But this cloud has a silver lining. Twenty-first century data backup tools have filtered into the enterprise data storage ecosystem and, in the slowly evolving storage market, are starting to take hold. There are now mature, practical alternatives to backup as we have known it, and products that can augment traditional backup systems. The introduction of disk into the backup process has served as the catalyst to this reformation. It's the archetypal game changer.
Technologies like virtual tape libraries (VTLs), continuous data protection (CDP) and data deduplication are poised to forever change how we do backup. And, even better, they can make restores an almost sure thing, putting to bed forever the old joke: "Our backups run fine -- it's the restores that don't work."
But getting these new backup technologies off the drawing board and into the data center has been an arduous process. Initially, many of these tools were point products offering the unpleasant prospect of managing yet another app in an already harried backup environment. And a fair number of early entries were limited by scalability or performance issues.
Most of those stumbling blocks have been overcome, but the fear of upsetting the current backup process, even if it's only marginally workable, remains. The truth is, if you haven't hit the backup wall yet, you will. That's why we put together this special collection of articles focused on new backup technologies and techniques. With capacities growing at remarkable rates, it's time to get off the backup treadmill.
--Rich Castagna, Editorial Director of the Storage Media Group
NEXT-GENERATION DATA BACKUP TOOLS E-GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Catching up with data deduplication: As the backup target gradually, but persistently, changes from tape to disk, data deduplication is becoming a key component of the backup process. Data deduplication backup products differ in how they recognize and reduce duplicate data. Here's how to pick the product that will best fit into your backup environment.
- Fine-tuning your backups: Backup and recovery applications do a good job of managing tasks such as job scheduling, tape management, library support, tracking backup data in catalogs and supporting a variety of backup media, including disks. But backup and recovery apps fall short when it comes to advanced capacity reporting, predicting usage patterns, performance tuning, troubleshooting and cost management. But reports from specialized backup tools that work alongside major backup apps can help you predict usage patterns and troubleshoot issues.
- Demystifying dedupe: Data deduplication can be implemented using software or a dedicated appliance, and each approach has a number of benefits and drawbacks. Dedupe is an attractive solution to the problem of data growth, but will deduplication work in your environment?
- Virtual machine backup tips: As server virtualization assumes a greater role in the enterprise, administrators face a proliferation of virtual machines residing on the same physical server. Virtual server backups can be accomplished using conventional backup software. However, this approach has some drawbacks. Learn about the best options for backing up virtual servers.