Modern Data Protection strategy is essential

Greg White, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at CommVault Systems

Greg White is a storage specialist and is expert on subjects like Data Management, Data Protection, Data Backup and Recovery. Greg works with the leading storage solutions provider CommVault Systems as Senior Manager of Product Marketing.

It’s no secret that today’s unprecedented data growth, datacentre consolidation and server virtualisation is wreaking havoc with conventional approaches to backup and recovery. The rapidly intensifying demand for storage is putting a tight squeeze on enterprise resources as backup and recovery becomes increasingly complex; cutting into staff time and budgets whilst also slowing operations.

Conventional backup and recovery approaches are no longer robust enough to meet current data and information management challenges. Modern Data Protection as a new strategy is it provides unparalleled advantages taking an innovative and holistic approach to data and information management. IT managers in the Middle East need to understand this.

“The exponential growth in the volume of digital information is resulting in almost unbridled growth in demand for storage capacity,” said principal analyst Amy Larsen DeCarlo in a January 2011 Current Analysis report. “Nor is there any sign of a slowdown anytime in the near future, with some industry estimates that individual storage volumes could continue to grow 90 to 100 percent year over year for the foreseeable future.”

Greg White, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at CommVault Systems, says that as data rapidly becomes one of the enterprise’s most valuable assets, determining how to analyse, replicate, protect, archive, search and recover it whenever necessary is quickly becoming more complicated. The key to keeping today’s data chaos under control is to reduce risk of loss, minimise operational complexity, and ultimately lower the cost of data management by developing a more complete understanding of your data.

In addition to the ever-intensifying data growth being experienced there is a pressure to control and manage data in huge volumes which leads to burgeoning virtual server deployments, applications with enormous data requirements, heightened business demand to reduce downtime, greater regulatory and governance requirements, and emerging “infrastructure as a service” models such as cloud storage. All of these factors impact your resources and make current data management circumstances even more critical concerns.

Legacy approaches to data management have fallen behind in the areas of protection and recovery of these massive volumes, or addressed them in a piecemeal fashion.

The Trouble with Legacy Backup

Legacy, point-level approaches that stream backups directly from production environments are fast losing their effectiveness because they can’t solve the problems of massive data overload. Enormous volumes of data lead to long backup windows, which often forces manual or complex snapshot and scripting methodologies to turn into extremely complicated and time-consuming recovery operations.

Even more frustrating, legacy backup doesn’t globally address the proliferation of redundant data leading to excessive demands on network, storage and management resources. Legacy replication, if you can afford it, is complex, resource–intensive or tied to specific hardware. There is no granularity into the data you are protecting and no integration with the applications creating that data. In turn this limits your ability to restore and use protected data as well as it increasing the time it takes to accomplish these tasks. Finally, legacy backup solutions are often dependent on a collection of loosely integrated tools and products that require scripting and individual management consoles, which is another administrative nightmare.

Employing a Modern Data Protection strategy to meet the challenges of data management in this new era means venturing beyond the models of the past and introducing a single, modern platform that integrates application intelligence with hardware snapshots, indexing, de-duplication and replication to efficiently capture, move, retain, find and recover data from any storage tier.

Making it even more appealing, this powerful, innovative approach is based on a single user interface and common code base that lets you improve recovery times, reduce costs, improve operations and consolidate budget line items. The ultimate benefit: Modern Data Protection frees you to focus your critical time and resources on your organisation’s broader business goals, by simplifying the data and information management process so you can “do more with less” and ensure that you’re also poised to meet future storage demands.

The process starts with application awareness—in-depth knowledge of applications and file systems to provide granularity into the data you are protecting, and to enable consistent, rapid copying of that data. Next, snapshot technology forms the core of the new data protection process. You must be able to create instant, application-aware recovery copies, even from heterogeneous hardware snapshots. And you need to be able to safeguard your critical information as you bridge the gap from physical to virtual server environments; rapidly deploy, grow and scale virtual servers; and implement critical applications within those environments. Modern snapshot integration improves recovery time and executes upon stringent Data SLAs, while dramatically reducing backup windows by offloading production resources for backup operations.

Once you have snapshot copies of your data, embedded, global de-duplication eliminates redundant data to increase network efficiency and reduce storage infrastructure costs. This happens at the source and across the enterprise, without the need for rehydration during restores or off site, to maximise efficiency. Source-side de-duplication can reduce up to 90% of the data moved over the network and as much as 50% of the time required to perform backups. With the right software, a single, virtual disk target can retain de-duplicated backup and archive copies for efficient retention and fast restores.

Next, Modern Data Protection provides the flexibility to maintain copies of your data on different storage tiers to meet different retention and recovery needs, ensure appropriate levels of protection over time and enhance efficiency overall. It enables you to seamlessly and automatically store some snapshots near the original data for quick, granular restore; move older backups off to less costly storage tiers and preserve copies as long as you are required to keep them. Integrated replication in data management software enables this flexibility by efficiently moving full or incremental block changes from hardware snapshot copies. It also significantly reduces the backup window while offloading server and network resources. These replicated copies can be contained in one content-aware, indexed store for both protection and archiving, which allows you to use existing or commodity disk – or even cloud storage services – to lower the total cost of ownership for retained backup and archive data, and to increase IT and business agility.

Automation, role-based security and reporting are also core tenets that factor into your Modern Data Protection strategy. To reduce storage and storage management costs, for instance, almost all manual activities should be eliminated through policy-based approaches and centralised administration that automates the movement of backup and archive data to the most cost-effective storage locations. Security is also paramount, so a modern data solution must provide not only the means with which to secure data but also the flexibility to let administrators selectively define which data different types of users are authorised to see and manipulate.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how good your backup process is if you can’t recover data quickly and efficiently. The last critical element in a Modern Data Protection solution is therefore recovery management.

A centralised control that enables granular recovery of files, emails or documents from any storage tier improves recovery time and recovery point objectives. With enterprises in jeopardy of losing irreplaceable business data, and personnel and budgets already stretched, traditional backup and recovery is broken. A Modern Data Protection approach offers unrivaled advantages over legacy data management systems and ensures that your organisation is future-proofed.