Feature

Backup and archiving get closer together

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Unified recovery is likely to become a more familiar term as an increasing number of vendors bring technologies such as backup, continuous data protection, data deduplication and replication together to be accessed from a single console. What's up for debate right now is whether or not archiving should also be brought into the mix.

The idea of bringing all of the different aspects of data protection together, including archiving, is relatively new to users and vendors alike. "Not all IT organizations have thought about things this way, and obviously not all the vendors have responded," says Lauren Whitehouse, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, Milford, MA. "Only a handful [of them] have really thought about it," she adds.

CommVault's Simpana 7.0, the recently announced update and rebranding of the firm's QiNetix data management suite, integrates modular components, including backup, archiving, replication, search and resource management. Production, backup and archive data (both on- and offline) runs through a central policy repository to be indexed after which all of the data can be searched simultaneously. Symantec is working on integrating APIs across its Veritas NetBackup, Veritas CommandCentral and EnterpriseVault, though users will continue to access each product through its own console.

Marty Hurd, IT administrator at Cardinal Logistics Management Corp., a transportation company in Concord, NC, uses CommVault's QiNetix 6.1 to

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back up approximately 6TB weekly and is planning to have Simpana up and running by March of next year. He's interested in the upgrade not only because it will allow him to snapshot his entire server environment (he currently performs snapshots only of his Network Appliance filers), but also because it will allow end users to recover data on their own whether it's been archived or is still online, without having to go through him.

"If they can just go into the interface and choose the file they want ... they get what they need a lot faster than having to go through a chain of command," says Hurd.

It's not clear whether other storage vendors will follow suit and merge backup and archive, either by combining interfaces, centralizing policy management, creating a single repository for backup and archived data, or some combination of all three. But there may be good reason to keep the two processes separate. For example, in many larger or highly regulated companies, archiving responsibilities could fall to the company's content management team, who would then be responsible for deciding which technology should be used.

"That isn't to say that IT operations and infrastructure isn't involved," says Stephanie Balaouras, senior analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. "But I think because of regulatory and legal issues, if it's driven by that, the decision is made somewhere else in the organization."

--Trina MacDonald

This was first published in September 2007

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