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Integrate the cloud with your backup app

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Backup apps can link to the cloud

There are now a number of companies with software and hardware products that support backing up to the cloud. The first backup application vendor to announce support was Zmanda Inc., a commercial firm that offers its version of Amanda, an open source backup program. Amanda Enterprise 3.1 is capable of backing up directly to Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud storage service.

CommVault Systems Inc.'s Simpana supports backing up to any cloud vendor that supports the Representational State Transfer (REST) protocol. So you can use cloud storage services such as Amazon, Iron Mountain, Microsoft Azure, Nirvanix or Rackspace as a target for CommVault Simpana backups or archives. Archiving may actually be a more appropriate data protection application for cloud storage because archivers don't perform repeated fulls and they have object-level dedupe built in.

EMC Corp. and Symantec Corp. did something similar when they each added the capability to back up to their own networks. EMC NetWorker backs up to any cloud vendor using EMC Atmos-based storage, while Symantec Backup Exec backs up to the Symantec Protection Network.

If your company uses a backup application that doesn't yet support backing up to the cloud, you might want to consider Nasuni Corp.'s Filer, which provides an NFS/CIFS NAS gateway to cloud storage. Any decent backup software package can back up to an NFS or CIFS mount.

Although

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it has limitations, one must still consider the availability of data deduplication when exploring backup applications that integrate with the cloud. Neither EMC NetWorker nor Amanda has any deduplication built into its products. CommVault Simpana and Symantec Backup Exec can deduplicate data before it's sent to the backup target. Simpana offers target deduplication that does the deduping once the data is sent to the media agent, while Backup Exec uses source deduplication with deduplication occurring at the client before the data is sent across the network. This makes them much more attractive companions to cloud storage. IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) customers also have an interesting option with Nasuni because TSM has deduplication built in.

Try it, but test it

Cloud backup services can be great complements to traditional backup systems, especially when those systems provide some level of integration. Because a cloud backup service will require little if any hardware to be installed on your site, it's relatively easy to perform a full proof of concept using real data. This is especially important because implementation may require substantial investments for licenses and have a profound effect on your backup environment. As with any backup product or service, you should test everything and believe nothing.

BIO: W. Curtis Preston is an executive editor in TechTarget's Storage Media Group and an independent backup expert. Curtis has worked extensively with data deduplication and other data-reduction systems.

This was first published in October 2010

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