More Than Just Backup


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The major backup software vendors are adding new ways to protect and manage data.

Data protection is changing rapidly: Point-in-time recoveries, faster legal discovery response times and near real-time disaster recoveries are becoming new requirements for corporate data protection. To address these and other needs, enterprise backup applications are adding support for continuous data protection (CDP), deduplication, ediscovery, single-instance storage (SIS) and VMware Inc.'s VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) framework to become the focal point for not just integrated data protection but enterprise data management.

An integrated, comprehensive data protection suite provides the following benefits over standalone products:

  • Aligns data protection with app requirements
  • Centralizes policy creation and management
  • Leverages CDP and host- or array-based replication for faster recovery options
  • Reduces administration and licensing costs
How these new features integrate with backup software and how they're licensed will influence the degree to which companies can centrally manage them. Vendors are integrating these features in two ways: through the use of scripts so that backup software acts as a dashboard to report and manage these

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new features, and by re-architecting back-end backup software catalogs and data stores to handle the additional meta data and data these new features create (see "Data protection checklist," below).

Data protection checklist
Corporate compliance, ease of administration, lower costs, and heightened recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are the new benchmarks by which companies should measure their data protection software. Here's a checklist of the key features companies should evaluate as vendors integrate their data protection software.

Centralized management console. Enterprise administrators must increasingly manage data that spans business units and geographic regions. Data management software must integrate with corporate security infrastructures to secure access to data, while giving administrators the appropriate permissions to protect data anywhere in the company.

Data reduction. Companies are keeping more data on disk and for longer periods of time. Data reduction reduces both cost and environmental concerns.

Information access, index and search. New laws are pushing IT and legal departments to work more closely together. Search engines must support a variety of legal search requirements.

Natively compiled 64-bit code. To manage and process the growing amount of data, the underlying backup software engine needs to work faster. Buying newer, faster 64-bit server hardware helps, but unless the backup software is natively compiled 64-bit code, it can't take full advantage of 64-bit hardware features.

Integrated support for the VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) framework. VMware is becoming a ubiquitous technology in enterprise data centers, and backup software for the VCB framework is now a prerequisite. Backup software should do more than just back up VMDK files; it should understand them so it can provide granular restores at the virtual machine or file level.

This was first published in February 2008

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