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Real-world object-based backup
Early adopters of object-based backup will be organizations experiencing significant problems with backup, and a cutting-edge solution may be less risky than attempting to retool their current backup infrastructure. Companies facing increased demand to keep archival data accessible as a result of regulatory compliance demands may also benefit from object-based backup and archive solutions.

In addition, enterprises with branch offices or remote operations that need a low-overhead, small-footprint backup solution may be prime candidates for object-based backup. In large companies where significantly altering backup/archive operations might stir up budgeting, cultural or technical issues, their major investments in backup software and tape are likely to deter any radical changes. But even in those cases, a hybrid approach may prove to be a beneficial blending of architectures.

The two primary object-based backup implementation scenarios are:

  • Standalone implementations of object-based backup that are intended to completely replace existing backup infrastructure (see "Three ways to use object-based backup")
  • Integrated implementations that place the object-based backup into existing backup infrastructures
Either way, data is transferred to the backup environment, where it is managed based on backup and archive

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policies. For both scenarios, the object-based backup disk storage is the primary pool for data storage and restore.

Backing up files in use--also known as fuzzy backup--is also an issue with object-based backup. To successfully back up this data, the responsibility lies with applications and intelligent API-type backup modules to extract data out of the application for backup. The traditional method is database backup, where the database application must be halted or the database must have an export function to create static files for backup.

Object-based backup doesn't solve this dilemma because active data backup issues at the file level still exist at the subfile level. Object-based backup vendors with standalone client software must develop their own interfaces to applications and databases to deal with so-called fuzzy backups.

Another scenario involves using dual infrastructures for multiple-site disaster recovery, where a primary object-based backup environment replicates data changes to an alternative mirror environment. Object-based backup provides a different way of replicating data between sites. Because only subfile level changes to the production backup environment would be replicated, the network bandwidth and latency requirements demanded by modern replication tools would be significantly lowered.

Reliability is a common concern for those considering object-based backup. Protecting an object-based environment against meta data failure and corruption are valid concerns. When object-based backup is used to complement existing backup

software and tape environments, traditional tape-based disaster recovery is a legitimate fall-back strategy.

Object-based backup has the potential to dramatically change the way disk is used in production backup. The technologies are immature, but their potential to streamline disk-based backup should not be underestimated.

Three ways to use object-based backup

This was first published in May 2004

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