Value-based data protection

There's no skimping when it comes to data protection, but tight budgets mean that storage managers will be looking for solid value in their backup products.

There's no skimping when it comes to data protection, but tight budgets mean that storage managers will be looking for solid value in their backup products.

By Rachel Kanner

As the economy slows, efficient data protection has become an even greater concern for companies. But as storage managers focus on doing more with less, finding the right data protection solution has never been more challenging.

Marty Ward, senior director of product marketing, Data Protection Group at Symantec Corp., said finding appropriate data protection has become more urgent for two reasons: a general focus on saving money and companies no longer have the budget to hire more people.

In the past few years, storage vendors have expanded their data protection portfolios. For example, Symantec built Veritas NetBackup to bundle features, including data backup, replication, virtual tape libraries (VTLs) and space-saving snapshots, into one data protection product. "We created interfaces into all of these different data protection technologies, whether they come from us or others, so you can have one management platform to manage it all," Symantec's Ward said.

According to Peter Eicher, manager of product marketing at FalconStor Software Inc., users are interested in the company's new MicroScan data replication technology, which Eicher said uses a different approach than other data replication tools. MicroScan scans important data and identifies the new data to replicate, rather than scanning it all, which frees up more storage space.

After facing disasters such as water damage, and ready for an upgrade, John Michaels, chief technology officer at Maxim Group LLC in New York City, chose MicroScan with block-level, delta-based replication because of its cost effectiveness. "There's a whole other value in the system that I didn't realize when I bought it," he said. "I was only able to back up seven servers because of monetary reasons, but what I realized was that I had some pretty powerful servers that were being underutilized. Now I'm protecting over 20 virtual servers."

Technologies like virtualization provide specific challenges. With the quick adoption of server virtualization over the past few years, it has become more common to put mission-critical applications on VMware; however, this requires a different set of data protection solutions. For Michaels, the FalconStor product helped him to protect both virtual and physical servers. Users are also finding niche solutions and deciding how they can manage their virtual environment differently than their physical environment. That's where FalconStor also comes in. "Their single data protection solution will manage all of your virtual and physical environments," Michaels said.

When it comes to buying data protection software, the same people are still buying, but now they're trying to buy smarter. Eric Burgener, senior analyst and consultant at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, offered some advice for those trying to save money. "It's surprising how much data sits in storage without being accessed again, but continues to be backed up every time data is backed up," he said. "If you can identify the 70% to 80% of information that needs to be backed up and move it onto a less-expensive but slower storage device, reductions will be huge. Secondary platforms don't perform as fast, but [they] are designed to store lots of data very cost effectively."

BIO: Rachel Kanner is a former assistant editor at SearchStorage.com.

This was first published in April 2009

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