By Heidi Biggar
A recent InfoStor reader survey reveals continued strong interest in disk-to-disk (D2D) and disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) backup technologies. Nearly half of the survey respondents said they had already implemented a "tiered" backup infrastructure, while 20% said they planned to do so within the next 6 to 12 months (see figure).
"Tiered backup" is loosely defined as any backup infrastructure consisting of multiple storage levels or platforms. This type of infrastructure, when supported by policy engines, allows data to be transparently moved among disk and tape resources (e.g., D2D or D2D2T), according to user-specified requirements for access, retrieval, and retention.
While the strength of the disk-based backup market is largely attributable to the increasing popularity of Serial ATA disk subsystems, analysts say it also reflects a fundamental shift in the way users view backup and, more importantly, recovery.
According to the InfoStor reader survey, while interest in disk-based backup technologies has picked up since last year, the clear majority of users (85%) still see disk-based backup as an evolving technology. In fact, 51% of the respondents said they rely primarily on tape and traditional backup software, although they said they will experiment with new technologies for certain applications.
The reality is that whether you are talking about disk or tape backup, users are still looking to address some very basic backup issues. They still struggle with making sure that their data is being backed up properly (that is, making sure that the data they think they are backing up is actually being backed up) and that it is recoverable.
While 53% of the respondents in the survey said they intended to focus on data recovery in the coming year, 63% said that making sure that backups were done properly and tested regularly was their biggest "pain point." As for other issues, 47% cited problems with backup speed, and 32% said manual labor and other associated backup costs were problematic.
These findings compare to results of an InfoStor survey conducted about a year ago, in which users listed backup speed (78%), capacity (77%), reliability (76%), and recovery speed (66%) as the top four factors influencing their backup purchasing decisions. Other factors included ease of use (48%), TCO/ROI (31%), company reputation and/or brand name (30%), investment protection (25%), space issues (21%), and media removability (14%).
Fifty-six percent of respondents to that earlier survey said that they planned to purchase more tape in the ensuing year, while 52% said they planned to purchase disk-based backup products over tape. Forty-two percent said they planned to purchase disk instead of tape. This compares to 44% (an increase of just 2% over the previous survey) of users in the recent survey who said they planned to purchase more disk instead of tape, and 18% who said they actually planned to decrease the overall dollar amount spent on tape systems and media this year.
These findings may reflect ongoing budgetary constraints among users. Nearly 90% of respondents in the recent survey said that they have about the same amount of dollars (77%) or significantly fewer (10%) dollars to spend on storage-related products and services this year, while 13% reported significantly higher storage budgets for the coming year.
Eighty-two percent of the respondents had an estimated annual storage budget of $1 million or less, while 18% had storage budgets in excess of $1 million.
Of the respondents who said they had implemented some type of D2D or D2D2T technology, 32% reported better backup speeds, 30% cited improved data recoverability, 19% said it helped consolidate their backup environments, and 13% cited cost savings as a result of their investments.
Network-attached storage (NAS) and ATA/SATA-based disk arrays were the most commonly implemented disk-based backup technologies with 19% and 16%, respectively, of respondents listing them as components of their backup infrastructures. Thirteen percent said they have used virtual tape software systems; 39% reported using some type of snapshot, mirroring, or replication software; and 17% said they had invested in specialized data-protection/recovery software.
On the tape front, 72% of respondents said their backup included some type of tape system (libraries, autoloaders, drives) while 58% said they used traditional backup software (e.g., NetBackup, NetWorker, ARCserve, etc.).
Among the D2D and D2D2T adopters, the majority are using traditional backup software products from vendors such as Veritas (16%), Hewlett-Packard (13%), Computer Associates (10%), IBM/Tivoli (10%), and Legato (4%).
Technology aside, the decision about which disk-based backup products to buy and from whom may depend on user confidence in start-up companies. According to the survey, 45% of respondents said they will consider buying from start-ups, but that they prefer to buy from established vendors.
Number of respondents: 269
Type of respondents
End users: 77%
Company size (number of employees)
Less than 250: 40%
1,000 to 9,999: 22%
10,000 or more: 23%
Annual budget for storage products/services
0 to $499,999: 67%
$500,000 to $1 million: 16%
$1 million to $4.9 million: 12%
$5 million or more: 5%
Source: InfoStor backup survey