Backup is getting exciting, really

For years—decades, actually—backup has been one of the most boring topics in the storage industry. And storage administrators have looked forward to backing up the same way they look forward to root canals without anesthesia. Not to mention the fact that, despite all the time and money spent on backups, they often fail.

That’s changing. Backup and recovery-and data protection in general-is becoming exciting due to some relatively new technologies and “solutions.” The excitement stems from the fact that these technologies can solve some of the ancient problems associated with backup-most notably, shrinking backup windows and excruciatingly slow backup/restore times, failures, the inability to meet RTO and RPO goals, and the newer bugaboo of how to monitor (or even do) backup at remote locations.

In general, I’m talking about disk-to-disk backup/recovery, but that’s already old school. What I’m really talking about are newer technologies such as virtual tape libraries (VTLs), data de-duplication and content optimized storage (COS), wide area data services (WDS) and wide area file services (WAFS), continuous data protection (CDP), what the Taneja Group consulting firm calls continuous data technologies (CDT), and many more emerging data-protection schemes.

Although most of those technologies are still in the very early phases of end-user adoption, the Taneja Group has actually taken a stab at sizing the potential markets for these “next-generation data-protection” technologies. If you’re into market forecasts, see “NGDP: CDT, WDS, VTL, COS,” p. 30, by senior editor Kevin Komiega.

Of the various technologies, the one that is farthest along in terms of end-user adoption-and the one that end users are most interested in, according to our reader surveys-is VTLs. And we have a lot of coverage on VTLs, as well as some of the other emerging technologies, in this issue.

In addition to providing market forecasts for the general disk-based data-protection market, our Special Report (“Disk-based data protection: Trends and forecasts,” p. 26, by Forrester Research’s Stephanie Balaouras) focuses on CDP and VTLs.

Also on the virtual tape front, “VTLs and Symantec’s OpenStorage API”. dispels erroneous conjecture about the effects that Symantec’s programming interface might have on the VTL market. It was written by Heidi Biggar, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group, which recently completed an extensive end-user survey on VTLs.

And in our monthly Reader-Expert I/O column, Cambridge Computer consultant Noemi Greyzdorf answers a question from one of our readers: “My backups are slow and unreliable. I’ve heard that putting in disk, in the form of a VTL, will solve my problems. Are there any ‘gotchas’ to watch out for?”

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Dave Simpson,

This article was originally published on February 01, 2007