In our earlier Buying Guide for Purpose Built Backup Appliances (PBBAs), we covered the state of the market and the leaders in this space.

“PBBAs are a great way for organizations to streamline, remove complexity and reduce the cost involved in protecting data,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst at StorageIO Group. “They should be thought of as hyper-converged data protection appliances as they provide similar benefits of convergence without the hype. The PBBA should work for you instead of you going to work for it.”

Here are some key tips on how to make PBBAs work for you.

1. Plan for the Future
It may seem obvious, but so often organizations don’t plan for the future where data protection is concerned. Think about how your data protection needs are going to evolve over the next three to five years. Will you have more applications? More remote offices? More data? Are your IT staff and budgets going to keep pace with data growth?

“We have to get smarter about consolidating our data center activities, especially where data protection is concerned,” said Andrew Dickerson, senior manager, storage product marketing at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Look at how you are going to meet your restore SLAs given your current data growth.”

2. Control Costs with a Single Technology
Once upon a time, there were appliances that did only deduplication. Then they incorporated backup, disaster recovery (DR), WAN optimization and more. These days, there is no point in buying an appliance to fulfill only one or two of these functions.

“Having a single technology solution that is compatible across the enterprise and compatible with your chosen backup applications should save a significant amount of capital expenditure and operational expenditure through reduced backup management, lower maintenance costs, reduced data center floor space and cooling as well as reducing your network bandwidth” said Dickerson. “Automate as much as possible, including data in any remote sites that you have.”

3. Quote for the Future
Too often, a vendor quote will work for today but not necessarily in a few months’ time, when you may have to buy more primary storage. So incorporate perceived future needs into your request for quote. That way, you can see how each approach addresses rampant storage costs and how high the cost of adding capacity might escalate.

“When you get quotes from your vendors, ensure you know what data growth your chosen vendor has allowed for in their quote,” said Dickerson.

4. Look for Flexibility
Levi Norman, director of product marketing, IBM Systems, enterprise storage, stresses flexibility as the IT industry and requirements can change rapidly. Too many organizations have failed to grasp new trends such as virtualization, DevOps or flash, and they have ended up with new infrastructures that are labeled “legacy” within six months.

“Users must be able to respond to changes and requirements quickly and with manageable solutions,” said Norman. “Often a PBBA is the fastest deployment method in a back-up environment. Enterprises should take the time to plan for the future, look at open APIs like File System support to prevent lock-in to any specific vendor.”

5. Reduce Backup Siloes
It is a reality of modern IT environments that people like to implement their own technologies and choose their own platforms. But this can cause problems and add costs.

“Are your DBAs and VMware admins deploying their own backup appliances, creating silos in your environment?” asked Caitlin Gordon, director of data protection product marketing, EMC. “Find a way that you can consolidate to reduce costs while still enabling admins to protect their environments natively.”