2D or not 2D: That is no longer the question

There seems to be little doubt that disk-to-disk (D2D) backup/recovery is the hottest trend in the storage industry today. According to our reader surveys, as well as a soon-to-be-released report from TheInfoPro (TIP) research firm, D2D backup consistently places in the top-two technologies among end users.

For example, in an ongoing TIP survey on storage management technologies, disk-based backup is currently in the top-five technologies (and will probably wind up at number one) as rated by TIP's "Technology Heat Index," which ranks technologies based on users' near-term spending plans.

You can also get a feel for how hot D2D backup is by looking at end-user interest in closely related technologies, such as Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives, which are shaping up as the preferred medium for secondary storage. For example, in a TIP survey on storage networking, SATA was number one on the Technology Heat Index (followed by IP SANs).

For more information on the TIP studies, see "Survey reveals users' storage priorities" on the cover of this issue.

Although D2D may seem to be a no-brainer given the drawbacks to traditional tape-based backup/recovery, there are many ways to skin the cat. Diogenes Analytical Laboratories' Phil Goodwin categorizes the various approaches as appliances, disk libraries, and virtual tape in "Disk-to-disk-to-tape backup alternatives," p. 26. It's important to note, however, that Phil concludes that no one approach is necessarily any better than another: It just depends on your requirements and existing infrastructure.

(Ok. That calls for a sidetrack. "What's with the name of that consulting firm?" you might ask. Diogenes is a new company that is focused on IT-side consulting as well as vendor-neutral product evaluation services. For those of you that aren't up-to-speed on your Greek philosophers: Diogenes was a 4th century B.C. philosopher who adhered to the "cynic" school of thought. The story of Diogenes is often associated with his search through Grecian streets and alleyways carrying a lantern and "looking for an honest man.")

Back to disk-based backup: Despite all the interest in D2D, tape is still king, as evidenced in a recent end-user survey by Coughlin Associates and Peripheral Concepts (see "Backup/archiving survey: Tape still dominates," p. 32). That is why politically correct observers often refer to it as D2D2T.

What's surprising in all of the surveys is how many IT organizations are already doing D2D backup/recovery, which is a relatively new technology. For example, in the survey by Coughlin Associates and Peripheral Concepts, 32% of the respondents said they were using disk arrays as backup devices. And in the TIP study, about 40% of the surveyed companies said they are using disk-to-disk backup. (InfoStor's reader surveys show similar results.) At that rate of adoption it's safe to assume that D2D may continue to be the hottest storage technology in 2005.

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Dave Simpson

This article was originally published on November 01, 2004