How Data Backup is Changing and Why It Matters

By Christine Taylor

Virtualization leader VMware has made major strides to make backup easier on administrators. Native tools include VMware Consolidated Backup, VMware Data Recovery (VDR), and the new vSphere 5.1 Data Protection (VDP) that it co-developed with EMC. Microsoft Hyper-V also has native backup tools largely based on Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS). However, the larger the virtual network becomes, the more administrators look farther afield for backup and recovery.

Symantec is deeply integrated into the VMware backup market. Its V-Ray technology provides visibility into the VMDK (VMware image) to optimize backup and recovery and NetBackup load-balances across the virtualized environment.

Veeam’s developers architected it to do virtual data protection and virtual only, leaving the physical space to other backup vendors. Its singular focus has enabled it to realize fast growth in SMB and mid-sized environments, and Veeam Backup & Replication 7 just added enterprise scalability. CommVault backs up and archives VMs using Simpana 10 with VM Archiving.

Other virtualized backup makers include Unitrends and IBM: Unitrends Enterprise Backup unifies physical and virtual backup in virtual environments and IBM is in the game with Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtualized Environments. EMC works closely with VMware to develop virtualized backup solutions, and Symantec also offer backup and recovery for physical servers and VMs.

Edge Protection

Edge backup and recovery refers to backing up from desktops, laptops and mobile devices. Desktop and laptop backup was a corporate nice-to-have in the past but with increasing mobile use and ROBO deployments, corporations are turning to the cloud and to edge backup solutions for help.

Two companies are particularly well-known in the edge protection field: CommVault and Druva. CommVault Edge protects data on user computers and mobile devices and offers automatic device discovery and IT central management. Druva inSync pioneered continuous data protection for laptops. It protects these and other mobile devices on-premise and in the cloud and is extending value with file sharing.

Data Copy-Less

Most backup procedures, even ones using snapshot or replication, are based on creating copies of data. Actifio has a different approach: a virtual repository containing globally de-duplicated object file system stores. Actifio provides virtual point-in-time copies from a single repository for use in multiple processes and targets, such as data restore or test-dev environments. The result is sharply diminished need for storage capacity. Incremental-forever backup does not require a backup window

Looking Forward

I truly wish that I could recommend one or two backup applications that do it all: large and small environments, virtual and physical, on-premise and cloud, back office data and big data. But no one application does it all, even the ones bearing the “unified” label.

You first have to understand your compute infrastructure, data protection service levels, and your environment – physical, virtual, cloud, big data. Once you really understand your environment’s needs then you can communicate those needs to vendors. A single unified backup product can be a good choice for simpler environments, while complex environments should be open to purchasing from point vendors to suit critical needs.  Look to integration between your backup vendors, which is happening more often in response to customer requests.

I don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that companies are experiencing incredibly fast rates of data growth. New backup technologies are here today to help you protect this data in all of its incarnations. Take advantage of the best solutions for your environment the way it is today – not the way it used to be.

Christine Taylor is a well-known technology writer who has worked in the storage industry for many years.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on January 08, 2014

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