The Best Backup? No Backup
Backups are a thing of the past, with cloud solutions that take data protection to higher level.
- By Andres Rodriguez
Backup systems play secondary yet critical roles in data storage: protecting data in case of accidental loss or unexpected hardware failure, and ensuring a smooth data recovery process. Organizations place a great deal of importance on these systems, spending endless dollars and hours on countless pieces of hardware and software that are expensive to purchase and need to be updated on regular cycles.
Despite all the expenditure and effort that goes into backup, data recovery is unreliable due to outdated technologies, slow processes and unintentional user error. IT personnel are required to manage the entire system, adding stress to already tight budgets and taking critical funding away from higher value areas. Most alarming, many IT organizations do not have confidence that their data is sufficiently protected to support a reliable restore process, even after all the spending.
There are no innovations to be made in backup systems that will solve these problems. IT departments looking for a way out have one way forward -- changing their primary storage infrastructure.
Cloud-integrated storage solutions emerged on the market several years ago and have evolved to deliver true SAN and NAS technology. Comprised of an on-premises controller, cloud storage and technology to make it all work together, these solutions are gaining popularity in organizations of all sizes. In addition to replacing primary storage, they provide organizations with superior data protection integrated directly into the primary storage solution.
Rather than relying on separate, complex systems, cloud-based storage solutions use snapshot technology for data protection. Serving the same general purpose as backups, snapshots provide unique advantages for data protection and recovery including:
- Frequent images -- snapshots can be taken as frequently as every sixty seconds
- Unlimited history -- snapshots can be stored forever, or deleted to meet data retention policies
- Multiple copies -- solutions store up to five copies of data in the cloud and guarantee data is in at least two different geographic locations
- Consistent performance -- the snapshot process occurs behind the scenes, invisible to end-users and with no disruption to data access and performance
The snapshot functionality is built in to cloud-integrated storage solutions, which means organizations no longer have to purchase, manage and maintain a separate backup infrastructure. The value of this solution is magnified in large, distributed enterprises where the cost and complexity of traditional backup solutions increases with each additional office.
In addition to data protection, cloud-integrated storage solutions reduce disaster recovery and data restore processes from days to minutes. The data is centrally stored in the cloud, and therefore can be accessed immediately and from any location by connecting a virtual or hardware on-premises controller for disaster recovery. Data restore is in the hands of end users with full access to an unlimited history of previous versions.
A midsized manufacturing company is the perfect example of an enterprise that would benefit from this approach. They have geographically dispersed offices with plants and engineers all over the world and do not have the IT staff to spend on complex backup systems. By implementing cloud-integrated storage in every office, they would be able to provide superior data protection at every location while managing it from one central office. The IT department would be able to set uniform data protection policies and disaster recovery processes across the entire organization. This approach saves them time and money, while increasing confidence among users that their data is protected and available when they need it.
Organizations want better backup solutions for two reasons: Their current solution is too expensive or too unreliable, sometimes both. It's time for IT to get creative and consider eliminating backup solutions altogether. It is ironic but true that eliminating backup solutions actually results in better data protection, reduced costs and more efficient disaster recovery.
Andres Rodriguez is the CEO and founder of Nasuni, a unified storage company that serves the needs of distributed enterprises. Previously he was CTO at Hitachi Data Systems and The New York Times.