Reseller News

Backup now – for the future

Over the past several years, backup strategies have matured, converged, and centralised. Companies are aware of the need, and willing to implement protection. However, implementation needs to be efficient; the backup strategy needs to be targeted to the company, its data, and its line of business; and the media needs to be secure. Strategies such as storage networks and hierarchical data storage have migrated down from the enterprise, and the myriad of disk mirroring and virtual server solutions have created almost limitless possibilities for moulding a backup solution to ensure business continuity at an acceptable price. For the reseller, understanding this market and customer’s requirements is crucial. Customers are seeking guidance, and need to find the best possible solution for their business. The key to this market is keeping abreast of the growing range of technology aimed at the business continuity sector. For every customer, there is an optimal solution. “Symantec offers data protection to the SME market through to large enterprise customers,” says systems engineering manager, Paul Lancaster. “We have proven data protection technologies, and have been a leader in protecting heterogeneous environments for more than 20 years.” Backup Exec is Symantec’s flagship product for small and mid-sized businesses. Veritas Netbackup Puredisk Remote Office Edition offers storage and bandwidth optimised data protection for remote offices. For enterprise-level users, Symantec has introduced key advances into Netbackup 6.0 and has a comprehensive upgrade process aligned with tools to ensure customers plan properly. Netbackup is designed to aid in compliance, performance and data centralisation. “Crucial to Symantec's backup solutions is the ability to deploy, manage, secure and protect our customers' critical data,” says Lancaster. “The centralised, managed protection of data is essential, combined with reducing storage requirements for disk backups using low bandwidth data synchronisation over a WAN [wide area network]. The range of available options for users includes the ability to restore their own data via our Puredisk product right through to being able to rebuild their environment through our Backup Exec system recovery product. These solutions are growing as businesses move away from tape to disk-based backups.” As data or remote offices grow, customers can dynamically add storage to their environment, and Symantec’s Puredisk product can be used to automatically redistribute content to improve load balancing and performance. Reducing tape media, storage, and network resources makes it possible to enforce enterprise data management and compliance policies. “Tape is entrenched with most enterprise customers, but adoption of disk-based solutions is strong,” says Lancaster. “Enterprises will shift more of their backups to disk but tape will remain a part of the majority of enterprises data protection strategies for the future.” Robust email essential for data protection Symantec has just completed an SME roadshow on email management, protection and security. The presentation focused on avoiding risk, strategy and leveraging the benefits of a healthy, robust email system. “Resellers have the ability to highlight the customers' requirements and need for effective data protection technology in the remote office,” says Lancaster. “Another key area is data duplication technology, which reduces disk capacity required for backup and uses bandwidth more efficiently for remote sites. There is also an ever increasing opportunity to simplify the disaster recovery and the long-term management of backup data.” Quantum offers a number of backup and recovery solutions that range from $400 tape drives to a floor-standing enterprise tape libraries and a broad range of backup to disk solutions. “In the New Zealand market, our key volume sales come from autoloaders, and rack-mounted tape libraries, along with one to 10 terabyte virtual tape libraries,” says country manager, Craig Tamlin. “Backup is being driven by massively expanding data volumes (in excess of 50 percent per annum for typical clients); mass adoption of SANs (the more disk you have the more you fill it – then you have to back it up), and, to a point, all the attention given to regulatory compliance. People are more aware now than before of data retention and recovery requirements,” Tamlin says. Quantum's most notable recent advance is the release of de-duplication technology. This offers the potential for sites to retain weeks of backup copies on disk, with many recovery points. On a terabyte disk array, clients can store 10 to 20 – sometimes, even 50 terabytes of backup, depending on how it is used. “Tape's low cost of storage will ensure it stays forever,” says Tamlin, “but its role is slowly changing as new, better and more cost-effective backup to disk solutions appear – such as de-duplication. Tape will play more of an archival role in the future.” Ask customers the backup question For the reseller, Tamlin suggests a targeted approach. “Ask the backup question. When the client says ‘Oh, I've got an old tape backup unit,’ respond ‘OK, but will it cope with your new backup workload? Let me help you to size the right solution.’ Then call us.” “Backup solutions are becoming more cost effective and are quicker,” says Adaptec country manager Demetri Christodoulou. “Disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) provides near-line storage and offline backup as well. “Backup for workstations and laptops systems is getting more important and critical, because they contain important business data but are often neglected in the backup plan. Easy to use software like Snap Storeassure offers automatic and continuous data backup for desktops and laptops back to the main data storage system online, without affecting the workstation’s performance.” On the enterprise side Christodoulou has seen an increase in enterprises integrating NAS into their existing network, because it offers easier implementation and management at a lower price point compared to SAN products. “Tape is still strong in archiving but we are seeing a lot more pick up on disk,” he says. “More are using D2D2T solutions that provide shorter backup time and use tape for archiving purpose. This is also driven by the cost decline per gigabyte of SATA disk.” Resellers should sell more backup solutions and educate clients on proper backup solutions that are suitable to the clients’ business. “More evangelism on the importance of backup is also needed,“ says Christodoulou. More users now sit on terabytes of data “Backup solutions are great, but when the crunch comes it’s recovery that is important to customers,” says CA senior consultant, Cory Grant. CA provides recovery management solutions for small to medium and enterprise businesses. “We cover from traditional tape-based recovery to newer technology around D2D2T with our CA Arcserve products and now with CA Xosoft true continuous data protection (CDP),” says Grant. “We are and have been seeing a definite shift in the marketplace from managing backup to recovery management, as the data protection needs of business today far exceed what traditional backup and restore systems can provide. In particular, these traditional systems can't fulfil escalating requirements for recovery and continuity – requirements that are being driven by many factors including the increasing cost of downtime, disaster response failures, the growing importance of information to the business, and the increasingly distributed nature of IT operations.” New Zealand’s storage market is maturing, and CA is seeing more and more clients with terabytes of disk sitting in the data centre. Enterprises want to make efficient use of the disk they have and make sure it is easy to backup and recover the vast amounts of storage that exist. Customers are still buying more disks than ever, and they are increasingly moving to 24-hour-day operations. This makes it important to provide a recovery management solution that does not impact day to day operations but still protects these large amounts of data. “Tape is still our best and most efficient method of long-term archive,” says Grant. “However restorations on a regular basis should be from high-speed, low-cost disk arrays, or even better from the CA Xosoft GUI which has more roll-back points. If you know companies that are relying on tape-based recovery only, you should be talking to them now about moving up to a more mature offering and using tape as the last resort.” Resellers should also be asking their customers if they know where their data is, says Grant. "It is probably on a laptop or on a server; but more and more data can now be found on USB keys, iPods, phones and so forth. Now ask the second question: ‘Is it protected?’." One alternative to standard backup is to outsource, if infrastructure requirements get too complex. Revera (formerly HdS) provides just such a service. "The case for outsourcing backup is irresistible," says marketing manager Roger Cockayne. "IP bandwidth is sufficiently cheap and backup and restore applications have improved, particularly in compressing data and putting data owners in control of their data. Practical and economic barriers to accessing tier one backup infrastructure have all but disappeared. There's simply no good reason for companies to invest in their own backup infrastructure – working it is painful and expensive. Just because backup is business critical doesn¹t mean you can¹t let it go. Most businesses cannot achieve the robustness or cost efficiency of an independent computing infrastructure provider," Cockayne says. Revera has just been appointed as New Zealand distributor for data backup software provider Attix5. Cockayne claims the combination of Attix5 backup software and Revera's Virtual Data Centre computing infrastructure platform will provide an “industrial-strength” service at an SME price.