Strategic Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Initiatives Face New Headwinds from Age-old Tactical Backup Concerns
Business continuity and disaster recovery have been "top" priorities for many enterprises going back at least a decade. However it is difficult to keep these strategic objectives at the "top" of the priority list when they encounter operational headwinds brought on by age-old tactical backup concerns such as increasing backup capacities and performance. Tackling these complementary but often conflicting priorities requires the implementation of a solution that delivers on both of these objectives.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery 'Top' Enterprise Priorities
Business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) have been top priorities in large enterprises for at least a decade. This is evidenced by my time at First Data Corporation as a storage engineer going back ten years ago. At that time, First Data already had a team in place whose sole responsibility was to document potential disaster scenarios, put together plans to recover from them and then regularly test them.
The motivation behind this was two-fold. Part of it was just good business practice. First Data handles a large percentage of the world's credit card transactions for many of the world's largest merchants so being offline for any period of time is not an option.
The other aspect was its clients wanted to do business with a company that could quickly recover in the event of a disaster. By First Data putting in place a business continuity plan and regularly testing it, it became a competitive advantage.
Reasons like these have contributed to BC and DR remaining at the top of enterprise priority lists. A 2010 survey of 1,575 enterprise budget decision makers by Forrester Research found that over 60% of them deemed "significantly upgrading disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities" a 'top' priority.
Tactical Issues Taking Enterprise Eye off of Strategic Objectives
It is one thing to make BC and DR top priorities. It is quite another thing to execute on them. While admittedly more enterprises are implementing and executing on these initiatives than in the past, the evidence also suggests that day-to-day tactical issues are keeping enterprises from fully achieving these more strategic business objectives.
On the positive side, a recent survey of large enterprises done by Sepaton found that 41% now use an Active-Passive DR strategy (production site is "hot", remote site is in a "standby" state") while another 21% use an Active-Active DR strategy (both production and remote sites are "hot.") Further, 47% of enterprises surveyed now replicate more than 50% of their data to remote location.
The disconcerting result in this survey is how many of these same large enterprises listed the following tactical tasks as their Top 3 IT priorities for 2012/2013.
- Over 80% listed "increasing backup performance" and "increasing backup capacity"
- 75% listed "improving and/or tuning backup efficiency"
- 60% listed "improving deduplication efficiency"
These enterprises described these issues as either "critical" or "moderate" which raises an important question, "Why are tactical concerns overshadowing more strategic BC and DR initiatives?"
Source: 2012 Sepaton Data Protection Index Survey Report
These tactical issues are certainly important and should not be ignored as they are foundational to executing on BC and DR initiatives. However if BC/DR initiatives are to remain top IT priorities, enterprises must implement solutions that either automate or simplify these underlying operational tasks.
Only by solving these first will more strategic issues such as "Adding remote replication for DR," "Protecting Big Data more efficiently" and "Improving remote office data protection" move up in the list of priorities in future Sepaton Data Protection Index Survey Reports.
Tactical Backup Needs... Strategic Objectives... One Backup Solution
The key to achieving these conflicting objectives is to use one backup solution that affords them the flexibility to deliver on these complementary but often competing priorities. On the tactical side, it must facilitate ongoing increases in backup capacity and performance with minimal or no increases in the workload required to perform these tasks.
Further, it must also improve on commonly used methods of backup and deduplication by making them more efficient in two ways.
- On the backup side, the system should first facilitate the dynamic addition of more hardware resources to a single logical system such that it backs up, stores and moves the increasing amounts of data that enterprises possess and then automate load balancing across the resources available in the system.
- To then most efficiently deduplicate that data, the system should identify and deduplicate it at the byte level regardless of which application sends the data to the system or the format in which the application sends the data to be stored.
It is by first deploying a solution that makes backup more efficient and easier to manage that enterprises may then confidently take on the strategic initiatives such as they list in this survey as they do not need to worry about tactical issues resurfacing later when they may have neither the time nor the budget to address them.
Sepaton S2100 Delivers All-in-One Enterprise Backup Solution
The Sepaton S2100 delivers this all-in-one backup solution that addresses the immediate tactical concerns that enterprises possess today. Using the Sepaton S2100, enterprises may, on an "as-needed" basis, incrementally add or upgrade capacity, performance or both with minimal or no management overhead as it remains a single logical system.
Organizations improve their backup and deduplication efficiency even as they add more capacity or performance to the Sepaton S2100 in the following two ways.
- It maintains backup efficiency by automatically balancing existing data across newly added capacity or workloads across newly available CPUs and memory. In this way, organizations can backup and store more data and do so more quickly without having to spend more time and effort managing their backup processes.
- It maintains deduplication efficiency with its ContentAware™ deduplication. This works outside the backup stream and performs a "triage" process on the stored data by examining a subset of data and looking for duplicates at the byte level within it. This technique ensures backups complete unimpeded, minimizes hash table sizes, and that data is deduplicated at the most granular possible.
Further, due to Sepaton's integration with multiple databases and backup products, it can even deduplicate data within multi-streamed, multiplexed Oracle backups or incremental Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) backups that backs up data in sub-8K segments that are too small to be deduplicated by many hash-based deduplication algorithms.
However the Sepaton S2100 does more than solve the tactical backup scaling issues that enterprises face and position them to take on their strategic objectives. It includes the technologies that they also need to remotely replicate their data to other sites as well as frees them to put together strategies to better protect remote office data and Big Data in their data centers as they have a solution that can scale to meet the demands of these projects.
Chart New Backup and Recovery Course with Sepaton S2100
Sepaton's 2012 Data Protection Index survey results revealed the tactical backup concerns that many organizations may have thought they addressed through the adoption of disk and deduplication are re-emerging only this time in the form of management overhead and trying to scale existing solutions. These are creating unexpected new headwinds as organizations try to forge ahead with their more strategic BC and DR initiatives.
The Sepaton 2100 provides this all-in-one solution that enterprises need to overcome these strengthening headwinds. By providing the features that they need to address their immediate tactical backup and recovery concerns as well as the new features that they need, enterprises may now lay out the new course for business continuity and disaster recovery that they are looking to achieve.