How integrated backup appliances are winning hearts and minds
Massive data growth is putting pressure on IT staff as they struggle to not only protect important applications, systems, and data, but recover it according to expectations or SLAs. Given that many companies have as many as seven different backup products in their environments, both protecting the data reliably and ensuring successful recovery is difficult & costly. Building, running, and managing the infrastructure required for multiple backup and DR solutions is increasingly complex and expensive, especially in larger multi-site environments. As a result, customers are looking at ways to reduce both operational complexity and cost by asking themselves how much of their backup infrastructure they want to build vs.buy. Integrated backup appliances offer an evolution from traditional storage appliances by providing a turnkey solution to quickly deploy a proven solution.
Data protection is, of course, all about recovering your data in the event of an accident, corruption to a system, or a natural disaster. However, the levels of protection each organization uses will not be the same, but rather vary according to a ‘right for me’ approach. To address these organizational needs, many business leaders are asking their IT teams to deliver Backup-as-a-Service (or Recovery-as-a-Service) to ensure predictable SLAs and costs. IT teams face the challenge of deciding how to build and deploy this type of capability (internal/private cloud, hybrid, or external/managed service) and for what tiers of data and systems.
The exponential growth of data over the last eight years has been a key driver in both storage innovation and price reductions. Though backup teams may adopt new storage technologies more slowly, they continue to shift where they store data moving from tape, to virtual tape libraries (VTLs) to deduplication storage appliances and increasingly to private/public cloud storage (for long term retention). Deduplication storage appliances gave backup and storage teams a taste for the power of an appliance. They are purpose-built system that compress & store valuable backup data and enable more efficient replication which helps customers to better meet recovery and DR needs and to reduce their reliance on tape.
Deduplication storage technology has evolved beyond the storage appliance and moved up stream closer to the source to deliver additional benefits to both storage and backup teams. And like deduplication, backup storage appliances have evolved into integrated backup appliances which include both the backup application and storage integrated into one form factor. These solutions are purpose-built for the backup & recovery workloads with preconfigured hardware, interfaces and software. These appliances address not only storage needs, but broader operational challenges. In an environment where more and more organizations operate globally, with multiple data centers, integrated appliances allow customers to deliver a more consistent backup and recovery service and to realize value from their infrastructure investments more quickly.
No longer do IT departments have to perform the role of systems integrator. Instead they can concentrate on ensuring the business is properly protected and that service levels are more about quality and delivery, rather than simply infrastructure focused. In fact, a true integrated backup appliance solution brings all of the capabilities that a central backup platform can offer, adds in additional value-add features (e.g., WAN Optimization), and then delivers it to the customer in a consistent manner. What would be the major gains an organization would instantly be aware of? Speed of implementation would certainly be one. Rather than having to go through a complex and lengthy process of procuring hardware, memory and storage, an integrated backup appliance solution arrives, in dock, you turn it on and it’s up and running in an hour. You simply ‘put it in and go’.
The customer support experience also improves with integrated appliances for two reasons. First, there is one, single relationship for backup with an integrated appliance, which means faster remediation when you need anything investigated or fixed. Second, our appliances feature AutoSupport capabilities which means that Symantec can monitor your backup appliance(s) and alert you to any impending hardware issues (such as your disk almost being full). Symantec will open support tickets and dispatch parts or a technician on behalf of the customer bringing the benefits of pro-active support to our customers. Contrast this with a build-your-own approach that could require help from multiple vendors, including Symantec.
The adoption of new operational approaches and technology in the enterprise requires licensing and deployment flexibility. The lifecycle of hardware and software –both upgrades and purchases - varies for each enterprise customer. This is why our enterprise backup appliances separate software and hardware licensing. Existing customers can easily upgrade hardware to an appliance. Or new customers can simply buy one more line item for the software (i.e., the capacity based license for NetBackup) to get both hardware and software. This equals investment protection for customers because future hardware upgrades simply require new hardware (as opposed to hardware and software). Deployment flexibility today comes with the ability to interchange traditional software deployments with our integrated appliances.
Ultimately, at the heart of our integrated backup appliance strategy lies something of immense benefit – the means to take a broad and important activity called backup & recovery (or data protection) and build in additional value by reducing complexity and increasing reliability. It’s a holistic approach that considers the end-to-end jobs our customers face when protecting data. The integrated backup appliance allows organization to realize value more quickly and deliver a great deal more than they could have done by simply building a new backup or DR infrastructure – and all with investment protection at your fingertips.