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Survey: Broken Backup Environments Need New Approach

Created: 26 Jan 2012 • Updated: 22 Jan 2013
SeanRegan's picture
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Backups have become a big and burdensome operation for many backup admins. SLAs are getting tighter while information grows and new platforms like virtualization create higher density environments. With these forces in play the current approach to backup modernization is not effective. Today “backup modernization” is championed by vendors who champion solutions that address one or two aspects of backup – such as deduplication, snapshots, or tools for backing up just VMware and Hyper-V environments.  These are quick fixes, not modern data protection. Throwing more solutions at a problem as a quick fix is the cause of backup complexity and cost.

Backup and recovery is a crucial step in protecting an organization’s information and its ability to stay in business if something goes wrong.   A new approach is needed. To determine current trends, Symantec commissioned a global survey of enterprises to get a pulse on their perspective and thoughts around backup and recovery initiatives. It’s no surprise that we found a correlation between the number of backup solutions a company has and their confidence in their ability to recover.

The results showed that, while the purpose of backup is to give peace of mind, the opposite is occurring. In fact, only about a quarter of enterprises are completely confident in their ability to recover all their backed-up data. This lack of confidence is especially apparent in VMware and Hyper-V backups, which ranked near the bottom of a list of successful IT initiatives.

Another backup challenge involves SLAs. A surprising one-third of the respondents reported they either were not meeting backup and recovery SLAs, or they were unsure whether they were. Half of those who couldn’t meet SLAs cited too much data as the reason. Quite simply, the backup window has been broken. Further complicating matters is the movement of virtualization from test and dev to mission critical apps. What was effective as backup in test and dev VM labs isn’t effective for mission critical apps in the data center.  Nearly two-thirds reported that SLAs were either more or less stringent than they are for physical environments indicating the difference between early-stage VM environments and more mature environments.

When we asked about challenges in maintaining adequate backups, we found that backup and recovery is too time consuming. It’s such a problem that 72 percent of respondents would change vendors if they could double their backup speed. In addition to the time it takes, the complexity of backups is a problem too.  According to the survey, 28 percent of organizations have too many backup tools to manage.   Organizations average four backup solutions to protect physical systems, and three for virtual.

All these findings mean that a change is coming. Within the next 12 months tape-based backups will decrease by a third, and we anticipate those organizations will be investigating appliance and cloud-based backup solutions.

Better Backup

This is the ideal time for businesses to take advantage of emerging trends in technology. Virtualization reduces server costs and offers opportunities for IT to increase flexibility. We recommend taking four steps to improve your ability to backup and restore vital information.

  • Unite physical and virtual backups. Using a single solution for both environments will drive down your operating cost, reduce your storage and accelerate your recoveries.
  • Consolidate backup and recovery tools in a single appliance.  Integrating backup, dedupe, and storage in a single solution will drive down operating cost and capital expense while simplifying day-to-day operations in the data center and remote offices.
  • Fight infinite retention. Backups are for recovery, not long-term data retention. Take advantage of new technology that helps to identify what backup information is important for legal or compliance purposes and what can be deleted.
  • Stop putting tapes on trucks. Combine deduplication with disaster recovery to transmit data over the network from the production site to the DR site instead of loading tapes onto trucks.

While many vendors talk about modernizing backup, none of them have put it into a single platform – except Symantec. Stay tuned to learn more about how Symantec plans to drive up to 80 percent of the operating cost and complexity out of backup over the next five years.