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How to Solve Your Information Overload

February 25, 2010

Summary

IT administrators know they need to act now to better manage steadily growing data volumes and reduce data center complexity. Learn how Symantec NetBackup 7 helps them address those challenges.
The sheer volume of information produced by today’s enterprises can be overwhelming.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to change anytime soon.
Over the next four years, IDC estimates that the volume of information will expand by 400%, while IT budgets will expand just 20% and IT staffing 10%.1
That means IT teams will need to do more with the same staffing levels.
At the same time, failure to properly secure and manage information is landing organizations in the news, because halting information flow means halting business. Information outages and data breaches are now headline news. Just ask T-Mobile.
Given these circumstances, it’s imperative that IT teams reach a point where they can confidently secure and manage information every day.
This article looks at a strategy for solving information overload and data protection challenges.

Traditional responses aren’t working

So how do data centers typically handle this explosive information growth? Too often they tend either to overspend or underprotect.
Examples of overspending on less critical assets include:
  • Backing up data that isn’t changing (over and over again)
  • Backing up systems and applications (over and over again)
  • Using multiple point tools that are not integrated adding further complexity to IT operations
  • Keeping less important data on primary storage when it should be archived
  • Using expensive storage for less important applications
  • Having too many redundant backup servers for high-availability purposes
Some organizations, because they lack a clear picture of business requirements, have failed to revisit recovery time and recovery point objectives (RTOs/RPOs). That means they may be underprotected, exposing the business to undue risks. Examples include:
  • Not regularly backing up all data
  • Not using the right technology to back up data
  • Inappropriate RTOs/RPOs and disaster recovery requirements for Tier 1 applications
  • Failure to monitor the impact of operator errors or change
  • Disaster recovery that doesn’t work
Another way organizations have been trying to cope is through server virtualization, in the hope that they can drive down costs through server consolidation. But virtualization, as effective as it is for maximizing server utilization, can create problems for data protection. For example, the proliferation of servers can make backup configuration more time-consuming, increase storage requirements, and add complexity to backups and restores.
The uncomfortable conclusion is that the traditional response of throwing more technology at the problem is no longer effective. If anything, it’s only compounding the problem.
According to the most recent Symantec State of the Data Center Report, IT managers continue to struggle with data center complexity. And it’s getting worse. Half the managers queried expect to make “significant” changes to the data center in 2010 and half find SLAs “more/much more difficult” and costly to meet.

It’s time to improve and simplify information management

Symantec believes that the time for better--and more simplified--information management is now. Without it, storage costs spiral, the return on virtualization is diminished, and information becomes harder to find.
Symantec’s approach is straightforward: Data deduplication everywhere (at the client, the media server, and integration with third-party hardware appliances), complete virtual machine protection, and backup replication for efficient disaster recovery.
  • Deduplication everywhere. With NetBackup 7, Symantec helps organizations reduce overall storage consumption in physical and virtual environments by building data deduplication technology into the backup client and at the media server. By putting deduplication closer to the data source at the client, NetBackup increases the speed and efficiency of backups in remote offices, data centers, and virtual environments and reduces network traffic by up to 90%. NetBackup also integrates with third-party deduplication appliances through the Symantec OpenStorage API. Deep integration means enhanced performance and an end to tape emulation. According to the 2010 State of the Data Center Report, 62% of the survey respondents said deduplication should be both built into backup software and implemented in deduplication appliances.
  • Complete virtual machine protection. NetBackup 7 simplifies virtual server data protection by standardizing backup of Hyper-V and VMware, increasing the backup speed of virtual environments through both deduplication and block-level incremental backup technology. NetBackup 7 delivers instant file recovery from a block-level incremental backup for VMware vSphere environments and easy recovery of an individual file or folder from an image-level backup of a Hyper-V virtual machine. According to the 2010 State of The Data Center Report, IT managers cited granular recovery within virtual machine images as the biggest challenge in virtual machine data protection.
  • Fast, efficient disaster recovery. To ensure that data and applications are protected, Symantec recommends that organizations conduct a business impact analysis of its IT services and then classify them based upon the importance to the business. As a result of this analysis, recovery service levels are established and applications are “tiered” based on their level of importance. Tier 1 applications are those that cannot tolerate downtime or data loss. These mission-critical applications may have an RTO of just a few minutes and an RPO that is close to zero. NetBackup RealTime 7 provides live replication and continuous data protection for Tier 1 applications. The benefits include tape-less disaster recovery, the ability to recover to any point in time, the elimination of backup windows, and near zero RTO/RPO. According to the 2010 State of The Data Center Report, IT managers ranked security, backup and recovery, and continuous data protection as their top initiatives in 2010.
To help organizations centrally manage their heterogeneous data protection environments and provide a single view of their backup and recovery operation, NetBackup 7 includes a built-in reporting and management console called OpsCenter.

Conclusion

IT administrators are making backup and recovery a high priority in 2010, and it’s not hard to see why. They know they need to act now to better manage steadily growing data volumes and reduce data center complexity.
NetBackup 7 can help them address those challenges by protecting both physical and virtual servers with one solution, reducing storage through deduplication, and providing rapid recovery speeds.
To learn more about the NetBackup platform, click here.
1 “The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe,” IDG, 2008.

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