Choosing the Right Backup Strategy for Enterprise Data

By CIOReview | Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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Instant availability of information is critical for any business. In order to achieve this, enterprises are constantly striving to implement the best possible strategy for backing up their data. Different businesses require different backup strategies—a company running back office operations could probably manage with a single server, while another producing software, would require a minimum of three different servers for development, testing and production. The choice of strategies is solely based on the ease with which availability of data can be ensured, without excessively burdening the cost center. While there are different solutions available, the one chosen must meet the core objectives of the company that are sought to be achieved through a backup strategy. Needless to say, this involves a variety of parameters like factoring the cost, feasibility, and reliability.

Integrated Backup Solutions

Over the years, backup software has evolved from being one that merely copies data from a source to a destination, to one that guards the data and the environment containing it, from all odds. The market has no dearth of vendors offering comprehensive backup suites equipped with a number of features like advanced security, backup reporting, automated scheduling of backup tasks, and faster disaster recoveryWhile the products could always be customized to suit the client’s requirement, high-end features often come with an overhead cost. More often than not, it is not necessary to replace the entire backup infrastructure; the company may only want to upgrade the backup software to a more recent version or just apply a software patch to the existing version, to address the issue. In such a case, it may not be feasible to go for a completely new backup suite.

Assembling the best in breed products

Enterprises could also deploy a multitude of specialized backup applications wherein each application guarantees a good level of performance. This method is flexible in both the cases—backup infrastructure being set up a fresh, as well as upgrading the existing ones. The new infrastructure would be equipped with robust components that are capable of safeguarding the data against natural disasters or hardware failures or even hacking attempts. For the existing backup infrastructure, the need for replacing an entire set-up due to few faults is eliminated.

However, assembling multiple software applications in a single backup environment could potentially raise other issues. The prominent one among them is the compatibility between multi-vendor components. It could be between the backup software and the existing server hardware or between the networks that connects the workstations to the server and the backup database in it. Also, different backup software products, interacting with the same hardware is likely to cause problems. This is usually because each software product seeks to control the backup server simultaneously, which disrupts the normal functioning of the server hardware.

It is also essential to ascertain that backup software is capable of performing its tasks in compliance with the data handling and security requirements prescribed by the company. Good features come at a price and therefore, the cost factor may have to be considered while procuring multiple products from different vendors. The license fee is also an area where the price matters.

Disaster Recovery: An important parameter to be factored

When a failure occurs, it is not just the data but the working environment as a whole that needs to be restored. The time taken to restore things to normalcy is called Disaster Recovery period. While data backup and disaster recovery are not synonyms, the latter cannot happen without the former. Disaster recovery time is known to be lesser when compatibility between different components, is not an issue in the backup solution and restoration environment. The possibility of data loss during the disaster recovery process (essentially due to compatibility issues) cannot be overlooked.

Conclusion

The goal of any organization is to preserve the integrity of its data and not just store copies of it. Therefore, zeroing-in on the “right” strategy for backup is never straight forward as each approach has its own merits and demerits. Incorporating numerous advanced features into the system is of little use when they are of no functional importance to the company. Equally well, when an existing backup product is capable of handling a particular function as per the business requirements, deploying a new one that claims to be the best in breed for the same purpose is not required. However, it has been found feasible to use a smaller number of products for optimum results in backup strategies. If at all a multi-vendor solution is found inevitable, then working with fewer vendors is always advisable. Leveraging the cloud to store data is conspicuous, but technically it is not accepted as a means of backup. Virtualization as also the deployment of multiple servers is being increasingly looked at by companies as a solution to enhance their back up strategies.