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8 Things We All Hate about Data Backup Solutions

by Team Virtiant, on Oct 16, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Read Time: 5 minutes

Data is the true heart of business operations for organizations regardless of their size. Whether you run a small business or a large enterprise, data management is a critical element in the smooth running of a business. Along with proper data management solutions, it is important to focus on the crucial needs of data backups also. Data backup solutions can make or break your business.

For instance, if you receive an email from an infected computer when you open it, it is likely that you will also infect your computer with the virus. Infected systems can be recovered by restoring data from a backup. Data backups also help you quickly recover from other unforeseen disasters and ensure that you and your business stay ahead of the competition.

While data backup offers multiple benefits, it comes with certain challenges as well which I shall cover in more depth and detail below:

1) Cost required to build and maintain multiple backup sites

The first and foremost challenge is the exponential growth of data. In mid-size companies, data is exploding at lightning speed. Mid-sized companies work with multi-tier systems and extended networks that are integrated with mobile, cloud, and other third-party applications, and the data that is generated in these enterprises is truly mind-boggling. Also, the type of data being generated is constantly changing with time.

Earlier, you had to deal with documents and spreadsheets. Today, digital multimedia brings a wide variety of data formats into the system, each with their requirements regarding storage and recovery. Adding to this challenge is virtual machine sprawl. With the advancement in technology, organizations can create virtual machines in near real time. As virtual servers grow, backup challenges for these servers grow as well. To backup this data and maintain replication sites, you have to make significant investments in the form of CapEx and OpEx.

Organizations that build remote backup sites for data replication assuming that this will protect them from all eventualities including natural disasters are going in the wrong direction. When it comes to backup data solutions, the priority should be on data/network outages that will affect data availability. This is where the on-premise backup has the edge over cloud-based Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions. When properly planned and executed, on-premise data backup and recovery solutions reduce most of the above-mentioned costs.

2) Extra cost from virtualization license fee

Virtualization server backup requirements bring additional challenges. When you run a virtual machine, you need to backup the data and applications that are run on the VMs stored on the virtual server. Any conventional backup software will do this job, but to be effective, you need to install the backup software on each virtual server machine.

There are two issues with this approach:

  • You need a software license for each virtual machine that you are trying to backup.
  • The backup software running on the virtual server shares the resources of that machine. This impacts the performance of the server.

To address the performance issues, you can choose a software package that is built specifically for virtualization. These applications directly integrate with the virtualization platform and take snapshots of the entire virtual machine state. Restoral of the server requires a restore of the entire image even when a single file is lost which can be quite a time and resource intensive.

3) Bandwidth and latency between sites dictates replication performance

If you have decided on creating an offsite data backup and disaster recovery environment, you have to consider two important aspects. The first is the bandwidth and the second is the latency.

When you create a backup infrastructure, it means you are moving large volumes of data to and from your organization. When you have to run applications that deal with large volumes of data, you need greater bandwidth. Otherwise, the performance of an application is affected.

Network latency is the time it takes for a packet of data to get from one designated point to another. The lower the latency, the faster the data transmission between networks. While designing a backup solution, you should check the network latency. If the network latency is higher, data transmission becomes slower. Latency is a problem with public cloud backup solutions. Public cloud providers such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft set up their data centers in remote locations (sometimes thousands of miles distant) to optimize costs.

Although these data centers are inexpensive when you store large volumes of data, the latency issues make them unsuitable for some production applications. This is one of the reasons many organizations are moving from offsite data backup and disaster recovery environment to an on-premise backup infrastructure.

4) Limited Scale-out Capabilities

Regardless of the size and nature of the business, databases are getting larger and larger every day.  There is a host of reasons for this increase, including the Virtual Machines that we’ve already discussed where admins need to backup whole servers, but you also have the requirement to retain data based on changing government regulations and business demands, and even the data that needs to be maintained for analytical purposes.

Most organizations that use on-premise storage solutions have fixed storage capacity that is expensive to expand. When it comes to data backup and recovery, organizations are forced to comply with strict budgets, limited space for data center infrastructure and the energy consumption costs, resulting in limited scale-out capabilities.

5) Secondary hypervisor for backup solutions

Backup and recovery solutions in traditional networks are pretty straightforward. However, the advent of the cloud and virtualization has changed the entire scenario.

In a virtualization environment, a hypervisor is required to virtualize server capacity. Using virtualization software, you can quickly create virtual machines and manage them. When you backup a virtual network, it will have to take the snapshot of the image and store it in the replication site.

Most disaster recovery solutions require the purchase of secondary hypervisor and storage infrastructure for disaster recovery. You can invest heavily in the primary storage solution, but unless you have also purchased a secondary hypervisor and associated tools, you are not truly protected.

6) Managing with old technology

Many organizations still use old and legacy tools in the data center. However, today’s data analytics solutions demand instant and continuous access to data. With legacy tools, managing backups across an integrated infrastructure is a challenge. The advent of disc-based storage has brought rapid innovation in the data center.

For instance, primary storage devices such as purpose-built backup appliances can compliment backup and disaster recovery solutions. When purpose-built backup appliances were introduced, storage analysts opined that they would resolve backup challenges as they converge backup and deduplication tasks.

However, newer technologies such as hyperconvergence solutions quickly took over the data center. As the storage technology is innovating at this pace, most organizations are not able to match their data backup budgets to accommodate new and changing technologies in this segment.

It is important to when designing a new data center that you take into account both the new and upcoming technologies and applications so that you can ensure that your budget is being best serviced.

7) Human errors and Media failure

Human errors and media failures are the most common reasons attributed to the failure of data backup solutions.

Human errors rank second in the list of common data backup failures. However, media failures are mostly caused by improper handling, so if you add this percentage to the human error statistic, human errors will top the list.

Accidental deletion of data or a shared folder is a common thing in organizations. It is estimated that human errors attribute to 32% of data failures in organizations.

To avoid human errors, you need to train the staff to follow best practices. People who are involved in the data backup procedures should know what to do and what not to do. The best option is to create data backup plans that do not require any human action.

Before the advent of disc-based storage, media failures have topped the backup failure list. Today, legacy media has been replaced by disc-based storage. While the failure percentage was significantly decreased with the advent of disc-based storage, failures still occur.

For instance, organizations use SATA disc arrays for data backup as they are cost-effective. However, they do not offer features such as hot spare disks or redundant power supplies, which means your backup data solutions, are less reliable.

8) Catching up with the speed

The pace of IT innovation is constantly increasing. Data recovery solutions have to keep up with this pace. With shrinking recovery point objective (RPO) values, recovery solutions are required to recover more data in less time. Legacy storage tools, such as tapes, cannot match the low RPO requirements. So, organizations are compelled to invest in newer backup and recovery technologies simply to meet this pace.

Data backup and recovery solutions should be fully integrated with the existing infrastructure and should be efficient and secure. While the ability to scale up and down to meet changing business demands is a key requirement, the primary focus should always be on uninterrupted data availability. It is always recommended to test your data backup and recovery solutions thoroughly to ensure that they meet data recovery objectives.

Data availability is paramount to every organization. Businesses that prioritize uninterrupted data availability are sure to stay ahead in the competition. Ignoring this fact could leave your business out of the competition. 

Topics:Data BackupDisaster Recovery PlanIT ResiliencyTechnicalTechnologybusiness continuityDisaster RecoveryBusiness

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