It’s Spring Cleaning Time for Your Data Center


Spring may mean warmer weather, but for most of us it also means getting in touch with our inner hoarder: seriously digging into our closets, cupboards and drawers and parting with stuff we don’t use anymore. The alternative, of course, is watching helplessly as our dens, basements, hallways and garages simply become makeshift storage rooms.

As frustrating as spring cleaning can be, it’s a piece of cake compared to the hoarding that’s going on in the average data center. Consider the astronomical growth in data that’s causing organizations’ storage needs to rise by 40% a year – all while IT budgets remain flat and data center resources are stretched to the limit. You can dig into your closet and toss your acid wash jeans from 1993 or that gaudy bowl you got from your aunt in Albuquerque, but how do you toss gigabytes and terabytes of data you can’t see? Where do you start? [Read more…]

Don’t let data recovery times keep profits down

You’re an IT decision maker, and business continuity (BC) is an important component of your IT infrastructure. You understand that accidental or malicious data loss, unplanned system outages, user error, hardware theft or failure, power failure, software failure, fire, flood, earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, tidal waves and tornadoes can blow your company’s data into oblivion.

Have you considered refreshing your backup architecture and processes with short recovery windows being the primary objective?

[Read more…]

Could there still be a place for tape?

Often, new technologies bury old ones – think of the demise of the horse and buggy or the record player. But sometimes, established technologies have a funny way of flailing for a bit then finding a new equilibrium. In-theater movie going, for instance, didn’t die when at-home devices became popular – they both simply learned to coexist in an expanded marketplace to the benefit and joy of consumers who now had more freedom than before.

Here’s another great example: For years now, ever since the advent of the disk, pundits have predicted the apocalyptic demise of tape backup – derisively calling it “end-of-life” technology.

But it just hasn’t happened. Tape is still here, firmly entrenched in the overwhelming majority (82%) of onsite backups. Or to borrow from Mark Twain, “the reports of physical tape’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”

In fact, tape solutions continue to play a huge role for backup, recovery, long-term data retention and data protection in most organizations, particularly small and medium sized businesses.

Why? [Read more…]

Where Did My Data Go?

It seems that as we find newer, faster and more efficient ways to store, access and manipulate data, we can’t seem to keep up with the growth of the data itself. Even worse, we seem to be at odds with finding ways to successfully protect that data from being lost in the abyss.

Backups exist for one function, (No, it’s not to cause a nightly headache for your storage admin), it’s to facilitate the ability to restore data in the case of its disappearance. This can happen in many ways, and whether it’s from accidental user deletion, data corruption, failed disks, power outage or natural disaster, the result is the same… users scream “Where did my data go?!?!?!”

Many companies have complex backup schedules which utilize technologies such as disk staging, data de-duplication, virtual tape libraries, and physical tape libraries. But if the data itself can’t be restored, what good are the underlying technologies? Not much at all.

Many of the organizations I talk to focus all their attention on the “backup” process, but very few ever want to discuss the “restore” process. They spend thousands of dollars on nifty software that supports things like:

  • Data De-duplication – The ability to reduce data sets by only storing 1 copy of each block of data or file
  • Object Consolidation – The ability to create and amalgamate different data sets from different dates into one “synthetic/virtual” backup job. This allows them to run an “incremental forever” policy
  • Granular Recovery Functions – Very important within virtual environments as this allows administrators to recover full VM hosts, VM’s within a host, folders attached to a VM, or even single files within a VM folder
  • Zero Downtime Backup – Which is the ability to integrate onsite storage arrays with the application and backup stacks to provide fully application consistent  backups through the use of array snapshot technology.

All these tools help client reduce backup windows, add flexibility, speed and even granularity to their backups. They also increase automation and reduce user intervention. So isn’t technology a wonderful thing? And haven’t backups come so far over the years? The short answer is YES. But unless you can restore that data successfully [Read more…]

Backup against the wall?

Presenting Softchoice’s Top 6 backup challenges brought on by the virtualization revolution.

Few who’ve seen virtualization implemented in their organizations would debate its benefits. Reduced costs, fewer physical servers, less IT admin time – what’s not to love? But as users rely more on virtual machines, protecting the virtual environment is becoming more critical and complex – and there increasingly lies the struggle. Because the reality is, traditional backup applications haven’t kept up and organizations are struggling to find simple and cost-effective ways to not only protect the data in VMs but protect the VMs themselves.

With that challenge in mind, we thought we’d highlight the top six backup challenges arising from virtualization:

  1. ISV backup software simply isn’t cutting it. A lot of organizations have existing independent software vendor (ISV) applications that are fine for traditional disk or tape backups but much ISV software hasn’t kept pace or been optimized for VMware. VMs are complex enough without making managing and backing them up even more difficult with solutions that aren’t up to the challenge.
  2. Change agents. When software had to be backed up on one or a handful of physical servers that was one thing. But now organizations have dozens, hundreds, even thousands of VMs. That’s a lot of licenses, a lot of CPU power, a lot of I/O power, a lot of IT people painstakingly installing agents on each machine – in other words, it can be a very resource intensive process. The trend is moving to agentless backup software, which backs up systems without needing to install agents on each machine – it can even be done remotely (see #6).
  3. Virtual sprawl and slow backups. VMs, by their very nature, tend to be fat with lots of redundancy and unused capacity, often because they were over-provisioned at the start – someone thought they’d need a 100 Gb server for an HR application but it turned out 20 would have been enough. Now you’ve got a large machine (or two or two thousand of them) that will be slower to backup than they need to in part because most backup solutions read entire big disks and move entire VMs. [Read more…]