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Gigabit Ethernet and Dedicated Backup LANs
Another suggestion for backing up more data in less time is building a dedicated 1000 Mbps (megabits per second) Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) LAN for increasing backup performance. “Gigabit Ethernet ports and NICs are quickly approaching the cost of 10/100 Mbps interfaces of two years ago,” says Sante. “A GbE port can support 100 MBps (Megabytes per second), NICs costs about $100, and 24-port switches are available for a few thousand dollars.”
However, he continues, one of the problems with backup is the network speed across the LAN. “Users want to back up 100 MBs but restrict themselves with 1 MBps or 10 MBps bottlenecks because of old network connections,” says Sante. He suggests that by deploying a LAN specifically for backup traffic, users can see up to a 10x increase in the backup window.
Hunter agrees that the backup network itself often creates a bottleneck. He suggests replacing aging 10/100 Mbps networks with Gigabit Ethernet. “Gigabit Ethernet is inexpensive and readily available, and offers a solution that is guaranteed to improve backup performance.
Consolidate Backups to Data Center with Data Replication
Another way to increase backup performance and increase efficiency for branch offices and departments, according to Hunter, is to outsource the service to the data center core. “This can be accomplished by remotely replicating data from the branch office to the data center,” he explains.
Asynchronous replication is an effective way of accomplishing this without requiring significant WAN bandwidth requirements. “By keeping the backups at the data center, businesses can realize the economies of scale with a consolidated backup operations department,” he concludes.
Use Shared, High Speed, Block-based Storage Devices
Another alternative for backing up more data in less time is to eliminate the weakest link the backup process. In most cases, according to Sante, if it’s not the network or the tape drive, it’s the production disk drives.
Sante points out that the LAN and the tape drives are usually the first two elements that users need to address when tackling the problem of shrinking the backup window. Those two elements are followed by the host disk drives where the data for backup is located. Sante says that in most cases, more and more data needs to be backed up, but the servers are not able to move the data fast enough.
The key to increasing backup performance and general I/O performance, Sante says, is to migrate to a SAN. “This may be a big leap for many companies, but the new IP-based SANs are much more affordable and easier to install.”
Sante suggests that instead of organizations spreading out their budgets to maintain individual storage on each server, they can consolidate that budget by purchasing a more effective, high speed solution that can be shared by all of the servers. “Backup performance will benefit greatly by the increased performance of the centralized storage solution, and organizations will reap the added benefits of snapshots and network data mirroring.”
As the volume of data being produced in organizations across the globe continues to increase, the conundrum of backing up more data in less time will continue to be on the minds of every IT manager. The good news is that more effective and more efficient solutions continue to pop up to help solve this seemingly never-ending problem.