Guide to Selecting Backup & Recovery Software

Enterprise backup software is a safety net that keeps businesses running when application errors, cyber-attacks, negligent workers and countless other IT mishaps strike. Technical approaches between vendors vary somewhat, as do each organization’s data protection requirements and objectives. But essentially, all enterprise backup solutions keep a duplicate copy of information on a storage device, separate from a primary server, PC or storage system for safekeeping.

Backup software solutions have also grown more sophisticated over time, reflecting the advances that have shaped the modern operating system, application and data center markets.

Accordingly, many of today’s backup products do more than just transfer files and application data from one storage device to another. They can include resource-optimizing data management capabilities and other features that once used to belong to distinct classes of data protection tools.

A key concept here is backup software and disaster recovery: Turning their attention to the entire data lifecycle, many backup vendors imbued their product lines with features historically found in archiving and disaster recovery software. Now, it’s common for the terms to be used interchangeably to describe platforms that fulfill not only the short-term and long-term backup data retention requirement of organizations, but also enable businesses to retrieve that data when the need arises.

enterprise backup and recovery

Enterprise backup software plays a critical role in storage security, and can span several storage media. 

Selecting Backup and Recovery Software

What should you look for in enterprise backup applications? That all depends on your specific IT environment and the kinds of data that need backing up.

Cover all your options: Chances are that you will be evaluating and perhaps investing in a couple of products to cover all your bases. Although all-inclusive backup applications exist, specialized solutions may provide the data protection that’s better suited for virtual machines than basic PC and laptop file recovery, for example.

Virtual vs. bare metal: Some products excel in heavily-virtualized environments and others in applications that run on bare-metal or physical servers. Does your business run Oracle, SAP or Microsoft SQL databases? Are your developers using Docker containers to power their applications?

Remember the Cloud: Increasingly, the cloud hangs over many decisions made by CIOs and IT managers, and finding the right backup and data recovery software is no exception. Lured by comparatively inexpensive cloud storage costs and rapidly-maturing service delivery models, enterprises are turning to the cloud for their data protection needs. If the cloud factors into the calculus used to determine your IT investments, a cloud-enabled backup software solution may be in your future.

Volume and scalability: Other considerations include the sheer volumes of data that a backup solution must effectively manage and whether it can scale as your data backup requirements grow and change. Do they deliver the acceptable performance or bog down the network during backup operations?

Below is a snapshot of the backup and archive software provider marketplace to help guide the evaluation process.

Other key factors in selecting backup and recovery software:

Realize that once backup software has been implemented, it tends to implemented for a long time horizon. for years. This is true for any number of factors, not the least of which is that storage admins are reluctant to replace such core software. 

Having a backup software that fits your needs is critical. While some storage vendors offer general solutions, others focus on a targeted approach that may be for more efficient and cost effective of your company. Among the questions to ask: 

1. The elements of your current storage infrastructure.

2. The level of on-staff expertise in storage administration.

3. What is your RPO (recovery point objective; which is the amount of data at risk) and your RTO (recovery time objective; the amount of time it takes to recover data and return to effective service).

4. Your encryption strategy.

5. Most important, of course, is budget, and whether a given vendor has product at your price point. Key point: the budget considerations must work not just for this year, but for the foreseeable future. Here is a helpful article on Enterprise Backup and Recovery Management.

These leaders in data backup are defining the storage marketplace. The 10 Best Data Backup Solutions.

Remember Data Backup Compliance and SLAs

It’s not enough to find a good fit for your particular environment, businesses must also weigh their regulatory obligations and compliance standards that govern how they manage and protect their backup data.

Is credit card information included in your backups? The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (DSS) has some guidelines worth reviewing. HIPAA also has rules on how health data is to be managed, secure and retained. Make sure the backup solutions you’re considering can adapt to the regulatory and corporate governance schemes that affect your business.

Additionally, can a product support the backup and recovery service-level agreements (SLAs) set by an IT department and an organization’s various stakeholders?

Failing to meet realistic agreed-upon recovery times can have consequences that ripple throughout a business, particularly if the data in question involves a critical application or customer database. To ensure that your data protection setup can meet SLAs, seek out monitoring and analytics capabilities that accurately report the status and health of your backup and recovery systems so that no one is caught off guard when called into action.

Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez
Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to Datamation, eWEEK, and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro.

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