Backups can take up a great deal of storage capacity.
In the old days, some companies would do a new backup every week or sometimes every day. They would store all data from every backup and end up with hundreds or even thousands of copies of some files. Incremental backups reduced the storage burden. A new full backup might be done every once in a while. But daily backups would only transmit new files or changed files.
Over the years, the storage needs for backup have shifted.
Here at some of the top trends influencing the backup storage market:
1. Monitoring storage usage costs
The cost of storing backups has always been an issue.
It continues to challenge backup operators even in this era of cloud-based backup. Cloud transformations may allow organizations to do away with heavy upfront CapEx costs, like investments in hardware and data centers.
But, in their place, backup admins are faced with managing cloud storage usage and, with it, unexpected cloud storage fees.
“Those using AWS for their backup operations, due to no oversight over expired or orphaned snapshots, are seeing their storage fees exceed planned amounts,” said Bocada CEO Matt Hall.
“They’re now going back to talking about storage usage costs again, but this time the conversation centers around how to operationalize obsolete data purges and keep storage costs in check.”
2. Backup and storage security
Backups are no good if they are infected.
Therefore, backup and storage admins are being tasked with more security duties to prevent misconfiguration and eliminate vulnerabilities.
“Organizations often overlook important elements in their data protection plan such a host-based, storage-based snapshots, database-based snapshots, replication, backup tools, archiving appliances, NAS devices, and cloud repositories,” said Doron Pinhas, CTO at Continuity Software.
“Ensure that all critical data elements are protected, and that copies are kept on different types of media and on different sites.”
3. Cloud and disk and tape
This last element is vital. Organizations are now storing copies of backups in the cloud as well as copies on site and tape copies offsite.
Doing so greatly reduces the chances of recovery failure in the event of a disaster.
“Align the backup architecture with their organization’s operational recovery needs,” said Michael Hoeck, an analyst at Gartner.
“Optimize backup storage usage by using disk-based backup appliances or SAN storage for operational recovery, and either on-premises tape or object storage or public cloud storage for long-term retention.”
4. Multicloud storage
Another evolving storage strategy for backup is to store backup copies on different clouds.
This can be done regionally or internationally using services from one provider, such as AWS stores the data at different locations around the world.
Or increasingly, organizations chose to store their backups with multiple cloud providers. They give a copy to Amazon and another copy to Azure, for example. Gartner advises those that are protecting multicloud environments to also develop multicloud backup strategies.
“Invest in backup solutions that address data protection requirements in the data center, public cloud and edge environments,” said Hoeck with Gartner.
“Understand thoroughly the level of resilience provided on the primary backup copy and the need to invest in additional backup copies to ensure backup resilience.”
However, this should be done in such a way as to avoid complexity. Hoeck stressed the need for simplicity in backup and data management. This may require some organizations to rearchitect their backup infrastructure.
5. Speed of recovery
It is all well and good to have all organizational backed up, stored in multiple places, and thoroughly protected against ransomware and other security threats.
But the point of backup is to have the data backed up. It is to have that data recoverable in as short a time as possible.
Over the years, various approaches have been developed to bring about a speedy recovery. Organizations learned to pay attention to such things as recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). The shorter the RTO, the faster the recovery.
However, that often came with a high cost. Thus, compromises were needed. Perhaps some data would get a very fast RTO and the rest would receive a more modest one. More recently, systems have appeared to provide instant or near-instant recovery of databases, virtual machines (VMs), and file systems.
“A majority of vendors support instant recovery of VMs by mounting the backed-up VM directly on the production host via NFS,” said Hoeck with Gartner.
“VMs can thus become instantly available, while the actual recovery process can be initiated in the background.”
Gartner listed vendors such as Cohesity and Rubrik as offering instant recovery of Microsoft SQL and Oracle databases. Veeam meanwhile provides point-in-time file share access from backups via read-only SMB file share.