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BLOG: When it comes to data protection, anything goes

Peter Eicher | Oct. 8, 2012

When I first started in the data protection space -- way back when Windows 95 was released , the first Toy Story movie hit the silver screen, and a series of caves was discovered in France that years later would lead to a fascinating Werner Herzog film - there weren't a lot of choices for protecting enterprise data. You could back your data up to tape, or you could not back it up at all. They call that a Hobson's Choice, I believe.

Well we've come a long way since then. Tape remains an option, but it is ever more frowned upon and for good reason. It can't keep up with today's rates of data growth (up to as much as 50% a year). The traditional method used for tape backup - daily file incrementals and weekly fulls - is just asking for trouble as any failure along the way can ruin your recovery. And the entire model of streaming data for restore - that is, taking a bunch of stuff sitting over there and moving it all over to here before you can use it - is hopelessly outdated when data footprints routinely rise into multiple Terabytes, if not even Petabytes.  

Fortunately, technology has moved on and we now have lots of other options for protecting data. You can backup to disk instead of tape. You can backup to deduplicating disk, which is even better. You can use snapshots on your primary disk systems. You can use disk-to-disk snapshots. You can use server-based replication. You can use network-based replication. You can use application-layer replication. You can backup to the cloud. In fact, there are so many ways to do things that you could almost say "anything goes" in data protection. And since I never miss an opportunity to insert Cole Porter lyrics into a conversation:

In olden days a glimpse of stocking

Was looked on as something shocking,

But now, God knows,

Anything Goes.

Well, that's very clever, but it isn't very relevant to the conversation, so let's update the words just a bit.

In olden days when every backup

Was sent to tape things would crack-up!

But now, God knows,

Anything Goes.

A disk array can be your target now,

Backups so fast you'll take a bow,

It's not slow!

Anything Goes.

Not only are disk backups faster, but they complete more reliably, which is even more important.  Speed and backup times are crucial, but the most important thing is that your backups succeed on a consistent basis. Because if they don't you're facing a choice even worse than Hobson's: which is to say, no choice whatsoever. No backup, no recovery.    


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