In the Era of Big Data, Companies Need Reliable Backup and Disaster Recovery
It’s difficult to over-emphasize the importance of backup and disaster recovery, two distinct and critical components for protecting your client’s business. But as a managed it services provider, having solutions is not enough. Without proper testing, you might as well not have backup and disaster solutions at all.
For a variety of reasons, the market has seen a proliferation of backup and disaster recovery solutions lately. One of the biggest factors is the continued explosion of data among businesses. This explosion is fueled by the decline of paper in the office and the simultaneous increase of digital communication in the past decade and the second is the sheer amount of data being generated by business systems. The rate of data creation has increase so rapidly that according to IBM, 90% of the global data was created in the past TWO YEARS.
Another is the continued decline in disk-based storage (hard drives) which, like moores law, allows us to get more and more storage, not computing power, for the same price. Check out the graph below on the falling cost per 1GB of storage.
While backup and disaster recovery solutions have been around for years – primarily as bolt-ons to operating systems or as a feature in enterprise storage arrays (SANs from EMC, NetApp, Dell, etc.) – these two driving forces have dramatically increased the market size. That has created an opportunity for companies to develop standalone backup and disaster recovery solutions.
Selecting the right solution in such a crowded marketplace can be difficult. Here are some common questions and answers to help you find the way:
1) What is the most logical way to categorize the available solutions?
Managed IT services providers often play an advisor role for Backup and Disaster Recovery or include it in their offering (Not recomended). So it’s important to know the categories of solutions availble, the best fit for your managed it services clients, and their costs.
- Highly Automated: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Solutions protect data centers and entire business infrastructures. (VMware site recovery manager; vendor storage replication; snapshots; highly available virtualized infrastructures, etc.) You usually see these in enterprise companies with large investments in IT Infrastructure, software and systems.
- Partially Automated: These solutions support local and remote-site backups, backup management and scheduling, incremental backups over the wire and partially automated recovery procedures. Either the vendor helps restore the applications and data, or the software solution has some built-in software recovery automation once the disaster event has passed. Evault and AppAssure are two examples.
- Mostly Manual Backup Solutions: These are local-storage, scheduled backups that mostly protect application data but require manual or bare-metal restores primarily. Recovery time objectives in such cases are a few days to weeks.
- Consumer and low-end technologies: Mozy, Carbonite, Dropbox and Box.net are among the providers in this category. While these aren’t true backup and disaster recovery options for businesses, they can be better than nothing, and they might evolve into more competitive solutions in the years to come.
2) What are the strengths and weaknesses of each group?
The costs are exponential when going from consumer to highly automated solutions. Backup and disaster recovery solutions are measured in terms of recovery time objective and recovery point objective.
- Recovery Time Objective: How long before you can get your systems back up and running? Think downtime.
- Recovery Point Objective: How much data did you lose when you system went down? If you take nightly backups, then it could be as high as 24 hours, if you take snapshots of your data every 15 minutes, then your maximum data loss would be 15 minutes.
The shorter you want your RTO and RPO, the more expensive the solution.
3) What key questions should Managed IT Services providers think about when deciding which solution they will use?
- What are the RTOs and RPOs that your business wants and needs?
- What solution meets those objectives?
- How much data do you really need to protect?
- Can the solution effectively handle that amount of data?
- If you have 10 terabytes but only 2TB is relevant then, maybe you can use a tiered backup and disaster recovery solution for the different types of data, based on their criticality.
4) What role, if any, should low-end solutions such as Carbonite, Box.com, or Mozy play in a managed it services provider’s BDR strategy?
While having a backup solution is better than not having one, we don’t recommend using a consumer-grade solution in your business. We don’t support these solutions as a Backup or Disaster recovery solution for our clients.