by June 29, 2012 0 comments

Q. What are some of the
challenges faced by organizations with respect to backup and

A. It’s a well known fact that data is growing tremendously in every
organization, but even more interesting is the fact that if data
grows from say 1 to 2 TB, then its backup data grows many times this
value! This was one of the findings of a recent Forrester research
report on the state of backup and recovery amongst organizations in
the APJ region. It was based on a survey of 550 organizations across
APJ, out of which 70 were large Indian organizations. The logic for
this is simple. Companies do weekly, daily, monthly and annual
backups, and are required to archive 7-8 years of data. As a result,
backup data ends up being 6-7 times of the actual data we backup.

The challenges faced by
Indian organizations with respect to backup and recovery are
different from the rest of Asia. While the primary challenge for
Indian organizations is related to optimization of the storage and
backup infrastructure itself, for the rest of Asia, the primary
challenge is managing data growth. 52% of organizations in rest of
Asia said this, while only 27% of the Indian respondents gave this as
their key challenge.

The number 3 challenge
related to backup and recovery is dealing with natural disasters,
thanks to the slew of disasters that struck the world in 2011.
Apparently, 2011 was the biggest year of natural disasters, which has
changed a lot of things. A lot of customers who used to backup data
on tapes were not able to restore them, not because the tapes were
corrupt, but because they couldn’t even send people to get the
tapes as their data centers were in the basement. Japan for instance,
was the worst hit. Due to the Tsunami and earthquakes, even roads
were broken, due to which companies couldn’t send their people
to get the tapes. Due to this, online disaster recovery has become
very popular since the last 6-8 months.

The 4th
challenge being faced by organizations is related to backup as a
service. While we have been talking a lot about cloud computing, but
it’s only over the last 4-5 months that people have seriously started
considering it and started putting non-critical data on the cloud.
This is happening because over time, people are finding it
increasingly difficult to manage large volumes of data. For instance,
the Oracle databases and their instances that were maintained by
companies used to be a terabyte or half. Now, their size has reached
double digit TBs. EMC for instance, has customers who have single
Oracle instances of 40 TB. Due to this, backing them up within a 24
hour window is just not possible.

Q. Advancements in
technology have improved data replication and backup speeds. Are they
not sufficient to deal with growing data volumes?

A. People have been doing backups since 1942 when backup meant tapes,
and unfortunately, most people still people follow the same pattern.
This just doesn’t help because now, 90% of data in a lot of
organization is in digital format and not paper. Even your credit
card and mobile bills for instance, are in digital form. The volumes
have grown so much that the next production cycle starts even before
the previous backup has been done. Under such a situation, tape
becomes insufficient. People want quick backups. Moreover, now it is
recovery that has become extremely importance. The focus is on how
fast we can recover. So, people are looking for online replication.
There are products in the market that will start the replication as
soon as the backup starts. So your DR is ready instantly as a result.
Moreover, it’s backed up to a drive and not tape, using a technology
called called disk to disk de-duplication.

Q. What’s the benefit
of using disk over tape for backup and replication?

A. Earlier, tape was not able to keep more than one week’s data.
Whatever was your weekly data, you would put it in the tape and ship
it out. You couldn’t keep the tape for more than a week, but now with
de-duplication on disk backup, one can keep 30-90 days data on the
disk itself and replicate it to the DR side and then apply whatever
policies are there for backing it up to tape. So the impact on your
primary side backup is nothing. That’s what lot of banks are
doing these days, and some of the large banks are even going
completely tapeless and are moving to Tier-1 to Tier-2 disks.

Q. Please comment on
the RoI of disk vs tape based backup and replication.

A. From
a RoI perspective, it would be expensive in short term, but if you do
total 3-5 years TCO and also look at the soft benefits like bandwidth
advantage and green IT, the savings are immense. If you backup 60 TB
of data to tape per day for three years, you end up generating 50.4
tonnes of CO2, but if the same amount of data is de-duped, you only
generate 34.2 tonnes of CO2.

We had this customer who
had 45,000 tapes and replaced them with 4 big tapes. The customer
would soon be going completely tapeless and will put 3 of our Data
Domain appliances into their racks. Data Domain was a company
acquired by EMC in 2009. As a result, they save the space of storing
their 45,000 tapes, along with the cooling and power. Their weekly
backup capacity is 35TB. They are moving from mainframes to open
systems, with their first tape migration, converting 45,000 tapes to
disk and total could be 100-120 TB. This is the power of
de-duplication. 8/10 banks in New York, 7/10 banks in Singapore, 7/10
banks in Hongkong, 8/10 banks in Australia are using our Data Domain
de-duplication technology.

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