Special Coverage Series

Network Computing

Special Coverage Series


IT Gambling With Backups

IT is playing dice with backups, according to InformationWeek’s latest storage survey. From failing to back up remote offices to haphazard tests of data restoration, too many IT pros take backup risks.

IT is taking unwarranted risks with backups, according to results of InformationWeek's 2013 Backup Survey (registration required).

While most companies (60%) use at least two backup applications, many are still ignoring key issues, such as data restoration. To wit, just 44% said they perform annual test restores for most of their applications, meaning 56% do so sporadically.

Despite those numbers, 63% say they are very or extremely confident of their ability to get the business up and running after a disaster. That confidence may not be warranted.

"While respondents are generally satisfied that backup processes are sufficient to protect their systems, an outside observer may not agree," wrote the survey's author, Howard Marks, founder and chief scientist at storage consultancy and test lab DeepStorage.net. "In fact, our survey results--and too much sad experience-tell us that our respondents' high level of satisfaction is, at least in part, the bliss that comes from ignorance."

chart: Confidence in Recovery Capabilities

Another cause for alarm is the failure of many respondents to back up data from branch and remote offices. In fact, 43% of respondents tasked with supporting remote sites said they don't bother to back up these sites at all.

Marks notes that while backing up remote and branch offices can be tricky, it has to be done. IT pros can choose from a number of methods to protect remote offices. "Consider setting up a deduplicating appliance in the remote office and having it replicate to a central site, using source deduplication software that operates similarly, or hiring an online or cloud backup service," he wrote. "There's no excuse for not protecting this data."

Despite these glaring weaknesses, most companies seem to be content with their backup practices: 84% of respondents are at least somewhat satisfied with their current backup systems, and 91% say they're at least moderately confident that they can recover adequately if a disaster takes out their main data center.

One area where companies appear to making definite progress is in backup processes for virtual servers. For instance, one in four respondents is backing up at least 100 virtual servers, nearly double the percentage that had reached that threshold two years ago.

In addition, fewer companies (73%) are using the same system for backing up both physical and virtual servers, reflecting the growing adoption of virtual-only backup systems. And more than half of the respondents (52%) said they're backing up all of their virtual servers at least weekly.

[ Join us at Interop Las Vegas for access to 125+ IT sessions and 300+ exhibiting companies. Register today! ]

"Since our 2011 survey," wrote Marks, "the level of backup protection has increased dramatically, especially for virtual servers."

Further hope that backup practices will continue to improve--whether they're preserving physical or virtual resources--can be found in the fact that 47% of respondents said they'd added a new backup application during the previous 12 months.

Interestingly, respondents also seem to favor old-school, off-site backup methods. While just 19% said they use cloud-based backup or storage services, 61% said they ship tapes either to a records storage facility (39%) or to another office (22%). That ratio will likely change, as storage experts consistently recommend using cloud storage services for off-site backup.

Marks echoed that message with his advice, writing, "If you're sending backup data off site via tape less than daily, look into cloud storage as an alternative."

Finally, as you'd expect, the survey reflects the growing amount of data being generated by businesses. Consider that 28% are backing up no fewer than 200 Tbytes of data, a nearly nine-fold increase over the 3% who were backing up that much data in 2011.



Related Reading


More Insights



Network Computing encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Network Computing moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing/SPAM. Network Computing further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

 
Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | Please read our commenting policy.
 

Editor's Choice

Research: 2014 State of Server Technology

Research: 2014 State of Server Technology

Buying power and influence are rapidly shifting to service providers. Where does that leave enterprise IT? Not at the cutting edge, thatís for sure: Only 19% are increasing both the number and capability of servers, budgets are level or down for 60% and just 12% are using new micro technology.
Get full survey results now! »

Vendor Turf Wars

Vendor Turf Wars

The enterprise tech market used to be an orderly place, where vendors had clearly defined markets. No more. Driven both by increasing complexity and Wall Street demands for growth, big vendors are duking it out for primacy -- and refusing to work together for IT's benefit. Must we now pick a side, or is neutrality an option?
Get the Digital Issue »

WEBCAST: Software Defined Networking (SDN) First Steps

WEBCAST: Software Defined Networking (SDN) First Steps


Software defined networking encompasses several emerging technologies that bring programmable interfaces to data center networks and promise to make networks more observable and automated, as well as better suited to the specific needs of large virtualized data centers. Attend this webcast to learn the overall concept of SDN and its benefits, describe the different conceptual approaches to SDN, and examine the various technologies, both proprietary and open source, that are emerging.
Register Today »

Related Content

From Our Sponsor

How Data Center Infrastructure Management Software Improves Planning and Cuts Operational Cost

How Data Center Infrastructure Management Software Improves Planning and Cuts Operational Cost

Business executives are challenging their IT staffs to convert data centers from cost centers into producers of business value. Data centers can make a significant impact to the bottom line by enabling the business to respond more quickly to market demands. This paper demonstrates, through a series of examples, how data center infrastructure management software tools can simplify operational processes, cut costs, and speed up information delivery.

Impact of Hot and Cold Aisle Containment on Data Center Temperature and Efficiency

Impact of Hot and Cold Aisle Containment on Data Center Temperature and Efficiency

Both hot-air and cold-air containment can improve the predictability and efficiency of traditional data center cooling systems. While both approaches minimize the mixing of hot and cold air, there are practical differences in implementation and operation that have significant consequences on work environment conditions, PUE, and economizer mode hours. The choice of hot-aisle containment over cold-aisle containment can save 43% in annual cooling system energy cost, corresponding to a 15% reduction in annualized PUE. This paper examines both methodologies and highlights the reasons why hot-aisle containment emerges as the preferred best practice for new data centers.

Monitoring Physical Threats in the Data Center

Monitoring Physical Threats in the Data Center

Traditional methodologies for monitoring the data center environment are no longer sufficient. With technologies such as blade servers driving up cooling demands and regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley driving up data security requirements, the physical environment in the data center must be watched more closely. While well understood protocols exist for monitoring physical devices such as UPS systems, computer room air conditioners, and fire suppression systems, there is a class of distributed monitoring points that is often ignored. This paper describes this class of threats, suggests approaches to deploying monitoring devices, and provides best practices in leveraging the collected data to reduce downtime.

Cooling Strategies for Ultra-High Density Racks and Blade Servers

Cooling Strategies for Ultra-High Density Racks and Blade Servers

Rack power of 10 kW per rack or more can result from the deployment of high density information technology equipment such as blade servers. This creates difficult cooling challenges in a data center environment where the industry average rack power consumption is under 2 kW. Five strategies for deploying ultra-high power racks are described, covering practical solutions for both new and existing data centers.

Power and Cooling Capacity Management for Data Centers

Power and Cooling Capacity Management for Data Centers

High density IT equipment stresses the power density capability of modern data centers. Installation and unmanaged proliferation of this equipment can lead to unexpected problems with power and cooling infrastructure including overheating, overloads, and loss of redundancy. The ability to measure and predict power and cooling capability at the rack enclosure level is required to ensure predictable performance and optimize use of the physical infrastructure resource. This paper describes the principles for achieving power and cooling capacity management.