I was speaking with Bocada and Tek-Tools last week about their focus on helping customers solve their data protection challenges. If you think about it there is no shortage of solutions to protect your environment, and I am encountering more than a few data centers that have the same data set protected four or five times. Ironically, they don't feel anymore comfortable about recovery. The problem is a lack of process or workflow to all these point solutions.
This lack of confidence leads to multiple data protection methods such as snapshots, continuous data protection, application specific backup, environment specific backup, enterprise backup and replication, to name a few. The lack of a workflow or process leads to a duplication (or triplication) of effort. It also leads to not knowing what protected copy to turn to first in the case of a failure. The lack of a workflow may also lead to a resistance to continuous testing because without a workflow, knowing what part of recovery to test can be daunting.
The large vendor response to this has been to try to consolidate as much of this data protection as possible into a single package; Enterprise Data Protection, and there is nothing wrong with that if that vendor can cover all your specific needs. Despite the enterprise protection vendor's best efforts many environments opt for additional protection. Look at the rise in application specific protection tools like those from Kroll Ontrack and AppAssure or platform specific tools like those from Vizioncore or Veeam. Finally, there often is an operating system itself that is awarded special treatment and the administrator is allowed to use their own tool.
The reality is that no matter how good and how complete the enterprise data protection applications become, you will have other data protection processes in your environment. What's needed is a unifying tool that can help you build your own workflow around data protection. There is nothing wrong with protecting something more than once as long as you know its happening, and as long you know which protection copy you are going to count on for recovery.
The workflow should of course inventory all the data protection steps that are occurring in the environment, then it should help you identify what can be eliminated. For example do you really need Exchange backed up twice? If you are using an Exchange specific tool, can you have your backup application back up the data that the exchange specific tool creates? There are pros and cons to each choice. Developing a workflow allows you to decide which is best.George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for datacenters across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS, ... View Full Bio