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Data Protection Storage Is Different

As data protection software becomes more intelligent, it may appear as
though we need less of the storage hardware that holds
protected copies of the production data. Many data protection software
vendors are actively promoting the concept that you can use any disk
system as a backup destination. Should you use a cheap SATA array or a
data protection storage system?

Data protection storage, essentially disk arrays purpose-built for the
data protection process, have made their mark typically by offering
unique software capabilities like deduplication, compression and
replication. These capabilities are the very ones that the data
protection software vendors are working on replacing. Reality is that
this software intelligence is still going to be needed on the data
protection appliance even after most backup applications have added
deduplication and replication.

As an example, one of the problems with software-based deduplication is
that all the data has to run through that software in order for maximum
deduplication efficiency. In almost every data center, there are some, if
not many, data protection tasks that are external to the primary data
protection application, managed by a separate piece of software.
Additionally, many of the backup software applications, even with their
deduplication capabilities, are in their relative infancy when it comes
to replicating their backup jobs. Many backup software vendors advise that you use the storage system's replication capability along
with their deduplication to create the remote vault. Factor in that data protection storage vendors are not standing still;
they are adding enhancements that make their deduplication and
optimization capabilities more efficient than the software. There is also more intelligence than just deduplication; they add
encryption, WORM and other features.

The other component is the hardware itself. Cost is not the only concern with data protection storage; it needs to perform well,
scale and maintain data availability. Most of the hardware capabilities
that you need in data protection storage are also the result of more
software intelligence, but this time provided by the hardware vendor and
tuned to make the storage system perform, scale or protect your data

Performance is a big concern and is typically the number one motivation
for choosing to send backups to disk. Having a disk target that can not
keep up with the backup server sending data makes it
hard to achieve this goal. Scaling should be a bigger concern. As
retention requirements increase, the need to be able to scale storage
becomes more critical. Finally, your hardware has to keep your data safe. Data protection
storage systems should take steps to verify data not only as it is being
written but also for the life of that data by re-scanning periodically
it to make sure it is still valid, so it is there when you need it.

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