Developing a Storage Strategy for the Future by taenk


[   Developing a Storage Backup Strategy

                                                                            This content was adapted from's
                                                                            Enterprise Storage Forum, Enterprise IT Planet,
                                                                            and InternetNews Web sites. Contributors:
                                                                            Drew Robb, Mike Harwood, Henry Newman,
                                                                            and Paul Shread.

                                                                                 2        Don't Let Backup
                                                                                          Take a Backseat
 2                                                                                        Drew Robb

                                                                                 4        Getting Backup Right
                                                                                          Henry Newman

                                                                                 7        Backup Strategies
                                                                                          Mike Harwood
 4                                    7
                                                                             13           Finding a Disaster Recovery
                                                                                          Solution That Won't Break
                                                                                          the Bank
                                                                                          Drew Robb

                                                                            16            Small Businesses Turn
                                                                                          to Online Backup
13                                   16                                                   Drew Robb

Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.

                             [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]

Don’t Let Backup Take a Backseat
                                                           By Drew Robb

                                                                        “What people should do, but often don't, is start with

            ith storage requirements moving into the tera-,
            peta- and exabyte ranges, companies need to                 the recovery requirements,” says W. Curtis Preston, vice
            refine their backup strategies to ensure availability       president of Framingham, Mass., storage consultancy
of their growing data stores.                                                                GlassHouse Technologies, Inc.

“Many data centers still perform                                                                      This means determining the
backup operations the same they                                                                       Recovery Time Objective (how
have for decades – and it does                                                                        quickly the data needs to be
not work any more,” says Lauren                                                                       restored) and Recovery Point
Whitehouse, an analyst at                                                                             Objective (how current the data
Enterprise Strategy Group. “It is                                                                     must be) for each class of data
time to re-evaluate the capabili-                                                                     and creating a plan that meets
ties and requirements, and reset                                                                      those requirements.
expectations – just because a
4GB Oracle database could be                                                                          2. Save files to disk before
recovered in three hours in 1987                                                                      migrating them to tape.
doesn't mean it can be today
when the database is 4TB.”                                                                        “Disk staging makes a huge dif-
                                                                                                  ference, shrinking backup win-
Accordingly, Enterprise IT Planet                                                                 dows by as much as three quar-
interviewed several storage                                                                       ters,” says Ramon Kagan, manag-
experts and gleaned the follow-                                                                   er of UNIX services at York
ing tips for improving your own                                                                   University in Toronto. “We are
backup and restoration proce-                                                                     able to do backups much faster
dures.                                                                                            from the server standpoint and
                                                                                                  then cycle it to tape during the
1. Plan in Reverse.                                                     day, saving people and servers a lot of time.”

figure out what needs to be restored, and how fast,                     3. Eliminate excess.
and then devise an appropriate backup plan.
                                                                        Do you need to store daily copies of a file that hasn't

                Many data centers still perform backup operations the same they have
                           for decades – and it does not work any more

2                                                                ”
                                                       Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                          [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
changed in six months, or the personal copies of an e-             up).”
mail the CEO sent to all employees? Deduplicating
files reduces the amount of storage needed and                     8. Store a copy of the recovery plan with the backup
speeds backup times.                                               data.

“We have commonly seen 20-to-1 capacity reduction                  Particularly when there is a major disaster, those who
using data de-duplication,” says Whitehouse.                       normally handle backup/restoration may not be avail-
                                                                   able. Storing a copy of the plan with the tapes allows
4. Have backups stored outside the disaster impact                 someone else to take the necessary steps.
                                                                   9. Test the restoration process before it is needed,
At a minimum, backup tapes should be stored off site.              and test it on the actual equipment that will be
Better yet, all data is mirrored to a disaster recovery            used.
facility far enough away that it is still on line when the
flood/hurricane/earthquake/blackout brings down the                This is particularly critical when you are planning on
primary data center.                                               using a disaster recovery site that contains different
                                                                   servers or a different network architecture. When talk-
5. Track down and eliminate any network bottle-                    ing about a multitiered service, it doesn't do any good
necks.                                                             to restore only one part. Or, if the application is used to
                                                                   looking for a piece of code or a file on a particular serv-
Bottlenecks will slow down backup and restoration. This            er in order to complete an operation, what will happen
is particularly an issue with server virtualization, where         if it's on a different server? So test the entire system,
multiple virtual servers are using the same network                not just whether the files restore properly.
interface card and network connection.
                                                                   10. Set up routine file restoration as a help desk
“Make sure that you walk through the whole chain from              function.
client, to network, to server, to tape drive to ID bottle-
necks,” says Preston. “You may be surprised to find                It doesn't take a high level of expertise to restore
that the bottleneck is Gb Ethernet to the tape drive.              someone's accidentally deleted Word file.
Tape drives are often too fast for the network inter-
face.”                                                             “It is important to push as much of the restoration func-
                                                                   tion to the help desk so storage professionals can work
6. Minimize the number of backup products.                         on improving levels of service,” says Robert L.
                                                                   Stevenson, Managing Director, Storage, for TheInfoPro,
There can be advantages to using a best-of-breed                   Inc. in New York City. “That will give you more flexibility
product for a particular type of server, but make sure             to handle growth and address areas where there are
those advantages outweigh the cost and time of sup-                inadequate backups.” I
porting multiple products.

7. Use multiple layers of protection, where appropri-

“Depending on the business value, time sensitivity, and
criticality of the data involved we apply different back-
up methods,” says Dan Funchion, senior manager of IT
Infrastructure/Operations for SunGard Availability
Services, who is responsible for backing up or replicat-
ing 30TB of data daily. “In many cases we will imple-
ment multiple solutions for the same data sets (for
example, remote replication combined with tape back-

3                                                 Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                            [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]

                        Getting Backup Right
                                                      By Henry Newman

                                                                      started to gather their backup requirements and then

  was recently at a customer site working to architect a
  backup solution for a large environment that contained              their restoration requirements.
  scientific data. At this site, a majority of the data is under
hierarchical storage management (HSM) control, but depart-            The discussion led to some detailed information on
mental network-attached storage servers for home directo-             which machines were critical servers and which
ries and smaller site-specific tasks were not being backed            machines were not. We determined that the service
up.                                                                                               agreement with the hardware
                                                                                                  vendor determined whether a
The customer and I started                                                                        machine was critical or not. If
talking, and I realized that                                                                      they have four-hour hardware
both of us were approaching                                                                       response around the clock,
the backup problem back-                                                                          then it was a critical machine,
wards. We were looking at the                                                                     and if a machine was next-day
problem from the reference                                                                        hardware service on weekdays
point of how to back up the                                                                       only, then it was not critical. I
data, which is the wrong                                                                          asked what their service-level
approach. The problem with                                                                        agreements with the user
looking at things from the                                                                        community were for software
backup side first is that you                                                                     restoration, including the
might wind up planning an                                                                         operating system and user
architecture that cannot sup-                                                                     data in the event of a disaster.
port your restoration policy.                                                                     The customer had not thought
So let's explore the reasons                                                                      about how fast they had to
why I think restoration is the most important thing that              restore the data.
needs to be planned, and some of the issues involved
in planning and creating a restore policy.                            It dawned on me that the issue was not backup time,
                                                                      but the time it would take to restore the data. Backup
Gathering Requirements                                                is pretty easy — you can buy software from a variety of
                                                                      companies that can deal with big and small backup and
I'm a big believer in gathering requirements at the start             restore problems, but the hardware and other software
of the process. When I was visiting this customer, I                  that is needed to restore the environment and meet

    The problem with looking at things from the backup side first is that you might wind up
             planning an architecture that cannot support your restoration policy.

4                                                              ”
                                                     Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                           [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
the expectation of the organization for coming back                The key to all of these network issues is bandwidth and
after a disaster are far more difficult. We have all delet-        latency. If you have a large amount of data, you are
ed a file that we wanted to get back, so you need to               going to need a large amount of bandwidth to support
consider not only the restoration of the system, but the           the backup process. If you have many users that are
process within the software for restoring a single file.           active when you are using large amounts of network
Gathering requirements for restoring data should                   bandwidth, you have the potential for a significant
address two issues:                                                latency problem for the user community. Add to this
                                                                   what happens if a machine needs to be restored in the
    • How are you going to restore the operating system            middle of the day, and you could affect the whole busi-
    and what are the expectations for how long this will           ness by using up all of the available network bandwidth
    take?                                                          for the restore.
    • How much user data will need to be restored and
    what are the expectations for how long this will take?         Understanding the network topology and usage pat-
                                                                   terns and the impact that both an inopportune restore
I once worked with a customer that wanted to use                   and your standard backup will have must be consid-
backup and restore for a critical system that required             ered. Sooner or later you will have to do a restore at
99.995 percent uptime. I told them that it would be                the worst possible time. If this is a critical business
impossible to get the 4TB of data restored in the                  issue, then you need to consider an architecture con-
required time frame without hundreds of tape drives.               cept we often use called "Engineering to Peak." What
Once they understood the technology issues, they                   this means is that you develop an architecture with a
changed from backup/restore to HSM because it met                  set of worst-case scenarios in mind. These scenarios are
their operational requirements better — with the HSM               documented and agreed to by all parties.
system, they could get back online faster even though
all of the data was not available on the primary storage.          A good example might be that you use four-trunked
The customer determined that not all the data was                  GigE for your network interface to the backup/restore
needed when the system was booted. A complete                      system to meet your required restoration time. As part
understanding of the service-level agreements you                  of this architecture, you have a single GigE as a hot
have with the users is one of the first and most impor-            standby in case one of the four GigEs fails. If two GigEs
tant steps for the architectural planning process.                 fail, you cannot meet your restore service-level agree-
                                                                   ment. Since the chance of two failing are very low, as
Some of the areas that must be planned are:                        long as this is documented and you have "engineered
  • Network configuration                                          to peak," you have met your service-level agreement
  • The number of incremental backups compared to                  with management because everyone agreed that the
  full backups                                                     failure of two GigEs was not planned.
  • The backup medium.
                                                                   Incremental and Full Backups
Network Configuration                                              Incremental backups allow the backup process to take
As part of the architecture process, the architect must            far less time, but they lengthen the restoration process.
consider a numbers of areas of network architecture. I             As part of the backup and restoration planning process,
am assuming that you are not doing a backup for each               you need to determine how much time you have to
machine with a separate tape drive, but a network                  restore a machine. Given that information, you can plan
backup for a group of machines. Some of the network                how many incremental backups you can have before
issues include:                                                    you have to do a full backup. Remember to include
   • How much data will be backed up and at what                   tape pick, load, position, rewind, unload, and robot
   intervals?                                                      placement of tape as part of this time calculation.
   • What is the current and planned network infrastruc-
   ture?                                                           Backup Medium
   • What is the current and expected excess capacity
   available for backups?                                          What is the backup medium? For the most part, tape is
                                                                   still the backup medium of choice. MAID technology,

5                                                 Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                         [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
or massive array of inactive disks, is being used more          Conclusions
and more in the large environment backup market.
One of the tradeoffs with MAID is that the MAID ven-            Architecting for backup correctly means basing your
dors do not currently support hardware compression,             architecture on your restore requirements. Those
which tape drives support. Of course, your compres-             requirements will often vary for each machine in an
sion mileage may vary depending on data type.                   environment, depending on how critical they are for
                                                                your business. What many organizations' IT depart-
Whatever technology you use, it is important to ensure          ments do is set up a set of services for all the machines
that the technology is cost-effective and meets your            in the environment. This is often based on the hard-
performance requirements. Having lower-cost DLT                 ware maintenance plans for the machines, since this is
drives, compared to higher-cost drives from the likes of        often a very good measure of the criticality of a
IBM and StorageTek, might not make sense when you               machine.
consider that the compression of the drive and the
higher performance allow you to have fewer drives,              Whatever you decide, it's important to look at the
fewer tapes and potentially a smaller robot.                    restore requirements first before you consider the back-
                                                                up issues. You will need to test your restoration time at
There are no simple answers because without good                least once a year to make sure that the process works
                                                                as planned, but we'll save that topic for another col-
                                                                umn. I
knowledge of your requirements, your data and the
compressibility of that data, making decisions in this
area is difficult. Add to this that some backup packages
have the option of compression within the backup soft-
ware, and you have a very confusing situation. The only
way to figure this out is through real-world data.

6                                              Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                         [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]

                           Backup Strategies
                                                By Mike Harwood

                                                                ing with the backup window.

  t is certainly not news to say that the amount of
  electronically stored data is growing. It's because of
  this increase in storage space requirements and the           Dealing with Shrinking Backup
trend toward data centralization that our backup solu-
tions must scale to SAN and NAS storage demands in
terms of speeds, reliability, and security. Because of          A backup window refers to the time it takes to com-
the importance backups                                                                  plete a given backup. This
play in the design and                                                                  backup window is deter-
implementation of a storage                                                             mined by both the amount
strategy, they must be care-                                                            of data that must be backed
fully considered.                                                                       up and by the speed of the
                                                                                        network infrastructure that
As we know, a backup is                                                                 handles the data. For some
simply a copy of electronic                                                             organizations, the backup
data that is used as a means                                                            window doesn't present any
of recovery should the data                                                             real problems. Such organi-
become lost, corrupted, or                                                              zations typically have the
compromised. Though the                                                                 ability to complete data
definition of a backup may                                                              backups in the off hours
be straightforward, the actu-                                                           without running into produc-
al implementation of a stor-                                                            tion time.
age backup solution can be
a difficult task that encom-                                                                  However, as the amount of
passes many obvious and                                                                       data grows, so too does the
not so obvious considera-                                                                     time it takes to perform the
tions.                                                          backup, and soon backups will run into production
                                                                time. Further, many organizations today do not have
Lets explore some of the factors to consider when               an off hours period — they require network access
implementing a backup solution for a storage area               24/7, leaving a very small or even nonexistent backup
network, starting with one consideration that dates             window.
back to the origin of the Local Area Network — deal-

    Because of the importance backups play in the design and implementation of a storage
                         strategy, they must be carefully considered.

7                                                        ”
                                               Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                          [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
                                                                    The Data Pileup: Save
There are many ways to address the backup window

                                                                    Money or Save Data?
issue, and the one chosen will depend on the needs
of the organization, budgets, and of course the

amount of data that must be backed up. Some of the
methods used for operating within a backup window                   By Judy Mottl
include using differential and incremental backups,
snapshots, hardware and infrastructure upgrades, and                      iven how cheap storage has become, it's
potentially modifying the network backup design                           understandable enterprises are expanding
                                                                          arrays to house growing data. But stocking
                                                                    up on hardware and software to hold more and
using server-free and LAN-free backups.
                                                                    more information is a costly misstep, according to a
Backup Alternatives                                                 Gartner report.

                                                                    New regulations and legal concerns are likely
Starting at the beginning, some of the oldest methods
of dealing with the backup window are using incre-                  prompting IT to keep every bit and byte of data just
mental or differential backups instead of regularly per-            in case some litigation issue arises, and since stor-
forming full backups. Before designing a backup solu-               age costs are decreasing, the urge to push another
tion with these methods, it's important to first have a             box into play can be tempting.
solid understanding of backups in general and what
                                                                    The problem is that data growth will very quickly
                                                                    outpace the savings in storage, according to Whit
each of the alternatives is designed to do.
                                                                    Andrews, an analyst at Gartner.
A full backup saves all directories and files, and while
it might sound ideal to perform a full backup every                 "It's time for companies to modernize storage
time we back up our data, the backup window often                   strategies and understand how information access
prevents this. Because of the time and media space a                technology can be a good tool for making sure they
full backup can take, they are often restricted to a                need what they're keeping," Andrews told
weekly or monthly schedule, although the increasing       

                                                                    According to Gartner, the highest reported price in
speed and capacity of backup media is making nightly
                                                                    the first quarter of this year for managed storage
full backups a much more realistic proposition, even
for those with hundreds of gigabytes of data.                       was $12.50 per gigabyte per month, and the lowest
                                                                    was $0.29 per gigabyte per month for archive stor-
Full backups, if you have the time to perform them,                 age needs.
offer the ultimate in data protection. In effect, a single
                                                                    A recent survey of Gartner clients reported that
                                                                    none expected its storage budget to decrease this
tape, or set of tapes, can provide the ability to com-
                                                                    year, and that 67 percent expected the budget for
pletely resurrect a server to its current state. Full back-
                                                                    storage hardware to increase. Of those polled, 64
ups are not, however, without their drawbacks; one of
which is security-related. Each tape contains an entire             percent also expected storage software costs to
copy of the data on a given server. If the tape were to             increase as well.
be stolen, the thief would then have an entire copy of
the data.                                                           Just a quick look at backup storage provides a clear
                                                                    view of how storage costs are decreasing. Prices
                                                                    dropped by about 30 percent from 2006 to 2008,
The Incremental Backup                                              according to Gartner.

                                                                    But then cheap storage isn't really cheap when
The incremental backup provides a much faster
                                                                    additional management costs and increased power
method of backing up data than a full backup. During
                                                                    and cooling costs are factored in.
an incremental backup only the files that have
changed since the last full or incremental backup are
included. Because of this, the time it takes to conduct             Enterprises that choose to retain everything run
the backup may be a fraction of the time it takes to                the risk of significant future costs, Gartner report-
perform a full backup. To determine whether a file has              ed. Also, the longer information is saved, the hard-
                                                                    er it is to discern value, according to the survey.
changed since the last full backup, the backup soft-
ware checks a setting known as the 'archive bit.'

8                                                Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                         [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
                                                                  Information-Access tools
When a file is changed in any way or copied from one
area of the disk to another, the archive bit is set to            Companies need to create a clear distinction on
indicate that, at the next scheduled backup, the file             which data should be saved on primary storage and
needs to be copied or archived. Full backups do not               what data should be housed on cheaper secondary
concern themselves with whether or not the archive                storage, as the costs vary greatly in terms of hard-
bit is set before backing a file up, but they do clear            ware and software.

                                                                  Gartner provided a scenario, using a rough estimate
the bit after the file has been copied to tape. Any files
                                                                  of $5 per gigabyte for backup storage and a genera-
that then change have the archive bit set, indicating
that they need to be backed up again.                             tion rate of 10 gigabytes per employee per year. A
                                                                  5,000-worker company faces annual costs of $1.25
Unlike differential, which does not clear the archive bit         million for five years of storage with those finan-
after copying a file, incremental backups clear the bit           cials. Cutting the amount of data by 80 percent
                                                                  could save about $1 million for five years and lower
                                                                  the organization's liability, noted the report.
so that unless the file changes again, it does not get
backed up unnecessarily. The use of the archive bit
                                                                  Information-access technologies include a wide
also allows you to visually see which files do need to
be backed up.                                                     range of tools such as enterprise search, content
                                                                  analytics, and social search. Integration and deploy-
The convenience of quicker backup times comes with                ment typically require some expertise, such as an
a price — in this case, the restore time. When restor-            information architect, to get the tools in place and
ing from an incremental backup, you need the most                 working well, Andrews explained. And it's not
                                                                  cheap, either, as products can range from $10,000 to
                                                                  millions for advanced applications.
recent full backup as well as every incremental backup
since the last full backup. For example, if you were
                                                                  Still, companies can offset the costs through stor-
doing a full backup Friday and incrementals on
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and the server                    age savings, as well as benefits from improved busi-
crashes Thursday morning, you would need four tapes               ness processes.
— Friday's full backup and the incremental backups
for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.                               The first step, according to Gartner, is to initiate
                                                                  and develop a content valuation process. "This is
                                                                  determining what's important to keep and how a
The Differential Backup                                           company decides what to keep," explained Andrews.

                                                                  "It means establishing criteria on what data is to be
Differential and incremental backups often get con-
                                                                  stored, where and why," he added. "Cheap storage is
fused, but there's a clear distinction between the two.
                                                                  expensive when it's storing data that doesn't need to
Whereas incremental backs up all the modified files
since the last full or incremental backup, differential           be stored," he noted.
backups offer a middle ground by backing up all the
files that have changed since the last full backup.               A good best practice is establishing a content-valua-
Restoring differential backups is a faster process as             tion policy on legacy data and making sure what's
only two tapes are needed — the last full backup and              stored requires that storage investment.

                                                                  While some enterprises are using information-
the latest differential.
                                                                  access technologies, the majority isn't at this point,
Differential backups work well in environments that               according to the research firm. But sooner or later
have a reasonably large window to conduct backups                 companies will realize the waste taking place in
and that have the capacity to do so. In the case of dif-          storage and the costs of retaining data that has no
ferential backups, they work by looking for files that            value, Andrews said.

                                                                  He adds, "Is what you're storing on tape valuable at
have the archive bit set, and then back up only those
                                                                  this point, because if it's not, then you don't need it."
As stated above, because differential backups copy
any data that has changed since the last full backup,
which would have cleared the archive bit, it does not

9                                               Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                         [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
change the state of the bit. The upside of this                 (PITR) image as a read-only file system that you can
approach is that only two tapes are needed to effect a          then easily recover individual files from. According to
complete restore. The downside is that at each differ-          Darcy Buskermolen, a network administrator from
ential backup, there's a high probability that some             Wavefire Technologies:
data (that which has changed since the last full back-
up but not since the last differential) will be backed          "The frozen point in time image is extremely useful
up more than once.                                              when it comes to being able to back up databases,
                                                                allowing you to make a perfect backup of the data-
Synthetic Full Backup                                           base without needing any sort of maintenance win-
                                                                dow, thereby increasing your product/application
One final backup method worth mentioning is the                 accessibility uptime, as well as providing you with the
synthetic full backup. Synthetic full backups are used          reassurance that you are better protected from both
when the backup window is too small for the other               system failure and user mishaps.
options. In a synthetic full backup, information is
taken from a full backup and the differential or incre-         "I recently used snapshots to recover from a botched
mental to create a new full backup tape. This allows a          system upgrade that without them would have result-
full backup to be created offline, allowing the network         ed in 100s of hours of customer downtime, a sleep-
to continue to function without any performance                 less night spent restoring files from the full and incre-
degradation or disruption to network users.                     mental backups, and the usual barrage of phone calls
                                                                complaining of downtime," continues Buskermolen.
File System Snapshots
As data continues to grow and our backup windows                Volume Shadow Copy Technology in
continue to shrink, new technologies are needed to              Windows Server 2003
augment what we can do with the previously men-
tioned backup methods. In the latest UNIX versions,             Windows Server 2003 introduced its own snapshot
we have a strategy called file system snapshots.                technology known as Volume Shadow Copy
                                                                Technology (VSCT). The basic function of VSCT is
A file system snapshot is a frozen image or picture of          threefold: applications can continue to write data to
a file system at a given instant of time. Snapshots             the volume during a backup; files that are open are
allow for many important features, including the abili-         no longer omitted during a backup; and backups can
ties to provide:                                                be performed at any time, without locking out users
                                                                or having to worry about the backup window.
  • Backups of the file system at several times during
  the day without needing large amounts of addition-            VSCT allows you to create shadow copy backups of
  al storage media                                              volumes — exact point-in-time copies of files, includ-
                                                                ing all open files. For example, databases that are
  • A way to perform file system integrity checks on a          continually held open and files that are open due to
  running and changing file system in an effort to              operator or system activity are backed up during a
  reclaim lost blocks                                           volume shadow copy backup. In this way, files that
                                                                have changed during the backup window are copied
  •Perhaps most importantly, reliable off media back-           correctly.
  ups without the need for long backup windows.
                                                                LAN-Free and Server-Free Backups
File system snapshots offer system administrators the           Let's review two types of network designs and how
freedom to create reliable backups of their systems             they impact backup traffic.
without needing to shut down running applications for
fear of data on disk changing while the backup is hap-          When designing a network, careful consideration must
pening. Some vendor implementations of snapshots                be given to the location of backup devices, as their
have the ability to mount this Point In Time Recovery           physical placement on a network has both perform-

10                                             Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                         [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
ance and security implications. In a traditional network        cost and management. Maintaining a large number of
design, a backup device is located on the same seg-             decentralized tape drives and media became difficult
ment as all of the other network devices.                       and inefficient. This lead to the development of soft-
                                                                ware that allowed designated servers to act as central-
As you might imagine, there are both advantages and             ized storage devices. While this approach allowed
disadvantages to this approach. When network                    backups to be managed from a central location, it
devices are on the same segment as the backup                   also meant that all backup traffic had to travel over
device, it's relatively easy to configure all network           the LAN to the backup server.
devices, including workstations, to back up to the
backup device. It’s also a low-cost solution, as backup         In many environments, this can still be an effective
devices can be added to a segment without major                 backup design as long as the LAN can support the
changes to the network infrastructure.                          amount of traffic that the backups generate. However,
                                                                in many of today's modern environments, the amount
However, because the backup device is on the same               of backup traffic that must cross the LAN is simply too
segment, there's a greater security risk, as worksta-           great for the LAN regardless of the LAN technology
tions may be able to directly access the backup serv-           used. The solution in this case is to take the data off
er. Furthermore, if backup devices are located on the           of the LAN.
same segment, the volume of backup data being
transferred can negatively impact the speed of the              The LAN-Free Backup Solution
network. This is why backups are often performed in
the off hours to prevent impacting network users.               A LAN-free backup solution allows you to use a stor-
                                                                age area network (SAN) to create a shared, central-
                                                                ized backup and recovery point. It offers the manage-
Removing Backup from the LAN                                    ment capabilities of a centralized backup solution
For those organizations that transfer huge amounts of           while at the same time also delivering the perform-
backup traffic, there is another option — physically            ance of distributed backup solutions. LAN-free back-
remove the backup device from the LAN. In this sce-             ups take the backup traffic off of the LAN by using
nario, the backup device is located on a dedicated              dedicated links to network servers with centralized
Fibre Channel segment. This network design is typi-             storage devices.
cally more secure, as access from Ethernet network
devices can be limited and controlled by the storage            Each server maintaining data that must be backed up
or network administrator.                                       requires a Fibre Channel adapter that connects to a
                                                                Fibre Channel hub or switch. The hub or switch is con-
Perhaps the greatest benefit of removing the backup             nected to a tape library or disk array.
device from the production LAN is in performance.
LAN bandwidth is preserved for the production net-              In this configuration, a single server or server cluster
work, and backups can be performed at any time                  can act as the central backup point for all servers on
without impacting users.                                        the network. All backup traffic travels through dedicat-
                                                                ed high-speed links, reducing the load on the regular
On the downside, when backup traffic is taken off the           LAN links and all but eliminating the limitations of the
regular LAN and placed on a high-speed alternative,             backup window.
it can be costly in terms of both dollars and adminis-
trative overhead. However, when in place, it provides           The Server-Free Backup Solution
the ability to provide two unique backup strategies: a
LAN-free backup and a server-free backup.                       LAN-free backups increase backup speeds and cen-
                                                                tralize management, but what if it were possible to
In early storage development, a common backup                   take backups one step further and transfer backup
strategy was to have backups performed to locally               data directly from disk to tape without using a server?
attached tape devices. For larger network environ-              This option is known as a server-free backup.
ments, this approach had two significant drawbacks —            When we talk about a server-free backup, we are

11                                             Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                         [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
referring to a process where the backup data path               there isn't the space in this article to fully explore the
does not go through a server. While a server is need-           tape vs. hard disk debate, we can say that in most
ed to control the overall process and maintain the              environments, tape is still the leader. While hard disks
backup software, data is passed between disk and                are able to store and retrieve data faster than tape
backup library without requiring a server's CPU. This           and provide real-time transmissions, tape media is the
frees server resources to be used elsewhere on the              clear choice in terms of better portability and security.
production LAN.                                                 While hard disk transfers may be faster, newer tape
                                                                devices are able to transfer large amounts of data at
There are several advantages to implementing a serv-            reasonable speeds.
er-free backup solution, including offloading traffic
from the LAN, reducing the load on server system                Tape backups do have some drawbacks, including a
resources, and high-speed data transfer. As with most           shorter media and drive lifetime than their hard disk
areas of technology, though, there are also a few               counterparts. Hard disks, however, are often viewed
drawbacks. A server-free backup solution is more cost-          as a security vulnerability point, as data on the hard
ly and complex to design and manage, and when                   disk can be live and accessible to the network. Still, if
something goes wrong, they can be very difficult to             the backup window for a network is a real concern
troubleshoot.                                                   and time is critical, a combination of tape and hard
                                                                disk backups may be the solution.
Other Backup Alternatives
                                                                In summary, coping with the issue of the backup win-
While a LAN-free or server-free backup solution may             dow can be a costly endeavor for an organization. As
be the answer to eliminating the backup window                  the traffic generated by backups continues to grow,
issue, they are often too costly for many organizations         solutions will be needed that can handle the load
to implement. This can lead to rather creative meth-            without disruption to the production LAN. While some
ods of increasing the speed of the backup process or            band-aid solutions, such as hard disk backups, may
working within limited backup windows.                          buy some time, the trend is certainly toward taking
                                                                the backup traffic off of the LAN. I
One method that keeps surfacing is replacing tape
with hard disks, as backups to disks are faster. While

12                                             Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                         [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]

     Finding a Disaster Recovery
 Solution That Won’t Break the Bank
                                                   By Drew Robb

                                                                Cost or Complacency?
  t's been observed throughout human history that
  you generally have to get kicked in the teeth before
                                                                The situation isn't solely based on complacency. Many
  you see value in the art of self-defense. It certainly
                                                                of the companies involved want to be able to recover
seems to be true in the case of disaster recovery,
                                                                rapidly in the face of an event. But they just can't afford
where vendors experience far more interest in their
                                                                it. Say you wanted to set up a large-scale back-
DR wares immediately following events such as 9/11,
                                                                up/recovery architecture such as that used by
Hurricane Katrina, floods, and tornadoes.
                                                       Salesforce has to have the type of
                                                                                                 backup and DR platform
"We see spikes of interest
                                                                                                 that doesn't lose a single
from time to time when an
                                                                                                 transaction no matter what
event occurs, and that does
                                                                                                 happens. That takes a total
drive more communication
                                                                                                 of nine copies of the data,
with our customers," said
                                                                                                 each with different recovery
Brian Regan of IBM's infor-
                                                                                                 points for failure. The com-
mation protection services
                                                                                                 pany's complex array of
                                                                                                 tape libraries, disk arrays,
                                                                                                 servers, and databases cost
A recent study by
                                                                                                 around $20 million.
Aberdeen Group found
                                                                                                 Continuous data protection
that 34 percent of compa-
                                                                                                 (CDP) is achieved via regu-
nies have yet to implement
                                                                                                 lar shadow images of pro-
any kind of DR solution. Of
                                                                                                 duction data shared
the remaining 66 percent,
                                                                                                 between mirrored SANs on
25 percent don't perform
                                                                                                 separate coasts. Oracle
regular disaster plan tests.                                                       Jupiterimages
                                                                                                 databases are also continu-
And when you get down into the SME sector, Jeffrey
                                                                ously protected. Other scenarios are deployed ranging
Hill, an analyst with Aberdeen Group, reported that
                                                                from four hours to recover all the way to 48 hours for
nearly half of those in the 100 to 1,000-employee cate-
                                                                less critical systems.
gory don't have a BC/DR plan in place.
                                                                Of course, not everyone needs that level of protection.

          A recent study by Aberdeen Group found that 34 percent of
           companies have yet to implement any kind of DR solution.

13                                                       ”
                                               Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                          [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
Accordingly, multiple degrees of DR have evolved,                  "Prior to the bunker, we had a lot of equipment for
ranging from the "Remain live or die" category through             component failure and documented plans for a site dis-
more prioritized approaches on down to economy class.              aster, although it would have been a lengthy process
                                                                   had we lost our data center," said Jim Thomas, Pella's
Let's look at what may be considered basic -- some                 director of IT operations.
kind of regular backups occurring along with a plan to
recover systems and data within a reasonable time. It's            HP supplied its StorageWorks XP24000 arrays, one at
important to differentiate these two.                              each of the two data centers. Both systems are inter-
                                                                   connected using Fibre Channel to replicate continuous-
"It's hard to imagine that a company wouldn't have a               ly between the two locations. The bunker is hardened
data backup system, but just backing up data alone                 to protect against tornadoes, and it has the ability to
doesn't constitute a disaster recovery strategy," said             run all vital systems if the primary data center is
Hill.                                                              destroyed.

Yet as the Aberdeen numbers prove, many don't make                 That effort took several years and multiple millions to
it beyond backup to the point of instituting some kind             establish. But you don't necessarily have to spend in
of DR plan. And on the other extreme, you have those               that order of magnitude to protect your systems.
who are so fed up with the hassles of backup technolo-             Lipscomb & Pitts Insurance LLC, based in Memphis,
gy that they have implemented DR without any kind of               went the appliance route. This type of solution fits best
underlying backup setup.                                           for SMBs or organizations that are shorthanded, or for
                                                                   larger organizations that don't want to bring in further
The Department of Consumer Affairs of the City of                  DR/storage expertise.
New York, for instance, uses StorageX from Brocade
specifically for DR. Its main office in Manhattan stores           Lipscomb & Pitts purchased the appliance from
data on an EMC Celerra NS500 NAS box. Its other                    STORServer of Colorado Springs. The company's vice
major site in Queens has another NAS filer. Users at               president of finance, Mike Yates, said the move wasn't
Queens actually write to the EMC box and then every-               prompted by the experience of a particular event.
thing at Manhattan is replicated to Queens using                   "You do not know when a disaster will happen, so you
Microsoft DFS. Brocade StorageX aggregates the file                have to make contingency arrangements," he said. "If
data into one logical file system. If Manhattan goes               you lose your data, your business shuts down and you
down, users are directed to Queens automatically.                  cannot serve your clients."

So confident was the IT department that it conducted               The 100-employee company uses a combination of
the ultimate test -- unplugging the EMC box in the                 EVault InfoStage and EVault InfoStage DualVault from
middle of a workday. Even more surprisingly, the                   Seagate, all operated by masterIT, an IT managed serv-
department does not even use a regular backup sys-                 ices firm from Tennessee. It looks after Lipscomb &
tem. It relies on this DR set up to safeguard all its data.        Pitts' backup/recovery and IT operations. Over 250 GB
"When we tested it, everything worked beautifully,"                is backed up each night.
said Matthew Miller, the department's LAN administra-
tor. "The system failed over to the secondary location             Yates says bunkers, massive automated tape libraries,
and users didn't notice a thing."                                  and expensive replication gear are fine for large enter-
                                                                   prises companies, but are out of the question for many
Bunker Mentality                                                   SMEs.

At the other end of the spectrum comes Pella Corp., a              "For a fraction of that cost, we're just as prepared and
manufacturer of windows and doors based in Iowa. It                didn't have to pay an arm and a leg," he said. "It's a
runs its business on Oracle E-Business Suite applica-              comfort knowing the data is going out every night to a
tions and Oracle Database 10g using a centralized                  different region in a way that is largely transparent to
architecture. It also deployed a remote data center for            our staff."
recovery known as the bunker.

14                                                Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                        [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
No Time to Waste                                               Schulz suggested that small and mid-sized businesses
                                                               look to protect essential and time sensitive material
There are many different strategies and technologies           with the lowest RTO/RPO they can afford while looking
that can be employed when it comes to DR, all at dif-          at how to leverage different RPOs and RTOs for other
ferent price points. The choices made are often based          data.
upon the cost of achieving various recovery point
objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO).           Whatever DR scheme is required, though, it should be
                                                               deployed sooner rather than later.
"If you have an unlimited budget and resources, an
RTO and RPO of zero or close to it would be great,"            "SMBs cannot wait until a disaster of company-ending
said Greg Schulz, senior analyst and founder of                proportions occurs before allocating the resources to
StorageIO Group. "But in reality land for many environ-        do this right," said Aberdeen's Hill. I
ments, implementing the right tier of protection to
applicable threat risks is a means to maximize budgets
and spending."

15                                            Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                           [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]

                      Small Businesses Turn
                       to Online Backup
                                                     By Drew Robb

         nline backup seems to be all the rage as of
         late. Vendors are springing up either catering           "It's still a relatively smallish market, but with lots of
         to a specific niche or claiming to do every-             opportunity for growth in the SMB space," she said.
thing for next to nothing. While such services aren't             "More vendors continue to enter this market."
likely to attract enterprise users, they are certainly lur-
ing many SMBs. All you have to do is sign up, decide              What's Out There?
which files to backup, set a schedule and your files are
                                                                  There are lots of online backup options out there. For
automatically backed up daily.
                                                                                          those with only a few staffers
                                                                                          and a small amount of data to
But the online backup market
                                                                                          back up, a simple service like
isn't just attracting small start-
                                                                                 (recently purchased
ups. The big boys, too, are
                                                                                          by Symantec) is sufficient. I use
rolling out inexpensive services
                                                                                          this and it costs about $50 a
aimed squarely at the SMB
                                                                                          year for my relatively modest
                                                                                          needs. Any new files or
                                                                                          changed files are backed up
"Enterprise DR market growth
                                                                                          each day. Any time I've needed
is stalling, so vendors are look-
                                                                                          something, I've been able to
ing for ways to reach new mar-
                                                                                          recover it in seconds.
ket segments," said Laura
DuBois, an analyst at
                                                                                   from EMC is another
International Data Corp. (IDC).
                                                                                            such service. According to
"Online backup services are                                                   Jupiterimages
                                                                                            Vance Checketts, the company's
particularly attractive to the SMB market, as this meets
                                                                  COO and vice president of products, it signed up more
some of their unique needs."
                                                                  than 6,000 businesses customers in eight months.
So sudden is the upsurge in online backup that IDC
                                                                  "Businesses are realizing the only way to ultimately pro-
does not yet monitor it as a separate category. The
                                                                  tect corporate data from permanent loss is to store an
analyst firm has no idea how much the of the $2.68 bil-
                                                                  additional copy off site," said Checketts. "They recog-
lion data protection and recovery market is taken up by
                                                                  nize that it's more cost effective for them to outsource
online backup. But DuBois said IDC is working right
                                                                  their backup and archive services than it is to build the
now on sizing it.

     But the online backup market isn't just attracting small startups. The big boys, too, are
              rolling out inexpensive services aimed squarely at the SMB market.

16                                                         ”
                                                 Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.
                         [ Developing a Storage Backup Strategy ]
infrastructure and hire the team to manage backups in-           Kozma suggests several tips to help SMBs select an
house."                                                          appropriate vendor: provides up to 2 GB free, and unlimited                    • The transferred data need to be encrypted and
space for $4.95 per month. This allows business cus-                compressed before transmission
tomers to restore files by downloading them from the                • The online backup and data recovery practices of
Mozy Web site or by ordering a DVD with next-day air                the online backup company should be verified to
shipping.                                                           determine if they store SMB data securely
                                                                    • Recovery times must be rapid, on the other hand, is focused mainly               • On-site professional help should be available when-
on mid-size SMBs. Online backup costs a little under                ever requested at an affordable rate
$50 per month. But the company prefers to offer more                • Open files should be backed up
sophistication to those that require it.                            • Many versions of files should be saved online, as
                                                                    opposed to only the last saved version
"We provide general network planning, maintenance                   • The online backup client software should verify the
and trouble-shooting for these businesses beside the                sent data for its correctness.
online backup service," said Attila Kozma, president of "It helps us to create the most accu-           "SMBs are aware of the necessity of backing up their
rate and efficient backup regimen for their needs that           company data, but it is rarely done properly," said
won't leave any chance for failure."                             Kozma. "The main thing that is usually missing is the
                                                                 understanding of what needs to be backed up and
Remote Backup Systems (RBS) of Memphis, Tenn.,                   where it is safe to store those data."
boasts more than 1.5 million clients in 68 countries. Its
Rbackup software has mirroring capabilities that can             Cosgrove agrees with the above points, and stresses
automatically back up RBS server data to a secondary             reliability, security, file versioning, good scheduling,
location, message-level support for live Microsoft               automation, compression and strong encryption as nec-
Exchange databases, multiple-instance support for live           essary components of a good online backup solution
SQL databases and automatic remote updates to the                for any SMB, regardless of size.
RBackup client software. RBS CEO Rob Cosgrove is dis-
missive of lower-cost services.                                  "Depending on the type of business, there may also be
                                                                 a need for assistance with compliance regulations like
"Services like Carbonite and Mozy are inadequate for             HIPAA, for archiving, and for data discovery," he said.
SMBs because of several factors, including the slow              I
speed of backups, the cumbersome restore method,
the lack of built-in agents to properly back up                  This content was adapted from's
Exchange, SQL Server and Lotus Notes," said                      Enterprise Storage Forum, Enterprise IT Planet, and
Cosgrove. "Our RBackup software was designed from                InternetNews Web sites. Contributors: Drew Robb,
the ground up for SMBs. Other services that are ade-             Mike Harwood, Henry Newman, and Paul Shread.
quate for SMBs include Asigra and LiveVault."

How Good Is Good Enough?
How good a DR option is an online backup service for
SMBs? DuBois believes many of these services are
good enough in terms of general protection. But she
cautions that online backup service providers should be
required to serve as a partner in event of true disaster.
That means asking for more than just backing up a few
files each day.

17                                              Developing a Storage Backup Strategy, an Storage eBook. © 2008, Jupitermedia Corp.

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