It is perhaps impossible to predict all of the possible failures and/or catastrophic events when it comes to data in the modern world. Each and every business should do their best to protect against losing their data, which, if a significant amount was lost, would likely mean either starting from scratch or even suffering fatal damage to the company. To prevent such catastrophic events, there are specific systems that exist; called enterprise backup systems.
Enterprise backup on its own can be easily defined as a regular backup but with bigger scope (working with a large business, most of the time). An example of an enterprise backup system often utilizes the capabilities of both software and hardware appliances to transfer data from the primary storage to the backup location/device.
In the most rudimentary terms, the hardware is represented by the equipment that is used to store the company’s backups. Some popular examples of the hardware for enterprise backups are hard disk drives, tape drives, server networks, and so on. The software, on the other hand, is a program that manages the data transportation process from start to finish.
Due to the fact that the enterprise backup technology is also evolving with the same explosive speed as the majority of technologies in general nowadays, it’s not uncommon for enterprises to use entire data centers as their data storage/data transfer appliances. Picking up the correct enterprise backup system, both in hardware and software departments, is crucial for any company’s safety.
The basics of enterprise backup software market
It’s easy to take enterprise backup software for granted, saying that all of the solutions are basically the same. This is far from the truth however, as the enterprise backup software market has evolved to provide a wide range of options, covering many different use cases when it comes to enterprise data recovery requirements.
The main reason for an increased interest in various data backup methods is the exponential growth of the amount of data that a typical company is working with on a daily basis. That’s why a robust network infrastructure is also essential for your data backup efforts to be reliable, since transferring petabytes of data on a daily basis could paralyze some smaller infrastructures completely.
There is also the matter of a worst-case scenario, in which your primary data storage location gets completely wiped out. If there’s no secondary backup in place, then you simply lost all the data. This cannot be allowed to happen, and is what contingency plans are created for. A complete enterprise backup system is one of the most effective ways of protecting your company’s information from various problems and accidents, attacks and disasters.
Enterprise backup: tiers and scalability
The majority of enterprise backup systems are using the so-called tiered backup system. This means that there is more than one backup storage, including different storage types and different ways of transferring said data to the storage locations. This is the way that some enterprise backup software providers exploit their scalability, adding more backup servers/storage locations to handle the demand.
Scalability is a surprisingly big problem in the enterprise backup industry, since a backup platform usually needs to be prepared for explosive growth of your daily data volume. A situation where a company simply outgrows the capabilities of their backup provider is far more frequent than one might expect. It is also important for a solution to support various popular data movers – CommVault, NetBackup, Veeam, and others, so that there is no disruption in business because of one popular data mover type not being supported by the system.
Enterprise backup: data transfer and security
It is also not as easy as just moving the data from one place to another: there are two problems that immediately arise when doing this – security and bandwidth. It is more likely that the network bandwidth would become the bottleneck, rather than the backup storage itself, in these specific cases.
Of course, your data must be encrypted, both mid-transfer and at rest, to protect against someone with malicious intent intercepting said data transfer. The bandwidth problem is typically easily solvable by scheduling – generally avoiding the prime working hours and transferring data mostly at night or in the morning/evening when you do not have to have the entire network bandwidth available for your company’s actual job.
Enterprise backup: deduplication and public clouds
Expanding the upper limit of your network bandwidth is not always possible. This is why newer technologies have been developed to lessen it in some ways. Both data deduplication and compression were created for that exact purpose – to reduce the amount of data that needs to be transferred in the first place. For example, client-side deduplication capabilities can identify specific data parts that already exist within the system and have no need to be copied again. Some more advanced deduplication solutions are capable of setting the data reduction ratio up to 15:1, which is a remarkable advantage if you’re operating with petabytes of data on a regular basis.
Another backup method is to use public clouds as one of your secondary data storages. This is also likely feasible as far as it meets your RPOs and RTOs, and this can be applied to the majority of options when it comes to secondary backup storage. However, price isn’t the only thing that’s important when it comes to public clouds as your backup storage locations. There is also their ability to deduplicate, the overall data security and encryption both in mid transfer and at rest, and a number of other considerations that should be kept in mind when choosing. Trying to save yourself money on security or data storage could easily backfire, so it is important to approach this problem cautiously. The appearance of Amazon Glacier had a big impact on the overall public cloud backup market, lowering the price for 1Gb per month down to just $.01. Now companies basically have to provide the same level of security and overall service of Amazon, with the same price or lower – or risk being knocked out of the market.
Enterprise backup: centralization, modules, and redundancy
There are a few more enterprise backup-related features that are also worth mentioning. For example, the problem of data movement with multiple backup storage locations can be somewhat solved by having a centralized storage device that distributes the backup copies to other devices without inconveniencing the original data storage device. Moving data using smaller packets and using fewer channels is also useful in some cases.
Data management is another problem that needs to be addressed in the context of enterprise backup. In this case, enterprise-level backup storage essentially becomes a database, storing and fetching information with increased speed and accuracy. A lot of enterprise backup software also includes the ability to look for specific file types, specific file names, and a range of other parameters to filter with.
There’s also the fact that enterprises often need to store data from specific file systems and platforms, such as various traditional and NoSQL databases, SaaS platforms like Salesforce, all kinds of virtual machines, and so on.
With the amount of data that a typical enterprise is working with on a daily basis, it’s not uncommon for data backups to have an extremely high file/backup size. This specific problem can be partially solved by setting up redundancy settings. Different enterprise backup software appliances offer differing options so that you have many redundancy-related features, such as the number of file versions that are allowed to be saved, deleting older file copies in the process.
The challenge in choosing the best enterprise backup software for you is that the market itself is big, and you need to know your priorities to find the one most suitable for yourself and your company’s requirements.
If you are looking for a comprehensive enterprise backup solution, you may want to consider trying out Bacula Enterprise. It offers an especially large range of different features, some of which are mentioned in this article. It also delivers some less known features, such as bare metal recovery. The support for a complete range of VMs and databases is provided via plugins and modules, making Bacula especially modular, low cost and scalable - often important factors when requiring a wide range of capabilities within one single platform.