Network backup is the process of replicating and backing up all or selected data, end devices and network nodes into a single computer network. A slightly different approach to network backup considers it as a complex system that sends specific data from backup clients (single computer or an internal network) to a backup server (public or private).
It’s also not uncommon for more comprehensive network backup solutions to offer backup media management features over the network – which is almost a necessity for businesses that take advantage of network-attached storage devices (NAS).
Some of the most common network backup challenges are:
Modern network backup solutions provide the following features:
Users can restore an entire network or a certain node. Network backup can also be used to replicate and restore networked services in the case when a primary network is unavailable.
Although the purpose of network backup software systems in companies is to protect them by being able to recover data in case of disaster or information loss, its implementation does not have to be purely associated with an environment of chaos and emergency, but rather should be seen as an element of the operational platform of the organization that protects one of the most valuable resources – information. This in turn depends on integration with an even more important resource – people.
In effect, people are the main actors of the organizational processes since it is they that create, execute, manage and control them. This generates much of the information that allows the operation of the company as well as often being the basis for decision making by management and direction.
Business processes certainly generate a great amount of information, especially because of the presence of new technologies and the implementation and reuse of concepts and paradigms. These are integrated into the organizations’ environment, examples being artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things (IOT), big data, virtualization and server consolidation, among others.
For this huge diversity and potential volume of important data, it is necessary to have a tool that protects the data so that it is available in situations of partial or total losses. This backed up data would be kept in safe places, whether local or remote, whether for recoveries or in any another organizational scenario such as modeling, preparation of alternative environments, resource estimation or capacity planning. Network backup is a method of backing up the vital information when the data is flowing through local network or WAN or even FC / iSCSi protocols.
The features that network backup software solutions should have and the advantages they should offer are:
What would be the disadvantages of not having a network backup software? Of course, in addition to not having a recovery mechanism in case of loss or failure of data, there would be no contingency and this situation would likely catastrophically impact a company’s information resource.
The best network backup software seeks to evenly distribute the load and operation wherever possible among its various elements, such as servers, clients, storage devices, notifications, etc., in order to balance the workload and avoid overloading of any of these elements.
To meet the objective of protecting the information, two different schemes are used for the destination of the volumes: local and remote localities. Although they ultimately fulfill the same objective – the secure repository of backups – their use is different.
The local locations are used generally for the backup of the information of equipment located in the same physical space or in different localities, relatively easily accessible and at a close distance through a LAN network. Although this is a common property of all network backup software applications, its main use is information recovery in case of partial or total losses.
On the other hand, remote locations allow companies to have recovery mechanisms in case of situations which may not only cause loss of information, but also those that significantly affect the daily and normal operation of the whole organization as a consequence of situations that are outside of its control — such as natural disasters, thefts, infrastructure failures, among others.
A resource widely used today, is cloud storage, using different providers such as Amazon (storage S3), Microsoft (resources in Azure), Google (file systems and devices) and other cloud hosting services, both public and private. For the latter, it is vitally important to have adequate levels of security and optimization of bandwidth management.
There is a rather complicated debate in here, too – when it comes to arguing which cloud type is better. One of the bigger misconceptions in this field is that private cloud storage is always better than public, since you can manage the data security matters of the private cloud storage on your own and thus have more confidence in it. Another argument is that public cloud storage providers are not as safe as private ones.
Both of these arguments can be argued against. The existence of personal oversight over security matters for your private cloud backup storage does not equal perfect security for it in the first place. Additionally, it can also mean more expenses for the company in question, since you’ll have to manage and improve the entire system by yourself – adding all of that to the cost of owning private cloud storage in the first place.
Public cloud storage providers are also not as “public” as people claim they are, especially when it comes to security. Major public cloud storage providers tend to have complicated and extensive security systems, and a part of the reason why is that they also have the resources to install and maintain them over prolonged periods of time.
Additionally, both private and public cloud storages have their own limits when it comes to bandwidth and storage capacity. This is where the age-old topic of backup types comes in – picking the backup type for yourself. As with your old regular backup, performing a full backup of your entire system is often not efficient and can be extremely resource-consuming. This is where two other major backup types come in – incremental and differential.
The main difference between incremental and differential backups is the amount of data they’re backing up in one go. Differential backup is a backup type that copies every bit of data that has been changed since the last full backup. It is considered a middle ground between a massive full backup and a smaller incremental backup.
Incremental backup, on the other hand, copies everything that changed since the last full backup or since the last incremental backup – choosing whichever is the latest one. Each instance of incremental backup is quick and does not take a lot of space, but it can slow the recovery process since you have to have all of the incremental backups since the last full one to perform a complete recovery.
There’s also a modification of incremental backup that is extremely case-specific and is called continuous incremental backup. This one is more suitable for office environments with many files changing in a short time period – it copies newer files as a backup the moment they’re modified/created.
According to the above regarding the backup and the data’s locations, it can be seen that the network is a fundamental element to be taken into consideration since it is that which allows connection of all the elements that make up not only the operating environment, but the network backup software platform, too.
What are the typical components of an organizational network? Which are part of a backup platform?
Regarding the network backup software platform, taking into account its operation and functionality, the components are typically:
As can be appreciated, an important feature of this environment is the heterogeneity and diversity of the elements involved. According to the above, the best network backup solutions are tools that allow companies to execute the backup in an efficient, integral and reliable way of all the elements that are part of the corporate network, using diverse resources, to different locations and taking certain considerations to optimize its implementation.
Now, taking into account the concepts of network and backup applications in companies, it is important to consider that the best network backup software, besides guaranteeing the complete execution of the backups, also makes use of mechanisms to do it in an integral way, effectively and safely. Among these are:
These factors also make possible the configuration of a network disaster recovery solution, which allows companies to have mechanisms of protection before the occurrence of situations that affect the organization general operation. This is true not only in the area of technology, but in operational and administrative areas including processes and people.
In addition to these topics that refer to the technical aspects and internal management of the network backup software; as well as the mechanisms and means of transfer, we must also consider the process of operation and administration of the solution as such. This includes configuration, installation, management and notifications, etc. For this it is important to consider the following points:
Bacula Enterprise Edition as one of the best network backup software is highly adaptable to comply with its objective. Once our software is configured and adjusted to the specific requirements and processes of the organization, it becomes an asset for the business, in that it works with data, for people, maximizing the efficiency and value of these two priceless resources.
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