ITSM Daily has spent some time looking at Bacula Enterprise Edition, comparing it to other similar products on the market- and here are the results. Excerpt: “There are many backup products to choose from. Some are basic, and some are Hyper-V and VMware exclusive, others claim to be Enterprise grade but have horrible user experience…
What is network backup software? The most popular definitions and meanings of network backup solutions.
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:
- Protection of information, meaning protection not of the users’ data and processes, but also the volumes where the backups are copied, considering the protection norms and quality processes related to this topic.
- Reliability, and being able to guarantee the integral execution of all the backup and recovery operations, so that the data and information are complete and of integrity.
- Adaptability to the requirements of the company, adjusting to its growth and changes in its processes, as well as to the requirements of the actual users.
- Easy implementation in heterogeneous environments, not only of hardware but also of software, systems, processes and data management.
- Ease of use, even in complex organizational processes due to their requirements and functionalities, which allows executing and completing the activities in an agile and efficient manner. Among these processes may be: OLTP online operation, systems for the control of automated industrial processes, disaster recovery, massive data migrations, studies and test simulations, configuration and implementation of alternative data centers, etc.
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, although that will be discussed later in this article.
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?
- Equipment (servers, PCs, laptops, tablets, telephones, etc.) to connect.
- Interconnection devices, such as switches, routers, repeaters, modems, bridges, gateways, firewalls, among others.
- Physical wiring, according to the established norms of design, implementation and quality, as well as of technical standards.
Regarding the network backup software platform, taking into account its operation and functionality, the components are typically:
- Server or main node, which is responsible for defining the policy and backup scheme of different equipment configured for the organization. It is the element that manages the clients and the different locations for backup volumes, either local or remote. Likewise, it must guarantee the protection of data, both in the data backed up as well as in the process of data transfer.
- Resources for the storage management of the volumes that will contain the backups of the clients configured in the main server. This should allow managing local or remote storage devices, with the levels and guarantees of security and protection required for the information. It should also allow the management of the historical data of the backups, for analysis and study processes, for quality and management standards, compliance with the laws of authorized institutions, etc.
- The clients, who represent the equipment and devices to which the backup will be made and are configured in the backup policies in the main server of the organization.
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:
- Adequate management of bandwidth, both in LAN networks (local destinations) and in WAN networks (remote destinations).
- Compression of the data to be backed up, which makes it possible for them to be smaller, directly affecting in the reduction of packet transfer rates in the network.
- The deduplication that avoids the duplicate data writing in the backup volumes, taking as reference algorithms that operate at the hardware or software level, and can be done in the client or in the storage devices. Together with data compression, they allow to increase the performance of backup and recovery activities, as well as the saving of resources, both bandwidth and storage.
- Use of technologies that allow reducing the number and size of packets that are transferred through the network, optimizing the use of the channel, such as Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP), network storage solutions (Network Attached Storage (NAS ) and Storage Area Networks (SAN)), fiber optic networks, among others.
- Protection and security of the backed up data. Although it is important for the protection of all backup volumes, they become more important when using remote locations. For this, several resources are used, such as encryption and cipher, different algorithms, rules of access to data centers, measures for managing backup volumes, etc., which guarantee the integrity of the information, independently of where the data of the backups are.
- Execution of different types of backup, allowing optimization of the transmitted data, decreasing with this the bandwidth and the number of packets transferred to and from the clients. The network backup software integrates some of these functionalities and makes available more resources to the users and administrators of the process.
- Replication of information in different locations, which allows an increase in the levels of protection and security in the backup volumes, minimizing the risks of information loss.
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:
- Simple and user-friendly administration, both for the administrators themselves, and for the users who interact with it for consultation and management purposes.
- Existence of diverse tools and resources for the administration that in addition must run from several devices: not only in computers, as they must be multiplatform and of simple access, while also effective. Although utilities may exist to perform more complex tasks, they must retain the principle of ease of use and portability.
- Adaptability to changes and requirements of the organization, either as the result of improvements, infrastructure growth, new requirements, new implementations and / or applications, changes in the platform, among others.
- The backup solution must be an ally for the business, which is easily adapted to any change or requirement and that it must grow and adapt at the same pace as the company.
- Easy and agile integration into the cloud, using local and remote resources while getting the most out of both in its implementation.
- Plan and structure of costs that allow organizations not only to plan ahead its requirements, but to manage technological obsolescence and implement new and better technologies and / or techniques as they arise.
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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