- Security? Protection?
- Do we even have it? Does it work?
- Will it be reliable? Does it have what we want and/or need?
- How do I restore it? How long will this operation last?
- How long does it take to restore my entire system, application and/or database?
Looking into the context of the above phrases, we perceive that the main concern is reliability. This is due to the fact that when we talk about backup, we immediately associate it with information, and this is one of the fundamental and vital assets for companies , together with human capital.
The concept of backup and backup itself also generates confidence when you know that you have an application and/or implementation that executes in an automated way, and offers tools for recovery in case of data loss, intentional or otherwise. This can positively affect the operation and execution of functional processes.
In regard to this last point, it is important to emphasize that the implementation of a backup and recovery policy not only contemplates the technology and equipment part, but the preparation and implementation of rules that govern the protection of information assets of organizations. This may include documents, manuals and any element that is useful for them and can represent “operational organizational data of interest”.
For all this, it is vital to have a solution that not only performs backup activities reliably, integrally and efficiently, but also allows to do it in a simple and manageable way, as well as facilitating administration duties.
Initially, the most comprehensive business backup applications were developed and supplied by just a few suppliers. In addition, the hardware infrastructure required for these implementations sometimes required significant investment, and in some cases specific physical and/or technological adjustments which could be expensive.
Over time, new technologies, models and paradigms have appeared whose main objective is to offer safe, complete and trustworthy data backup in organizations.
One of these backup applications is IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) also named today as IBM Spectrum Protect, a business backup and archiving software which, like other products of this type, is designed to back up the data of organizations, allowing them to protect against data loss and damage. Like other backup software platforms, it enables automated backups based on policies, according to diverse criteria, of physical, virtual and cloud environments, in various versions and sizes.
Some of the functionalities that IBM TSM or Spectrum Protect has:
- Maintains a relational database as a catalog and a recovery log.
- Allows the use of varied devices for the storage of backups, including disk, file systems, units and tapes libraries, virtual libraries and resources in the cloud. IBM TSM has a functionality that allows you to automatically move data from backups as they age to lower performance storage. This is known as tiered storage or hierarchical storage management.
- Supported for several operating systems.
- Backup and recovery of virtual machines in various environments, such as Vmware and Microsoft Hyper-V.
- Handling of snapshots and archiving.
- Use of a backup scheme called “incremental progressive” or “incremental forever”, to collect the data from backups, where an initial full backup is taken and from this point all subsequent backups are incremental. Although at the time it was a unique feature of Spectrum Protect, its use has become more common over time, with the emergence of new technologies and applications.
- Implementation of NDMP for the deduplication of the data backup up, in case of having the appropriate hardware.
- Support for backup in the cloud.
- Tools and functionalities for configuration and implementation of environments for disaster recovery.
The use of new technologies and the appearance of new paradigms, such as open source, the reduction of hardware costs and storage devices, as well as the rational use of resources, have facilitated and made possible the emergence of new direct competing applications for IBM Spectrum Protect, which may have the same or better functionalities. Additionally, their ease of adaptability regarding implementation into existing environments increased adoption.
Among the features and properties offered by the alternatives to Tivoli are the following:
- Simple and friendly administration, and from a centralized point that allows to perform all management activities of backup and recovery operations. It is important to mention that these activities are executed according to specific roles and permissions for the users of the platform.
- Guarantee of execution of backup operations, in order to guarantee the integrity of the data backed up in the storage devices.
- Adaptation to heterogeneous operating environments, which include the use of resources that can be in diverse locations, whether local, remote, virtual, etc. These resources are exploited to the maximum by the alternative backup applications to Tivoli.
- Flexibility to adapt to changes in organizational requirements, which allows them to grow together with the company, and satisfy them globally.
- Execution of different levels of backup, which allow compliance with the backup policies of companies. At this point, it is worth mentioning that the alternatives to Tivoli, enable to configure and create new types that increase the performance of the infrastructure.
- Simple and agile implementation of an organization’s backup policy, not only during the initial configuration phase, but also in the execution phase that warrants a change or modification due to the emergence of new requirements or needs that imply changes in the operation. Tivoli competitors have incorporated functionalities that facilitate the execution of this activity.
- Incorporation of elements that facilitate the integration of the solution to the company’s technological infrastructure, among which are: sending notifications, friendly and easy-to-use management consoles, data catalogs of backup management, etc.
- Feasibility of storing the data backup up to different local or remote storage repositories, with well-defined security and access control criteria.
- The information generated from the operation of the backup solution can be consulted and used as input for other activities and for various purposes, such as capacity planning, strategic planning, etc.
- Use and integration of the mobile platform to the organizational backup scheme, which facilitates the management and operation of the same, according to specific security and control criteria.
- Use of the cloud for the repository of backed up information. Although Tivoli already incorporates it into its solution, Tivoli competitors allow it to configure different scenarios and with different suppliers, depending on the requirements of the companies.
As can be seen, IBM Tivoli and its alternative Tivoli competitors share many common features such as backup software, however the latter have taken advantage of and used innovative concepts of new technologies and paradigms that have driven their growth and use. Among these are:
- Use of open source as the main operating technology, which allows access to state-of-the-art technology that is constantly growing and to the community involved in the development of projects, the most serious being aimed at offering solutions to concerns and bugs that arise in the applications, with the purpose of proposing new implementations, functionalities and continuous improvements.
- Cost savings in terms of the use of resources used in the backup solution, such as agents, storage devices, unit tapes, tapes libraries, etc.
- Storage and management of the information of the organizational backups in repositories of data known as catalogs, which allows searches and specific queries using native tools and their own. Among these are MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, SQLite, etc.
- Growth capacity according to the requirements and needs of the company, derived from the operating processes or the users of the same.
- Information reference for the estimation of resources that will be used in the organizations through capacity planning studies for the technology area, as well as for the other functional processes of the organization.
- Although already mentioned above, the use of resources in the cloud has undoubtedly allowed alternative solutions to IBM TSM have emerged and remain in continuous growth, due to the multiple features and benefits it offers, such as:
- Storage of the volumes that contain the backups in remote sites, configured mostly in environments of high availability and redundancy.
- Different providers to choose from among those offering the cloud storage service, such as Amazon, Azure, Google, Microsoft and those that offer their solutions online in specific platforms managed by them.
- Access from different places and from any platform.
- Scalability to the operation and information requirements of the organizations.
- The measurement of the resources used is done considering the disk space used, facilitating with this the estimation of costs that allow to prepare better scenarios for the planning of resources of information technologies.
- Shared and safe environment.
- Encryption of the data, both in the process of copying the information, as well as in the volumes that contain the backups of the computers and servers.
- Savings in operation and maintenance costs, in terms of technology management.
- More realistic license management of the simplest and least cumbersome solutions but with the same levels of quality and support, considering the response times and the levels of service agreed with the clients. Taking into account these diverse operating scenarios and considering the fact that new technologies and models will continue to grow and emerge, it is easy to assume that alternatives to Tivoli will grow in popularity and new ones will appear, which will not only make use of existing resources but will allow manage new ones that may be created, especially in:
- Cloud storage solutions.
- Optimization in the performance of the communications, that allow to optimize the use of the bandwidth for the execution of the activities of backup and recovery.
- Algorithms and mechanisms of compression and encryption for the protection of information and the transmission channel, both for local and/or remote localities.
- Methodologies for the execution of backups that optimize the use of resources, both for storage, CPU, bandwidth, etc., and reduce the execution times of backup and recovery operations.
- Configuration and preparation of hybrid environments in organizations, not only for the daily execution of operations but also for the execution of projects, such as massive data migrations, environments for disaster recovery, alternate data centers, among others.
Bacula Enterprise Edition is a more modern alternative to IBM Tivoli, which not only offers the same functionalities and benefits of an enterprise backup software, but also helps to significantly save costs throughout the different phases of implementation and use of backup and recovery management. Bacula Enterprise Edition uses state-of-the-art technologies and operating methodologies. When combined with its especially high standard of technical support, it more readily satisfies organizational requirements, while being agile to effectively adjust to an organizations’ existing resources.