More with Less

Data Protection & Doing More With Less

More with LessThe ongoing pressure to do more with lessMORE data, devices, users, applications, locations, protection, and LESS money, resources, and especially time — is relentless. However, while data protection doesn’t get the attention of all the things required to keep an organization running efficiently and effectively, without doing it well, no organization can survive for long. With the accelerating growth of data and its growing importance, backing up — replicating — that data faster also becomes more important.

According to a new report from Gartner, IoT deployments will generate large quantities of data that need to be processed and analyzed in real time. “IoT threatens to generate massive amounts of input data from sources that are globally distributed,” said Joe Skorupa, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“Organizations will be forced to aggregate data in multiple distributed mini data centers where initial processing can occur. Relevant data will then be forwarded to a central site for additional processing.”

Gartner said backing up this volume of data will present potentially insoluble governance issues, such as network bandwidth and remote storage bandwidth. The movement toward virtualization, as well as cloud services, will reduce the complexity and boost on-demand capacity to deliver reliability and business continuity.

Data is already growing annually in the 50%-plus range, while IT budgets are limping along at 3-4%. Not surprisingly, backing up that data is a huge problem, one that is out of control.

According to Forrester analyst Rachel Dines one of the guiltiest culprits behind data growth is actually backup data. “Between 2010 and 2012, the average enterprise server backup data store grew by 42%, while file storage (which is often the scapegoat of data growth) grew by 28%. And with more and more mobile workers, it’s no surprise that PC backup storage is also growing at an explosive rate, almost 100% over the past two years.”

An increasingly popular way of protecting that data is with purpose-built backup appliances. Factory revenues posted a 9.4% increase last year, with total capacity shipped up 8% to 509,067 terabytes. “The total worldwide PBBA market continued to experience robust growth outpacing the worldwide external disk array and the data protection and recovery software markets,” said Robert Amatruda, Research Director, Data Protection and Recovery, IDC.

In addition to appliances, the cloud is also growing in popularity. Last year the cloud backup and recovery services market exceeded $2 billion in spending, with double-digit revenue growth.

It seems everybody, including the vendors, tends to ignore backup, according to Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Jason Buffington in a recent blog. “It seems that every time a new major IT platform is delivered, backing it up is an afterthought — often exacerbated by the fact that the platform vendor didn’t create the APIs or plumbing to enable a backup ecosystem.”

He cites multiple examples, and new challenges, including Microsoft SharePoint, and big data. While myriad vendors from disruptive startups to dominant IT titans are pushing the value propositions of better analytics on more sources of data, few are talking about data protection, disaster recovery, and business continuity for big data.

According to ESG research, most surveyed companies are significantly increasing their spending in the related fields of business intelligence, analytics, and big data, yet big gaps in current approaches to making big data deployments enterprise-ready and truly resilient leave a significant risk of downtime. Organizations are starting to recognize this, with reliability the third most-cited important priority for solutions, followed within a few percentage points by built-in high availability, backup, and disaster recovery. However, said ESG, the lack of protection and recovery capabilities for big data platforms is a critical problem that jeopardizes many big data production implementations.

One tiny ray of hope in a sea of data backup woes is being offered by Silver Peak. Back in October the WAN optimization vendor enhanced its Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA) software (V6.2) — intended to accelerate and simplify remote replication and backups from any storage product with just six mouse clicks.

In April, Silver Peak expanded its Velocity Replication Acceleration (VRX) software suite. The new accelerator, VRX-6, enables the acceleration of offsite data replication workloads up to 20x (on average) over any distance over a 300 Mbps WAN. Based on Silver Peak’s Virtual Acceleration Open Architecture (VXOA) data acceleration operating system, it deploys seamlessly into any replication environment and runs on all standard hypervisors, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and KVM.

The bottom line is that with data protection demands vastly exceeding backup windows, every little bit helps. Doubtless both vendors and users will continue to address the big issues around the growing backup challenges, but it’s nice to know that point solutions are emerging that can at least ease some of the very real pain points.