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How Have Backup Suites Changed Over the Years?

A backup application for the enterprise used to just be that – a backup. It’d create a secondary copy of your data and offer the facility to restore it, but not much more than that. Today, however, times have changed and backup suites have evolved. The platforms available now offer more features like replication management, cloud integration, virtual server data protection and much more.

Snapshots have become a popular way of allowing for fast recovery of file data or virtual machines. Although snapshot integration isn’t anything new (it’s been offered by some vendors for years), array-level snapshots in particular are now a standard must-have for backup providers.

One such example is Symantec’s NetBackup, which will function across a number of hardware and software snapshot methods. They have a feature called NetBackup Replication Director that controls the snapshot process and it offers individual file restoration from a snapshot without having to mount the entire snapshot.

A similar function can be found in HP’s Data Protector 9. Array-based snapshots have been supported by the utility for a long time now, but it now extends past data and can snapshot applications too. The HP 3PAR StoreServ environment in particular can instantly recover file systems and Oracle, SAP and Microsoft applications.

The way snapshots work has changed and so has the support for virtualisation. Again, server virtualisation isn’t anything new, it’s been a feature supported for many years, but the functions on offer continue to improve.

To use Symantec as an example again, they now offer unified protection for virtual and physical servers, giving a standard view of physical and virtual resources. HP also offers something similar. This is done so that redundant storage pools are removed and deduplication is an easier process.

The ‘cloud’ is a term that has been thrown around for a while, but it’s only relatively recently that it is beginning to come into its own. Cloud storage is available at consumer and enterprise level now, meaning that the top vendors have been adding cloud support to their products. It’s unlikely that most enterprises will ever move all their data into the cloud, but if any of it exists there then it needs to be supported.

CommVault provider a tool called Virtualize Me that checks out the physical server configuration and then creates a virtual machine to mimic it. A replication process keeps the virtual machine current. Rather than customers having to pay out for secondary hardware that mirrors the first, CommVault provide a cloud-based solution that is much more cost effective.

There’s also been a change in centralised management, especially now that distributed and replicate backup systems are becoming more common. Some of the centralised tools allow actions to be performed across several data centres and to manage physical and virtual resources in the same way. Symantec, HP, IBM and more all offer their own centralised management utilities, especially now that data is spread out across mobile platforms too.

Data backup will always be a part of the IT environment and it’s important that the utilities we used to backup and restore that data evolve with the times. The basic functions may remain the same, but the way they work and the extra features on offer will change as is necessary.


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