Guest Post: World Backup Day: Keeping Your Data Backup Top Of Mind

By Matt Tyrer, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing for the Americas, Commvault

Over the past 10 years, backup and recovery has moved out of the basement and into the corner office with a view. When I first started in IT a little over 20 years ago, backup was very much an afterthought. Many teams did not even consider data management or protection during the project planning phase, or even after a project was deployed. 

Ten years ago, when the first World Backup Day was celebrated, organizations started waking up to the fact that their data is a very valuable asset, and that they need to ensure that they have an intelligent strategy in place to manage and protect it. 

Today, data is at the front and centre of every organization’s business strategy, and protecting, securing, and managing this data is a priority not just for IT staff or business unit leaders, but the C-suite as well.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to consider when it comes to data backup in your environment:

Companies are rapidly adopting new Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) solutions because they want to cut through the complexity of their current IT environments — and anyone that tells you IT environments these days are not complex is trying to sell you something

They are complex because of the rate of change in the tools, products, software, and everything else that makes up these environments. They are complex because spinning up new workloads on new platforms is easy, and IT teams find themselves having to manage these new workloads while still maintaining all their legacy applications and servers. 

Analysts, for years, have been talking about the “rise of the generalist” in IT, but there is just too much for any generalist to know and keep track of these days. These generalists, and the organizations that employ them, just can’t keep up in terms of acquiring the skills they need to handle all of this in-house. 
Being able to turn to a BaaS offering provides organizations with a solid solution to reduce, if not completely eliminate, the complexity they face related to protecting their data. Organizations can hand over the data backup and recovery tasks they can to experts and keep in-house what those that they absolutely have to directly manage themselves.

When it comes to backup, the most common mistake organizations are making is trying to “paint everything with the same brush.”

Not all your data needs to be quickly recoverable and some doesn’t need to be backed up or retained at all. For example, not all of your data are tier-1 workloads, and need to have the short Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) as well as strict Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as these workloads. 

By adjusting your RTOs, RPOs and SLAs to reflect the unique backup and recovery requirements of each of your workloads, companies can reduce their storage and data protection costs. This is especially true when one considers the lower cost (and lower performance) backup and recovery options that are available today on the cloud. 

When evaluating a backup solution, companies should keep three things top of mind

The first thing is flexibility. It is great if your solution can address your needs today. It is not so great if it can’t pivot to cover tomorrow’s data challenges. In addition, this flexibility goes beyond just functionality. Is it flexible to license, deploy and operate as well?

The second is coverage. How broad is the solution’s coverage? Can it actually address all the workloads you need it to address? Does doing so stretch it, and require kludges or over-customizing? You need to be sure that “it does what it says it does” and can keep doing so even as your workloads change. You shouldn’t have to force it.

The third is scalability. Not just scalability in terms of raw size and horsepower — although both of these are also important! But also scalability in terms of functionality and use cases. Sure, it can back up workloads 1, 2, and 3, but what about disaster recovery use cases? What about DevOps use cases, where it is often about quickly creating a new copy of a set of data for the DevOps team to play with? You need more from your backup than just backup. Many solutions may seem simple at first, but that’s often because they only need to do a little. When you scale up your demands on them, that’s when these solutions’ complexity tends to scale up as well.

Matt Tyrer is the Ottawa-based Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing for the Americas for data protection leader Commvault. Matt is an IT industry veteran with 20 years of experience. He has worked with teams from around the world to build and implement data management and protection solutions for customers of all sizes.

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