Companies are considering cloud-based backup services, in part, because they enable the elimination of tape media, tape drives and libraries, backup software, and processes or services to transport media off site and store it. Others are considering these services because the current process is labor-intensive or unreliable, with backups failing to complete, with backed-up data difficult to locate and cumbersome to restore.
Whether moving from stand-alone tape drives to an automated tape library, a disk-based, on-premise backup, or a backup service hosted in the Cloud, before re-architecting a backup process companies should first analyze existing data and data retention policies. It is not enough to understand the quantity of data, the growth rate, and the backup and restore windows. Companies should also establish or review data-retention policies, determine the age of data, the value of data, the number of copies of data, and the frequency of requests to restore data. A first step in re-engineering any backup process should be to eliminate all unnecessary duplicate data as well as any original data that is no longer needed by the corporation. IT should also be alert to personal employee data such as personal photographs and videos stored on the organization's servers and shared as attachments through e-mail. Eliminating these files before backup can cut the volume of data significantly, thereby saving money, regardless of the data backup strategy being used. By understanding the data and doing housekeeping before re-architecting backup processes, organizations can dramatically cut costs and work within prescribed budget edicts more effectively.
In the case of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the organization leveraged tools from Asigra, the software engine behind the cloud services provider, to identify data and duplicates that could be eliminated. Once the data was reduced, they could then migrate to a Cloud-based service that allowed them to eliminate tape media, tape drives, and manual processes for transporting data off site.
For the Museum, the migration to a Cloud-based backup service resulted in a 10%-15% improvement in IT staff productivity. It also reduced the probability that the Museum's reputation would be damaged, because valuable data was more likely to be protected. Another benefit was that the Museum improved backup and recovery processes, ensuring that backups were completed on time and reliably. They also provided a better overall experience for the IT department's clients, enabling faster restoration of data from the Cloud than could have been achieved using the previous tape-based solution.
Action Item: IT professionals considering a Cloud-based backup offering should first eliminate unnecessary data and review policies and processes. Once that is completed, they will have ample opportunity to get rid of tape drives, tape media, backup software, and media-transport, and media-vaulting services.