Storage Trends in 2008 and BeyondBy Elizabeth Millard Print
A look at what's ahead in the near future, and the long-term, when it comes to corralling data with storage technologies--and keeping it safe.
"Backup is broken," says Stephanie Balaouras, principal analyst, Forrester Research. "More and more people aren't comfortable with any data loss at all, and most businesses are moving to 24/7 schedules that don't have maintenance windows. Storage is now officially a problem, so now is the time to address it."
In a recent report, Balaouras noted that there are several emerging trends in technology and functional convergence that should address major challenges like increasing capacities and recovery point requirements, shrinking backup windows, and limited budgets.
To improve backup, a company needs to address the whole ecosystem, Balaouras notes, rather than addressing individual components of a storage strategy. She adds that one important step is to eliminate point products by choosing applications that have consolidated functionality. Rather than cobbling together a number of software apps, an enterprise should opt for a "data protection suite" that not only manages backups but also includes other data protection options.
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With these suites, companies need to use the advanced features as well, a strategy employed by too few, Balaouras says. The tools are in place, so use them, she advises: take advantage of database- and application-specific agents for making consistent backups, virtual full backups and synthetic backups for reducing backup windows, and snapshot-assisted backups that can completely eliminate backup windows in some cases.
Another major industry trend that can be addressed at a data-center level is the under use of media servers. "Too often, backup environments are not sized appropriately, given the amount of data that actually needs to be backed up and protected," Balaouras notes.
Finally, there's archiving, she says. If a company doesn't have an archiving strategy in place for regulatory compliance, it should consider developing one for operational benefits. It's likely that more companies will take a closer look at archiving in the near future, and for good reason: storing infrequently accessed files, emails and structured data in lower-cost environments reduces costs and improves the performance of backups.
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Alan Dayley, research director of the Software Market Research Team at Gartner, pinpoints other trends that will have an effect on purchasing and implementation in the next few years.
In a recent survey of storage users, Gartner found that the overall trend of backup to disk continues, with only 35 percent of respondents backing up directly to tape. Replication will also continue to gain importance in the recovery process, Dayley says, with at least 77 percent of organizations already augmenting or replacing backup with replication.
"Replication is a quicker, easier, faster way of getting to the point where you can restore information," says Dayley.
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