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Backup: When Having Less Means More

Community Manager
Community Manager
Employee CPEP

Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are facing a common growing pain. Lot and lots of data. The amount of data they are storing is increasing enormously, and it’s becoming more and more challenging to keep up with Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and compliance requirements. And yet now they are finding out that they should be backing up all their information in order to avoid outages in the event of a disaster.

The past several years have provided plenty of evidence of the need for disaster preparedness. And making backup more complicated is the issue of virtualization, which, according to a recent Symantec survey, is being utilized by 34 percent of SMBs today. Not only do SMBs have to back up their data on physical hardware platforms they have been using for years, now they have to add a virtual environment to the list of things to back up.

Many vendors are happy to provide a solution that handles virtual environments, but they often require a separate physical backup solution. To meet the backup needs of SMBs in the midst of all these technology changes, a new approach is needed. Simply expanding our storage beyond our ability to effectively maintain it isn’t going to help, it only avoids the problem. So, what can we do?

There is good news. Despite the challenges, virtualization can improve SMBs’ ability to respond to outages. In fact, in a recent survey, 71 percent of them reported that server virtualization actually improved their disaster recovery ability. In order to achieve effective backup capabilities while deploying virtualization alongside your existing physical servers, consider the following tips:

  • As you assess backup solutions, carefully consider the user interface. A simpler solution will save a significant amount of time in the long run, and better enable users to take full advantage of its features.
  • Adopt a solution that will allow you to manage both physical and virtual backups from a central control panel, eliminating the need for two processes. This will also reduce costs and speed up the recovery process.
  • One of the most important steps to take in an effective backup program for physical and virtual servers is to eliminate the infinite retention policies employed by many businesses. Data should be categorized: Do I need to be able to recover the most recent version? Do I need to recover the 5th most recent version? Do I want to free up space by moving data to long-term archive storage?
  •  Archiving is preferable for long-term (>90 days, up to 7 years or more) storage. Information that is not important to retain for daily business or eDiscovery purposes should be archived.
  • Find a vendor that can provide a single solution that will integrate both backup and recovery abilities regardless of the server type (physical or virtual). In addition, consider adding deduplication capabilities to the recovery solution.
  • Think about keeping your backups offsite or “in the cloud” to eliminate the need for the physical transfer of backup tapes.
  • The backup solution should also facilitate the recovery of individual files or directories, rather than requiring a full restoration in each instance.

While backup has been an afterthought in the past for SMBs, they can no longer afford to dismiss the notion of an outage. There’s never been a better time to take steps to ensure productivity in case disaster strikes. Adopting a single backup solution that works in both physical and virtual environments can keep information flowing smoothly and clear the road to productivity.