Backup appliances: A buyer’s checklist
In the race to protect and recover growing volumes of data quickly and efficiently, there’s a mounting demand for “plug-and-play” solutions that deliver the scalability and flexibility enterprise environments need, at a competitive price that are easy to buy. This is where purpose-built backup appliances can fill the need. Those that have been designed to deliver automatic storage configuration, integrated advanced features and simple, single-point support can provide exceptional value. Yet, not all backup appliances are created equal. To derive the most value from your appliance selection, follow this buyer’s checklist. It outlines key features to consider for your next backup appliance purchase so that you can realize the most value from your investment.
Many IT departments do not realize that more than 70 percent of their data lives in secondary storage. (1)
When looking at your backup appliance options, there are some basic requirements that will ensure that your appliance of choice delivers the value and operation you require. Consider these basic points as your baseline:
Ease of acquisition
An appliance should be available as an integrated solution including pre-installed data protection software, and server and storage hardware that’s pre-configured and validated for the specific workload, all available in a single package for easy procurement.
Installation and acquisition
Review the appliances’ deployment guidance. The most effective appliances can be deployed in an hour or two to save you valuable IT resources.
To conserve valuable IT staff resources and time, select an appliance that offers centralized management and reporting via an easy to use console. To further reduce complexity, consider a solution that allows IT Generalists to quickly monitor performance, set data protection policies, and enable self-service capabilities.
Patches and updates
To save time and minimize risk of patching individual software components and updating hardware firmware, select an integrated appliance to ensure a single patch updates the entire appliance and you are always running the current version for greater feature, functionality, and security.
“With the most comprehensive support for technologies that enterprises deploy — applications, databases, operating systems, public cloud, containers, big data platforms and storage infrastructure — Commvault also offers archive management and eDiscovery capabilities. It can move data between tiers — from on-premises to hyperscale public cloud and within the cloud — depending on enterprise policy and offers easy scalability both within and outside of the data center.”2
To provide greater services to your lines of business and applications, select a solution built on a scale-out architecture to deliver cloud-like services on-premises.
Select a solution that will not only offer a wide range of usable capacity to support your current and future requirements, but that also makes adding capacity easy and avoids the challenges of traditional forklift upgrades. In addition, ensure your solution will support mixing multiple hardware generations in a single pool.
To protect your investment, ensure your solution offers a subscription based pricing model that includes automatic hardware refreshes for the latest hardware technology.
Availability and resiliency
To provide a highly resilient architecture and greater service availability, the solution should be designed and leverage the latest technologies, such as scale-out infrastructure, shared storage pool and redundant hardware components.
Single point of contact
A backup appliance, while comprised of multiple technology components, should offer support for both the hardware and software from a single source to save you time and finger-pointing headaches.
Every organization has unique data protection needs and often those needs change and grow with the demands of your business. Selecting an integrated backup appliance that will not only support your needs today, but can extend to efficiently deliver the features you need tomorrow requires close evaluation of your appliance’s full feature set and options. Here are some additional considerations to assess so that you select the appliance that meets your distinct requirements.
Most, if not all, appliances provide some level of hardware availability (i.e., redundant and hot-swappable power supplies, fans, hard drives), but few provide an equivalent level of software resiliency, making the media agent a single point of failure. For a truly resilient appliance solution, the software should provide resiliency to complement the hardware. Ideally, the appliance is built on a scale-out infrastructure to provide greater availability and allows you to easily scale.
An integrated appliance will support enterprise class deduplication, including source-side deduplication, which reduces network traffic and optimizes storage costs. The architecture should also support replication of deduplicated data to a disaster recovery site.
Data protection tasks like backup, archive, and disaster recovery should all be automated, regardless of where the data resides. Any need for scripting or human intervention requires resources and introduces risk. A data management solution should be capable of orchestrating complex end-to-end processes with pre-built and custom workflow automation engines.
Converged backup, archive and reporting
A backup appliance must bring convergence to data management tasks, eliminating the need for multiple point solutions. Convergence requires a common infrastructure through which tasks are performed in a single efficient step across the entire IT environment, thus reducing operational overhead and IT investments.
Snapshot technology to speed data protection
When linked to backup processes, hardware array-based snapshot technology can increase the speed of data protection. However, not just any snapshot tool will do. The provider’s snapshot technology should combine deep application, hypervisor and cloud awareness with broad hardware compatibility. As a result, IT can gain visibility into these environments and manage all of them from a centralized tool.
Comprehensive reporting and analytics
Access to actionable information gives IT organizations the insight they need to make informed decisions about their data management processes. Any backup and recovery appliance selected should provide built-in, comprehensive reporting and analytics, which enable IT to identify opportunities to further improve efficiencies.
Backup to tape
Select a backup appliance that offers optional support for integrated backup to tape.
Thanks to the consumerization of IT, employees are more willing than ever to do for themselves. An integrated backup appliance should take advantage of this trend to enable users to more quickly have their needs met. Today’s solutions must provide a web-based self-service management console via which users can manage their own cloud resources and access archived data. However, to prevent increased complexity, help desk strain and security concerns, the solution must also give IT the appropriate control, security, and discovery capabilities.
After reviewing these criteria, you’re likely to find most of these features to be important. If so, consider evaluating the Commvault HyperScale™ Appliance. Partnered with industry leaders, Commvault delivers a best of breed backup appliance combined with the power of Commvault’s software to deliver cloud-like services on premises. The result is a single, integrated solution that combines software, hardware and support into a single package so that you can quickly and efficiently protect, manage, backup and recover your data.
- The Forrester Wave™ Data Resiliency Solutions, Q3 2017
- Based on Commvault data analysis of Customers reporting their data storage usage type.