Tag Archives: Backup

Factors Affecting Backup Consolidation of Laptops, Servers and Endpoints

IT managers want to consolidate backups.  They try to bring this project to CIO’s attention at times by writing a reminder on the IT’s whiteboard every year, especially during budget approval. The purpose of this backup consolidation is simple: protection of the data while increasing the speed of data recovery and storage process and reducing costs. However, most of the efforts related to backup consolidation have not been successful, as data continually changes in the organisation. As a result, most of the small to medium sized enterprises have given up hope of utilizing CIO a single consolidated backup solution.

There are numerous problems in data consolidation process especially the lack of a single dominated solution. The data protection system fragments when users implement applications. Nowadays, Cloud is the only remaining hope for the SMEs. Cloud has brought us bespoke services, ensuring the data protection requirements. SMEs are beginning to appreciate the value of the cloud; it has now matured and has evolved into disaster recovery and long term archival in addition to basic backups and data protection. Let us discuss additional points on how cloud backup can help the SMEs to implement useful data protection strategies.

Elements of Change:

The very first thing in the process of consolidation is the historical information about previous fragmentation. Recent technologies have brought several changes in this area.

Following things have forced the IT departments to invent new solutions for data consolidation:

  • Rapid data growth;
  • Home/remote offices;
  • Cloud-based applications;
  • Demand for faster recovery;
  • Increased workforce mobility;
  • Desktop and server vitalisation.

Specialized Applications:

Most companies have got their specialized data recovery options, but they will need to have a single solution if they want to utilize data consolidation. For instance, it would not be a good decision to recover thousands of emails when a few emails are lost.  This is why the email database backup and recovery system must know how to recover the desired emails in less time. Modern and specialized backup applications are more useful to generate such results.

The Mobile Workforce:

Today, the Internet has enabled the widespread adoption of “work from home”.  A vast number of people are telecommuting, and at times are referred as mobile workforce. Such initiatives save commuting time, reduce Carbon footprint, encourages green thinking, and saves money, and office real estate. Mobile workforce can access data in a network from office or any place with the help of an Internet connection. All this has completely changed the network reach assumed by traditional backup service providers.

Mobile workers usually use laptops, which are not usually protected. If protected at all, it would be done using separate backup solutions. With the proliferation of Smartphones and tablets, a typical mobile worker now has at least three devices — each of which creates data — which are prone to theft and loss. Mobile data has become important and it always needs to be protected. This can be done with the help of specialized data backup option, such as Asigra’s agent less solution.

Consolidation Requirements:

To make backup consolidation successful, it is required to match with modern IT architecture. Following steps will be required for this purpose:

  • Consolidation should be extensible for innovative dedicated applications. This will help the IT departments to make changes in future in order to create compatibility.
  • The IT applications should work in all types of environments (high or low bandwidth connectivity). This will enable the system to continue backup process from any source.
  • It should be efficient to utilize Internet in order to create backups. This will be good if devices or systems are being used outside the area of local network or administrator.
  • It should recover data quickly, allowing a variety of recovery point and recovery time objectives, with minimal data movement, block data transfer, across LAN and WAN.

Will the Cloud Consolidate Backup Easily?

It leads therefore that the cloud will be able to consolidate backup without any problem. As a matter of fact, cloud has a natural backup system enabling it to work worldwide with various applications. It has excellent tendency to work with low or high bandwidth connection, different computing gadgets, Smartphones and networks.

Facts Behind Re-Purposing Outdated Hardware

Hardware failure is not a day to day issue for most of users. If, however, hardware failure happens on constant basis, you must need to think about it seriously. Due to hardware failure, important files and folders can be lost. Survey about hardware failure is conducted to discover ratio in IT departments.

In past, almost 99% of IT experts faced troubles due to hardware failure;
At time of data loss, above 70% IT professionals have given their services to clients;
80% are of the view that hard drive is the basic reason of hardware failure.

Hardware failure affects business continuity. Many companies are using old hardware, and this could cause hardware failure. It is concerning why computer users have old hardware. When a piece of equipment completes its life span without getting out of order, why it is used until it stops working completely? How long, do you expect a hardware to continue to work? How do you use old equipment?

IT professionals state that re-purposing of hardware gives a number of benefits to users. However, at the same time, there are some drawbacks associated with re-purposing. If you have made up your mind for re-purposing hardware, consider these facts:

Time Span for Hardware
IT professionals agree that it is good to re-purpose a machine that is used for few years. However, parts such as thermal paste, battery, RAM and fans should be swapped. Five years old hardware is good for home use, such as media server. Conversely, it will create troubles if much older machine is re-purposed for production. IT experts recommend that old hardware should not be used as production machines.

What is the Purpose?
Most of users select old hardware either for testing or storage purposes. As far as storage is concerned, you can perform a few things with old hardware. It can be used for backups, as well as for shared storage. Whatever is your target, it is good to keep copy of backup data to use in critical situations. On the other hand, old equipment is good to use for testing purpose in laboratories like virtualization, training or any other purpose. If hardware is old, it does not mean it is useless.

Consideration before Re-purposing Hardware
Everyone wants to get benefits from hardware as long as it is in working condition. Nobody wants to throw away hardware equipment just for the reason it has covered its expected life span. As compared to other equipment, computer hardware are highly superseded; therefore, users do not need to get in trouble for re-purposing, repairing or refurbishing. IT professionals note that repair and ownership cost may result in waste of time and effort.

Recycling is another form of re-purposing hardware. Visit local electronics that accept old computer hardware or you can also try to design some thing new using the old hardware. You can find interesting projects online for old computer components.*

* – http://www.zdnet.com/pictures/upcycled-tech-24-new-uses-for-your-old-hardware/

Efficient, Stable De-duplicating Processes

Storage needs are ballooning. Data volumes will soon overwhelm organisations like a never receding Tsunami if nothing is done about it. There are very few choices. Organisations must:

1. Get more storage space;
2. Archive / take offline data that is no longer relevant; or
3. Compress the data stored.

While falling disk prices and innovative storage systems have made it possible to hire more disk space or archive data effectively, it is data compression that has received a lot of attention in recent years. Compression not only saves disk space, it also saves bandwidth required for transmission of data over the network. Data compression includes data de-duplication and is relevant both for data storage and data archival.

Disk based “de-duplication systems” compress data by removing duplicates of data across the data storage system. Some implementations compress data at a ratio of 20:1 (total data size / physical space used) or even higher. This may be done by reducing the footprint of the versioned data during incremental or differential backup.

Vendors use a variety of algorithms to de-duplicate data. Chunking algorithms break the data into chunks for de-duplication purposes. Chunking can be defined by physical layer constraints, as sliding blocks or single instance storage algorithms. Client backup de-duplication systems use hash calculations to evaluate similarity between files for removal and referencing of duplicates. Primary and secondary storage de-duplication designs also vary. While primary storage de-duplication is directed towards performance optimisation, secondary storage is more tolerant of performance degradation and hence de-duplication algorithms are constructed with more leeway.

Until recently, data de-duplication was only associated with secondary storage. The increasing importance of the cloud as a primary storage has created a lot of interest in de-duplication technologies for primary storage.

We, at Backup Technology, offer an agentless cloud backup service powered by Asigra. Our software de-duplicates data at source and transmits only the compressed, bandwidth efficient incremented or differentiated ‘bits and bytes’ or blocks of the backup set, over the network. Global level de-duplication technology at source is also available for the hybrid versions of the cloud for local backups. The comprehensive solution is non-invasive and ideally suited for small, medium businesses, as well as enterprises. Why don’t you try out our software before you decide to commit yourself?

Creating High Capacity Networks with Almost No Investment

It is an undeniable fact that organisations that are growing will experience degradation of network response times. More and more people logging in from more locations, will jam the works and create intolerable wait times for everyone. The most urgent need will be to increase capacity, bandwidth and invest in capital goods that the organisation can ill afford. Managements may baulk at the thought but will have to give “capacity increase” a serious consideration as it will have a direct or indirect effect on the bottom line. The existence of the business may depend on it. They may be forced to divert funds from other mission critical activities to augment their network.

What if, bandwidth and capacity can be increased with little or no investment? The question will be impossible to ignore? If you had been asked this question a decade or two ago, you would have deemed the questioner a lunatic or an ill-informed idiot. You would not have believed that it is possible to create high capacity networks with little or no investment. You would have been incredulous. Today, the statement will invoke very little surprise. Well, the cloud offers a pay as you go model that allows you to increase or decrease the amount of bandwidth and capacity you use in synchronisation with the peaks and troughs of your business. Cloud computing has made “high capacity network” a reality for even small and medium enterprises that are strapped for funds.

Cloud services offer a number of different options to end users. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) subscribers can requisition for and obtain additional infrastructure from third parties who make infrastructure provisioning their business. Platform as a Service (PaaS), aims to provide customers with the platforms and space they require for developing their custom applications. Software as a service (SaaS) allows organisations save on costs of deploying and licensing on standard applications that may be used regularly by their employees within the organisation. Backup and recovery is made simple with backup, recovery and disaster management being offered as part of the subscription package.

The use of any or all of the above services is charged on usage basis and can be treated as operational expenses by accounting buffs. All that the organisation needs to invest in is—a high speed Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to meet their current needs! High capacity networks can slide into place with a mere subscription to a cloud service.

You Add Value to Public Clouds

Public clouds are suspect—irrespective of whether or not the suspicion is justified or otherwise. Hence, the adoption of the public cloud has been slow.  But, the change is becoming visible, as more and more concerns about the public cloud are addressed, and the public cloud assumes its rightful place as a mode of computing that adds value to the business.

What is the value add that is to be obtained from public clouds?  The value add from public clouds is in direct proportion to the commitment the organisation feels towards managing the cloud provider and employing the cloud solution responsibly and effectively.  In other words, the responsibility for the success of the public cloud rests with the organisation and not with the cloud vendor.

If this seems to be counter-intuitive and contrary to all that you have heard about the cloud, it is the truth. Public clouds do decrease costs and do deliver all kinds of benefits to the end user. But, it brings with it a number of responsibilities:

  1. IT professionals within the organisation must stay with the cloud and its implementation. They must make the effort to understand the terms and conditions of the contract and enforce any remedies that may be built into the contract to ensure efficient performance of contact by the cloud vendor.  If the public cloud performance is poor, the IT personnel within the organisation are to blame.
  2. The objective of the public cloud is not just backup and recovery. There is a whole gamut of activities that happen in between.  Establishing the metrics and monitoring performance is a business imperative for IT managers.  Unmonitored public clouds can cause untold difficulties for end users. Latency, seek time issues or even backup and recovery issues may plague the organisation and make the whole experience of the cloud unpleasant.
  3. Availability and security are promises of the cloud vendor. But, untested security can be dangerous. IT managers will have to repeatedly test the security systems and run disaster recovery exercises to ensure that everything promised is deliverable and can be delivered at the appropriate time and at the pace required.
  4. Nothing can be managed without appropriate tools. IT managers need to ensure that the cloud service provides the managers with the right tools for the right tasks. There should be tools for scheduling backups and recoveries. There should be tools for managing users, stores or archives. There should be tools for generating and analysing reports on user activity or system activity.  Finally, there should be tools for verifying service level agreements (SLAs) and implementations.

It should be remembered that Cloud service providers do not understand your business. They only understand their own business. It is up to you to make sure that their tools are used to your benefit.

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