Advanced Technologies for Managing to Reduced Budgets

Mid-sized businesses are using and saving more data than ever before. Indeed, the phenomenon that IT engineers have come to refer to as "big data" is being felt in businesses of all sizes. At the same time, however, organizations are facing reduced budgets. Regardless of how much data their likely overburdened IT staff must manage today and tomorrow, mid-sized businesses must find ways to save money by keeping a tight rein on both capital and operational expenditures.

And, by all accounts, data will continue to proliferate at unprecedented rates, pushing the total amount of information in existence today to 1.2 zettabytes-1,000 exabytes, that is-according to a special February 2010 report by The Economist.

The good news? Cost-efficient information management technologies such as deduplication and archiving, which were previously options for enterprise organizations only, are now available for the mid-sized business. Better yet, these technologies have been integrated into backup and recovery solutions that mid-sized businesses can now use not only to reduce storage costs but to improve data protection and minimize the overall complexity of their IT environments.

Eliminating Redundant Data

One of the most effective technologies for addressing the challenges of both rapid data growth and reduced budgets is deduplication. Deduplication eliminates redundant data across multiple backups or systems to reduce the amount of data stored.  Deduplication can reduce the amount of backup data stored by 90% or more for file system backups and 80% or more for application backups, including Microsoft Exchange backups. As a result, deduplication enables organizations to dramatically reduce backup storage costs by consolidating and reusing existing storage resources.

There are different approaches to where deduplication technology is deployed - at the client/source, at the media server, or through a deduplication appliance that integrates with the backup software. While many products offer only one method of deduplication, new solutions have emerged that provide flexible options.

Mid-sized businesses can deploy deduplication at remote offices as well as in data centers, and across physical and virtual environments. When combined with other advanced technologies such as archiving, deduplication significantly reduces the length and size of backups. It can also make virtualized server backups more manageable.

With client or source deduplication, redundant data is removed before it is transmitted to the backup server. This reduces the bandwidth required to move data to a backup server, by as much as 99% and also reduces the overall backup time.

For machines that cannot handle the CPU overhead associated with deduplication at the client, target or media server deduplication can be applied to remove redundant data after it is sent over the network. Deduplication at the backup media server can also provide significant storage savings for virtualized backups.

Additionally, some organizations might prefer to use deduplication appliances to remove redundant data. These devices can be made even more effective when they are integrated into a comprehensive backup and recovery strategy. This combined solution not only eases management challenges but also increases the performance and efficiency of the appliance.

Controlling Storage Growth

Many IT administrators would agree that keeping old, infrequently accessed, and redundant data on primary servers is a waste of expensive space, and that it is also a costly and time-consuming challenge to manage, maintain, and back up the data. Yet, far too often, less active content continues to reside on these servers. This can include old email, documents, presentations, and other types of unstructured information. In response, organizations often simply purchase more high-cost storage.

Organizations can reclaim this space by including archiving as part of their backup and recovery strategy. Archiving takes infrequently used unstructured data off of primary storage, indexes it, and moves it into less expensive, slower disk arrays for longer-term retention. Furthermore, storage lifecycle policies can be applied so that data is kept for an appropriate period of time and then deleted.

When archiving is integrated into recovery data protection solution, the archiving operates off of backup copies of the respective file servers or mailboxes. This type of implementation leads to lower network transfers; and, because only a single agent needs to be deployed on the remote machine, the load on the source server is reduced.

Mid-sized businesses can take these efficiencies a step further with a backup and recovery approach that also provides integrated deduplication in the archive. With such an implementation, the archive deduplicates and compresses data while storing a single copy of a file or email message in the archive, regardless of the number of times it was archived or where it was originally from. This reduces the amount of data stored in the archive which, in turn, saves on storage costs.

Easing Information Management

As organizations of all sizes struggle to meet the challenges of managing their information in the most cost-effective way, advanced technologies are now available to deliver enterprise-class capabilities to the mid-sized business. With deduplication and archiving integrated into backup and recovery solutions, businesses have sophisticated yet easy-to-use tools to reduce backup storage costs by consolidating and reusing existing storage resources as well as by automatically migrating older, less critical data over time to less expensive storage.

Without adding complexity to their IT environment, an integrated solution helps mid-sized businesses reduce capital expenditures while also keeping operational expenditures under control. By obviating the need to purchase, install, configure, and manage separate, disparate tools, the backup and recovery solution with integrated deduplication and archiving significantly streamlines management.

For mid-sized businesses that take advantage of current advanced, enterprise-class technologies, the goal of achieving more with less is decidedly and finally within reach. By leveraging integrated deduplication and archiving as part of their backup and recovery strategy, mid-sized businesses in today's era of "big data" can enjoy dramatic savings in time, money, and resources now and into the future.

About the Author:

Pat Hanavan is vice president, Symantec Information Management Group, Symantec Corp. For more information about the company, visit the Symantec website.