Why Use Hybrid Infrastructure for Storage and Backup

Digitalization of the enterprise work environment has resulted in a continuously growing pool of data for every enterprise. Initially, big data was limited to certain industries; industries that had more reliance on technology. However, every industry is now reliant upon technology and has digitalized processes to optimize them; consequently big data has ventured into every industry and is an asset for every enterprise.

According to a forecast by Statista, the global data traffic is expected to increase to 0.27 Zettabytes per month (278108 Petabytes per month).

growth of internet traffic

Considering the growth rate of data, it is important for enterprises relying on data to have an efficient way of handling, managing, storing and when needed, recovering this data.

The ever growing pool of data imposes requirements that are far beyond the capabilities of conventional legacy strategies and infrastructures used by enterprises. This big data requires newer and improved ways of addressing its requirements.

Conventional Legacy Strategies and Solutions for Enterprise Data Storage and Backup

Traditional practice is meant to simplify the process of data handling, storage, backup and management. However, due to the continuous expansion of data, it has become very challenging to do so.

The traditional approach comprises of a combination of on-premises infrastructure and tape storage. Typically, certain appliances are dedicated for data storage while other appliances are dedicated for backup. For archiving, the tape storage appliances are used. Sometimes, offsite backup is also integrated into this system. Tape storage or appliances are used to backup data daily or weekly and then these appliances are moved to offsite vaults meant to secure the data and the physical appliance.

Evidently, the entire process requires teams manually working on managing the data, storing and accessing it and backing it up in accordance to a pre-defined schedule. There’s little to no automation involved in the process. Enterprise experience and studies emphasize that human errors are one of the main causes of data loss and downtimes; which in turn prove to be very costly for the enterprise and sometimes, an enterprise never recovers from it.

Besides the lack of automation, the biggest issue with the conventional approach is the excessive footprint it consumes and the costs it incurs.

On-premises infrastructure used for hot data storage is a good strategy because it facilitates IOPS (Input / Output Per Second) intensive workloads but using it for cold data and archival data is very costly. Cold data and archival data consume storage space but do not need reduced latency. As an enterprise data mostly comprises of cold and archival data, which continues to grow, it constantly generates unnecessary costs.

Even with these costs, the backup solution isn’t reliable enough and is prone to data loss while the lack of a disaster recovery service with the conventional approach introduces vulnerabilities to downtime.

Data Loss Repercussions for the Enterprise

Data loss is a terrible thing for the enterprise. Without an effective backup and disaster recovery strategy, an enterprise is highly susceptible to data loss.

Data Loss Repercussions

For most enterprises, data loss is unavoidable and if they do not have sufficient means to recover their data; it’s very difficult to keep the business afloat.

Conventional storage and backup strategies are simply not reliable enough, cost more and are more prone to data loss.
In order to prevent data loss, an enterprise needs to have an efficient storage solution along with a backup solution that ensures data recoverability and a disaster recovery strategy which prevents downtime. This cannot be achieved by legacy infrastructures and strategies. Traditional technology is capable of addressing some of these requirements but at the cost of an unnecessarily large system.

Hybrid Infrastructure with Enterprise Cloud Storage, Backup and Disaster Recovery

With a hybrid infrastructure enterprises can utilize on-premises infrastructure and the cloud, tapping into the benefits of both of them for the enterprise data; this is why experts highly recommend hybrid solutions.

An enterprise with existing legacy infrastructure gains one major advantage with a hybrid solution. Normally, in order to switch to a different or better solution, the enterprise would have to remove all previous appliances and acquire compatible infrastructure. However, a hybrid infrastructure can be acquired by integrating cloud gateway appliances with the existing infrastructure. The gateway appliance would enable the enterprise to migrate their cold and archival data to the cloud. Along with cold and archival data storage in the cloud, the enterprise can also acquire additional VMs (Virtual Machines) and use them for backups.

The acquisition and utilization of cloud gateway appliances depends on the vendor. Most cloud gateway appliances are compatible with mainstream servers and applications and are very simple to integrate. Using these appliances enterprises can gain access to public clouds and their dedicated storage tiers such as Azure Cool Blob Storage, AWS S3-IA, Azure Archival Storage and AWS Glacier.

Instead of using the conventional approach and keeping cold and archival data on-premises, enterprises can utilize these cloud storage tiers for cost effective storage. Similarly, enterprises can acquire a VM via these cloud gateway appliances and dedicate them for backup.

Hybrid solutions not only empower storage and backup for the enterprise in a cost effective way but are also capable of facilitating enterprise level disaster recovery services. Using the same gateway appliance, enterprises can tap into the cloud for replication of their primary systems. So that when disaster strikes, the enterprises can failover to the replicated system; reducing downtime considerably and ensuring business continuity.

In summary, the acquisition of hybrid solutions facilitates the following for the enterprise:

  • Cost effective on-premises and cloud data storage.
  • Cost effective backup in the cloud.
  • Archiving in the cloud.
  • Disaster Recovery.

Enterprises that do not have an existing on-premises infrastructure can acquire appliances with cloud connect services. These services facilitate access to the same cloud based storage and backup services accessible via cloud gateway appliances. The only difference between cloud connect services and cloud gateway appliances is that the latter is a physical appliance while cloud connect services are a built in feature of an appliance.

Difference between Backup and Disaster Recovery

Backup and disaster recovery are often assumed as two names to a single process; however, that’s not the case. The acquisition of both services is of utmost importance for any enterprise whether big or small.

Backup: Backup prioritizes the recoverability of all data. Regardless of how important it is for the enterprise. Enterprises can endure a delay in this process, as long as no data is lost when it’s time to recover it. Therefore, the target devices of this service are servers, workstations and mobile devices. Backups can be stored on-premises and on the cloud; though most experts recommend keeping it on both, as an additional layer of recoverability.

Disaster Recovery: Unlike backups, disaster recovery prioritizes data recovery of mission critical data to prevent enterprise downtime and ensure business continuity. This is why the service targets critical servers and virtual appliances only. Due to the nature of this service, it is very important that it facilitates a quick execution. Enterprise backups can be stored on-premises and in the cloud; but, the storage for the replicated systems can only be in an offsite location.
Due to these fundamental differences in purpose of the two services, both are necessary for the enterprise. The infrastructure requirements imposed by these services are different as well. Backups, as mentioned earlier, can be stored in local infrastructure and the cloud. However, replicated systems for disaster recovery require high performance offsite storage, compute and networking resources and a DR (disaster recovery) orchestration software.

Summary

Digitalization has resulted in constant data growth. Statista expects data growth to exceed 0.27 Zettabytes per month by 2021. This increasing amount of data requires reliable data storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions.
Conventional storage and backup approach comprises of using on-premises infrastructure for both; with dedicated appliances for each of them. For archiving, enterprises either use offsite appliances or use tape storage. These solutions incur additional costs and aren’t efficient enough for the enterprise. Keeping hot data on-premises is efficient but keeping cold and archival data invites unnecessary costs. As cold and archival data makes up most of the enterprise data, it is important to use cost effective storage and backup solutions for them.

In order to effectively address these storage and backup requirements, enterprises using on-premises infrastructure can acquire cloud gateway appliances while enterprises without existing on-premises infrastructure should acquire appliances with cloud connect services. The integration of cloud gateway appliances delivers access to public and private clouds. Using these gateway appliances, enterprises can move their cold and archival data to the cloud while also acquiring additional VMs and dedicating them for backups. With this strategy, enterprises can cost effectively store their data, make it recoverable with backup and acquire disaster recovery services to prevent enterprise downtime.

Lastly, backup and disaster recovery are traditionally regarded as the same process; however, that isn’t correct. Backups prioritize the entirety of the backed up data and are meant to prevent data loss. Disaster recovery services on the other hand are employed to prevent downtime by prioritizing mission critical data restore. This makes disaster recovery systems more demanding than backup solutions. However, both methods are necessary for the enterprise as an enterprise cannot tolerate data loss or downtime.

Bio: This article has been provided by StoneFly.com who provide Storage, Backup and Disaster Recovery and archiving in the cloud with innovative products and services engineered to deliver enterprise level quality.