The big flaw in ‘always-on’

Businesses need to keep their services running 24/7 as it is not unusual for customer to need information at 2am. But many of today’s backup solutions only backup at pre-defined times and so end up losing the latest transactions in the case of a IT failure.

Most existing backup solutions are failing to give businesses the data protection they need, says Warren Olivier of Veeam, creating an “availability gap” between business requirements and IT performance.

“It’s no longer unusual for customers or employees to need information and services to be available around the clock,” says Olivier, who is Veeam’s Regional Manager for Southern Africa. “Even at 2am, there’ll be someone who’s wanting to shop online, update their insurance details or log in to finish some work while they’re travelling in a distant time zone. The always-on business needs constant, reliable data availability.”

Unfortunately, says Olivier, conventional backup methods haven’t kept up: “Solutions that are affordable offer recovery time and recovery point objectives (RTPOs) measured on hours or even days, which isn’t good enough anymore. To get RTPOs down to the minutes that contemporary businesses need, they have had to invest in expensive business continuity solutions that are only affordable for a few, absolutely critical applications.”

Conventional backup solutions are falling behind in other ways too, as data volumes increase: “I had one IT manager come to me when his backups started taking two days to complete,” says Olivier. “Others are worried that even when backups complete successfully, it might not be possible to restore from them. Backups need to be tested regularly, but this can’t happen if that takes hours or days each time.”

Add increasing requirements for backups to be sent offsite despite poor bandwidth availability, and many IT managers are faced with the dangers of not meeting their SLA targets, says Olivier. “The key metrics are how long it takes to back up, how long it takes to restore, and whether restoration can be completed successfully every time.”

The solution lies in the fact that most businesses are now operating virtualised data centres, says Olivier. “Virtualisation technology has enabled a completely new approach to data protection. It’s now possible to treat an entire server as just another file that can be copied, compressed, encrypted and sent across a network.”

Olivier says new tools such as the Veeam Availability Suite allow businesses to take advantage of this new speed and flexibility, at a price that’s affordable even for small and medium-sized enterprises. “It offers high-speed recovery, protects against data loss and verifies this protection. Because backups can also now be copied and used as production-identical test environments, development teams can eliminate many deployment problems.”

Veeam’s built-in WAN acceleration technology also means it’s much easier and more cost-effective to send backups offsite.

“In the end, a backup is no good on its own: What matters is whether you can recover from it, and how quickly,” says Olivier. “If the answer is anything but ‘every time, with minutes’, you’re being short-changed.” 

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