As I meet with
executives and IT staff from different industries, the reason for my presence
in those meetings is usually to discuss the state of internal backup infrastructures.
I touched on the need for a different backup paradigm for VMware environments
in a previous
post on CIOZone that also addresses the new business realities of 24/7
operations and the extent of the backup window. This is, in general, a
conversation that I have with customers, partners and industry experts all the
data protection (CDP) seems to offers a good answer to the data protection and
recovery challenges of today. CDP eliminates or limits the backup window,
allows for frequent recovery points, and delivers a rapid recovery process, all
of which are great improvements to traditional tape backup operations. But
despite these improvements, there is still a gap between the operational model
of IT organizations and the way the industry is trying to address these
Our view as an
industry has been focused on the data, which we think is the most important
asset of any business (and rightfully so). And the question that we always have
asked ourselves is: How can we best protect files and blocks of data and make
sure that they are recoverable in case of loss or corruption? However, this question doesn’t align with
what IT organizations deliver to their customers. CIOs are responsible for a
sustained delivery of services and business applications to their users. They
operate based on service performance and availability, not files and blocks.
For many years, due to the complexity of the services we deliver, we looked at
what the infrastructure could deliver and defined service level agreements
(SLA) according to what we can get out of them. All the while, we were trying
to understand the interdependencies of systems and applications and how we can
deliver a cohesive service to our users.
In the IT
world, we often have to deal with a lot of moving parts and complex structures.
This is why in many cases we had different SLAs for different parts of the IT
infrastructure – an SLA for the network, another for servers, and another for
storage. Then, we may break them down even further to different classes of
infrastructure to support different classes of services. But a service is a compound
entity that includes all the above and more. A web portal, for example, may be
comprised of many systems depending on the service that it’s delivering, which
could include a few database engines, security services, a directory service,
web servers and much more; all these discrete yet interdependent components are
running over the server, network and storage infrastructure and do not have the
same performance or even availability requirements.
Backup is at
the core of all of this. It’s your insurance policy in many cases, but it could
also be a productivity tool. So, in order to deliver a data protection solution
that matches the operational model of IT departments, the industry needs to
look at changing the atomic unit of backup from files and blocks to a new view
of the service. The first steps toward that model have come to light with the
ability to group applications and systems under the same protection group. The
next evolution for backup applications is to start looking at the service as a
single entity by understanding the interdependencies between all the components
comprising a service to deliver service-oriented data protection (SODP). Once
we start talking about a service as a single, integrated unit, we will be able
to match the level of protection and recovery capability to the availability
and performance needs of the business.
you’re looking to invest in your future data protection solution, you need to
look for a solution that aligns to your SLAs, not the other way around.
About the Author:
Albatal is the vice president of marketing at FalconStor Software. With more than 12 years of
senior level management in the IT market, Albatal has substantial experience
with large-scale storage systems.
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