By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2005-11-21 Print this article Print

The case for disks

To compensate for the deficiencies of tape—the traditional medium for backups—hard-drive-based solutions have emerged in great numbers. Tape-based backup still has a place in the data center because it is portable and a proven technology for long-term archiving, but more and more companies are moving to disk-to-disk backup.

Disk-to-disk systems speed backup, but, more important, they also provide faster recovery than do traditional tape products—a key advantage, considering the importance of business continuity.

Given tapes tendency to wear out and become unreliable on short recycle rotations, we strongly suggest that companies of all sizes consider a disk-to-disk backup system (or the backup-to-disk options included in their backup software) for their daily backup and restore chores.

Most backup systems on the market support D2D2T (disk to disk to tape) backup implementations, where daily and incremental backups are written to disks and are cached on disks for a specific period of time. As time goes on, the backup utility writes the older data sitting on the disk cache to tape, which frees disk space for future backup jobs.

Another emerging form of disk-to-disk backup is CDP (continuous data protection), which ensures that data is protected throughout the business day. Unlike tape-based backup solutions, where backups are usually run only at night and data created during the day is left unprotected, CDP solutions log transactions as they come in. If something bad happens—regardless of whether its due to user error, a virus or some other disaster—an IT manager can roll back data to a period before the corruption event occurred.

Most CDP solutions currently available are from startup companies such as Revivio Inc. and XOsoft or from established hardware vendors such as Storage Technology Corp. However, major backup vendors, including Symantec Corp., with Backup Exec 10d, and Microsoft Corp., with Data Protection Manager, are entering the fray.

Click here for the Labs review of Backup Exec 10d. Click here for eWEEK Labs review of Microsoft DPM. For small businesses that do not even have tape backup, there are solutions such as Lasso Logics Lasso CDP appliance, which runs continuous backups at the office and sends the backed-up data to a hosted data center for off-site storage, eliminating the need for tapes.

Another trend we are seeing in the backup market is tighter integration between security and backup. An example of this is Computer Associates International Inc.s Business Protection Suite r2, which bundles backup management tools with anti-virus and anti-spyware technology.

To read a review of CAs Business Protection Suite r2, click here. However, based on what weve seen so far from vendors such as Symantec and CA, it could be a long time before IT managers have consolidated interfaces for security management and backup. Solutions available today are neatly packaged bundles, which make it easier for IT managers to acquire the technology. Based on what weve seen from CAs Business Protection Suite r2, vendors have made subtle improvements to streamline management of backup and security.

Contact Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar at henry_baltazar@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.


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