Backup systems have come a long way from the days when they were seen merely as expensive insurance policies for data. During the past few years, backup vendors have improved their products to the point where even basic workgroup-level applications have dozens of features.
Business continuity and data preservation mandates require that IT managers not only create backups but also be able to recover data in a timely fashion. Because of new regulations and compliance measures, among other things, backup is one of the few applications that virtually every company either has or needs to implement.
Backup is a highly competitive market, and with so many solutions to choose from, it is important for IT managers to have a strong grasp of their environment and their business needs before beginning the RFP process.
Obviously, a business that can stand to lose a few hours worth of data will have a decidedly different (and far less expensive) backup implementation than will a business that needs to protect every transaction processed.
The security of removable media and WORM storage has become an important issue, along with basic backup features. This years rash of embarrassing headlines about tape thefts and losses has made encryption a requirement for virtually every company that needs to transport tapes off-site to a data vault. Although tapes can be encrypted using a stand-alone encryption device such as one from Decru Inc. or NeoScale Systems Inc., most backup solutions do have basic encryption capabilities.
The level of encryption and the key management of these bundled solutions may not be acceptable for larger companies with strict compliance requirements, but smaller businesses may find that the basic bundled functions ably meet their needs.
WORM is another requirement for companies with data retention needs. On the market today are several tape drives that have WORM capabilities, and IT staffs can also opt for disk-based solutions that are WORM-enabled.
Disk-to-disk backup and management consolidation with security and other storage products are two major trends in the backup market today, and they speak to the importance of improved recovery times and manageability.