Backup Appliances: 15 Burdens to Beware

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Backup of data is one of the imperatives of business. No compromise is possible. Every CIO lives in dread of arriving at the data center one day and finding that backups have failed. This situation is more common than you would believe! The problem of failed backups is very real. However, thanks to cloud backup technology, the problem is gradually fading into a memory for a growing number of CIOs and database managers.

Before describing the features of cloud backup technology and persuading you that it is the way to go, let us deal with the question that is often asked by first-time buyers of backup technologies: “Appliance or no appliance?”

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Many backup vendors offer appliance-based backup. Even some cloud vendors recommend the use of appliance-based backup for redundancy and portability. But using appliance-based backup as the only backup method is not recommended for the reasons listed below:

1. Appliances are pieces of hardware that occupy data center space;
2. Backup space available in the physical appliance is not scalable;
3. Appliances can be easily accessed by employees;
4. Appliances can be stolen or misplaced or damaged;
5. Appliances must be insured at some cost;
6. Appliances require investment in power, temperature control mechanisms and physical security systems – all of which increase the cost of maintaining the equipment;
7. The backup will be accessible only from the physical device;
8. A backup of the backup appliance is generally advised, and this results in manual duplication of backup systems;
9. Appliances require the installation of specified software on the server;
10. Appliance operationalization software is almost never platform independent;
11. Installation of the appliance on the server can be difficult and time consuming;
12. Configuring the appliance to perform according to enterprise needs may be complicated and may require high levels of technical expertise;
13. Failure to configure the appliance correctly may result in backup failures;
14. Backup failure alerts may or may not be generated by the appliance, and missed backups may not be flagged immediately;
15. The appliance vendor’s support systems may not deliver to Service Level Agreement (SLA), and this could lead to data loss and even business loss.

Appliance-Free Cloud Backups


Cloud-based backup systems do not require the installation of any kind of appliance on your server. You save on data center space, power, temperature control mechanisms, initial hardware costs, hardware update costs, insurance and installation costs. Employee access to the backups can be regulated using sophisticated access protocols that come packaged with the backup software. There is no physical appliance to guard!

Thin Client Installs


Cloud backup services like Zetta.net, MozyPro, and CrashPlan can be utilized by downloading a lightweight, client-side utility that installs on the local server. No specialized applications need to be installed. User-friendly wizards and interfaces guide the user through the process of configuring and managing the backup from the client side. Backups can be scheduled – or automated to kick-start daily, weekly, monthly or bi-monthly – as convenient. Failed backups generate email- and server-level alerts, and causes of failures are logged meticulously, both locally and remotely.

Best Breeds


Cloud backup companies proactively include continuous monitoring as part of the Service Level Agreement (SLA), and they make efforts to reach out to their customers via phone or email for resolving any problem flagged by the system or reported by the customer. It also helps if the company in question provides 24 x 7 x 365 support services that are accessible over the phone around the clock.

Scalable and Portable


Cloud backup services are entirely scalable. Your backups do not have to fall off just because you have run out of space on the disc. You can sign up for a backup service that will automatically retain all of your backups as per the archival policies you define for your backup. Older backups may be automatically removed onto removable backup drives on request, or may be allowed to fall off after a customer-specified period of time. Disaster recovery sites, hot sites and mirror sites are set up to safeguard customers’ business information.

Companies that are using cloud backup software can secure their backup using sophisticated user access management protocols that come packaged with the client utility. For instance, Zetta.net’s clients can specify the backup policies, data access policies and data archival policies by using the same user-friendly graphical user interface. Unlike with appliance-based backups, the cloud-based backups can be accessed by authorized users from anywhere, anytime and with any kind of device .

With so many advantages to a cloud backup, is it really surprising that people are still asking the question, “Appliance or no appliance?” when it comes to backing up data? If they are afraid to entrust their data to a third party or fear evaporation of data into cyberspace, they should be assured that cloud-based backups are much safer that appliance-based backup solutions.