Data Backup and Recovery: Growing Data Storage Requirements Create Backup Problems (Part II)

In my previous post, Data Backup and Recovery: Growing Data Storage Requirements Create Backup Problems (Part I), I wrote about how home computer owners were experiencing increased data storage requirements that create data backup problems. Businesses of all sizes face the same delima. Large businesses usually have IT departments that have processes for acquiring storage products and managing them as well. It's the medium-size and small businesses that tend to overlook the cost of maintaining and backing up new databases and data storage as they grow and implement new business applications.

When I was the IT director for Technology Builders, Inc. (TBI), we restricted the size of our employee's email storage to about 50Mb each. The limit had nothing to do with the cost of the server or the disk storage, instead it had everything to do with our ability to backup the Exchange Server Information Store. The backup problem was more than just media. We were constrained by our backup window as well as the number of tapes and the offsite transportation and storage. The backup jobs had to be complete before 7 AM so that the tapes could be placed in a container and picked up by our offsite storage provider. I often got an ear-full from sales people and sales engineers who couldn't understand why I wouldn't just order a couple of bigger hard-drives and increase their mailbox limits. They thought I was just restricting them because I didn't think they really needed more mailbox space. Actually there was some truth to that premise, because I know from experience that it doesn't matter how much space you allocate, people will fill it up and want more. However, what they failed to get a grasp of was the total cost of a faster tape backup system, more tapes, more offsite storage space and the ongoing maintenance of the backup system as well as the media. These costs made the cost of a few bigger disk drives look minuscule.

I am now trying to balance data storage needs for Orasi Software, Inc. We have a growing employee base and a number of technical employees that want to store everything online from multiple versions of software installation media, to virtual machine images. As I was ranting about in my previous post, we keep finding new way to consume disk space and the new ways seem to be exponentially more consuming every year. These virtual machine images can be huge! At Orasi, we are way past tape storage as a backup media and we use online backup, in some cases moving copies of data between multiple locations for offsite storage. No tapes! No tape library hardware! That's a good thing, but online backup is not a good solution for backing up 16GB virtual machine images.

There is no way I am going back to the tapes. Just like I backup my MP3 collection to a portable hard drive at home; I am going to use some portable hard drives to make occasional backups of some of the less-than-critical storage hogs at Orasi. Online backup will continue to be the solution for business critical data where we need current versions offsite for business continuity purposes.

1 comment:

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