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Simplifying storage: how companies benefit with a backup appliance approach. (SAN).

The only option companies used to have available to them when it came to complete storage management (that is, backup, archive and disaster recovery) was to purchase each component they needed separately--from the library to the software, and then either put the software on an existing server or buy a new box to be a server. But purchasing these components separately can be expensive.

In fact, the costs of managing data today have risen dramatically. According to one study by Strategic Research Corp., typical organizations spend over $350,000 annually on storage management. The same study found that the average cost for managing storage grew by 27 percent in one year alone, principally for four reasons:

* Lost user productivity: From time spent manually managing storage space, "out of disk space" conditions and locating lost files.

* Lost administrator productivity: From time spent dispatching user requests for restores and scheduling backups and recoveries.

* Lost organizational productivity: From storage failures that prevent access to crucial data.

* Storage maintenance and repair expenses: From repair of disabled storage devices.

And what about managing the storage once you've got it? Although it costs $1 per megabyte to acquire hard disk storage for the client server network, it costs an organization an additional $8 per megabyte each year to manage the storage. In the study, the cost components to storage management include managing file structures and assuring adequate storage capacity, lost productivity due to storage unavailability and corruption, and administrative tasks such as capacity management, backup, restore, archiving, installation, fault handling and reconfiguration.

In addition, each network user and administrator must spend time out of every week managing network storage data organization and computers. In order to use a baseline that is acceptable, the typical corporation spends $7 per megabyte annually to manage network storage, typically reaching over $300,000 per year.

Then, what if your storage solution doesn't work? Where do you go to get your money back--more importantly, your lost data?

Unfortunately, data stored on disk drives can too easily be lost. The National Archives & Records Administration in Washington reports that 93 percent of companies they surveyed, that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster, filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. Fifty percent of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately.

The average company spends between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in total ramifications per year for desktop-oriented disasters (both hard and soft costs), according to the 7th Annual ICSA Lab's Virus Prevalence Survey (March 2002).

Even a single megabyte of lost data is costly. A 1998 Pepperdine University study, "The Cost of Lost Data," estimated that the average incident of lost, stolen or damaged data cost companies more than $2,500 per affected PC. The same report estimated that the cost of lost data to the U.S. economy totaled more than $11.8 billon.

Simplify and Address Three Critical Storage Needs

How can you simplify, reduce costs and still have superior data protection? STORServer, was one of the first companies to introduce a new approach to storage: the "backup appliance," designed so that customers buy a single box that includes everything in one package--from disks and tape libraries, to software, to the case it's all housed in. Since it's an all-in-one appliance, it's as easy to use as plug and play.

An all-in-one backup appliance allows companies to retrieve both their backup and archived information within minutes. Backup copies of data are stored on tape within the appliance, and archived data can be stored on local shelves, near-line storage, or also in the appliance. Disaster-recovery capabilities in a backup appliance keeps an off-site copy of both the backups and archives, allowing the backups and archives to remain on-site. Traditional backup and recovery products typically don't offer online data retrieval, making immediate access to saved information next to impossible.

A backup appliance should address all three critical storage areas, and be quick and easy to install and simple to use. The definition of each component within a backup appliance includes:

Backup: Online copy of every file a customer has identified for restore. The default should allow for the standard business requirements of a 45-day retention of any file once it is deleted or changed. A customer, however, can set the data retention time for a file at any length, shorter or longer. Backup files should include all files--op/sys, hidden files, databases (DB), flat files, DOC/XLS/PPT files, etc.

Archive: Onsite point-in-time capture of any file or set of files. These files need to be saved for some business or legal time requirement, from months to years. Also, these may be files that no longer need to sit on more expensive active or spinning disks, but need to be moved to a cheaper media.

Disaster Recovery: Copies of all online, copied data (backup) and onsite saved data (archive). Customers can change their disaster recovery copies to one or more locations, preferably copied simultaneously. Offsite copies can be media removed manually, or copies electronically vaulted. A daily disaster-recovery plan can be optionally provided as a function of disaster recovery.

In addition, a backup appliance must allow for automation and long-term management flexibility around:

Media: Since media specifications are constantly changing for disk, tape and optical technologies, a backup appliance should provide for virtualization of data storage, allowing the media in a storage pool or bucket to be changed, migrated, updated, distributed and consolidated across locally attached, network attached or SAN managed locations. Over time, the data on media should not be limited by media decisions, and should not require later restoration in order to be moved to a new media.

Platforms: IT departments have to remain flexible in managing their data across many platforms and many networks. The backup appliance should allow for backups and archives to be performed in a like manner across all popular platforms.

Finally, a backup appliance must include all the hardware, software and integration of a backup solution in one appliance. Optimally, the appliance should include a logical plug and play mix of the hardware components for both:

Scalability: A backup appliance must offer a customer the flexibility to grow, both by upgrading the solution they own, and a forklift upgrade option to move seamlessly into a larger solution.

Support: With all the hardware, software and integration for a backup solution included in one delivered product, the backup appliance should provide for a one warranty, one support maintenance capability.

Another user, Pueblo County Government, says it has saved the equivalent of a full-time network administrator once it installed a backup appliance, since it restores files automatically.

A backup appliance can provide a return on investment of only months by:

* Reducing your storage expansion costs, by eliminating the need to duplicate data across users, networks and by storing inactive data in archive packets.

* Reducing your network management costs by eliminating the need to backup data already backed up and available. No more full backup requirements, since the data is already backed up and online.

* Eliminating productivity losses due to backup or archive inaccessibility.

* Reducing downtime from lengthy restore or retrieve operations, because all of a user or manager's data is available for restore online or retrieval onsite.

John Pearring is president at STORServer (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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Article Details
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Author:Pearring, John
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2003
Previous Article:Dynamic SAN optimization: Leveraging SANs in ways never though possible. (SAN).
Next Article:Filling the storage gap: nearline innovations extend scope of existing enterprise storage capabilities. (SAN).

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