Gartner Research VP Dave Russell recently published a new report, “The Future of Backup May Not Be Backup” (22 September 2011). I’ve spoken with Dave Russell on numerous occasions, and I’ve always found him to be among the most knowledgeable and perceptive of industry observers. He not only sees the big picture, but he can get down into the details with you, as well. His latest report doesn’t disappoint.
Russell goes into a lot of detail about where the backup industry may be heading. If your organization is a Gartner subscriber, I highly recommend you download the report and read the whole thing. I could spend hours commenting on it, but for the moment I want to pick up one point.
Russell brings up the topic of snapshots and how the data protection industry – can’t really call it “backup” once you wander into the snapshot realm – is heading more and more in that direction. Now that alone is hardly shocking news. Analysts all over have been touting snapshots, and I’ve blogged about it a number of times myself. The difference here is the additional data Russell brings to the discussion.
First, Russell connects snapshots with Gartner’s prediction that 30% of organizations, or more, will be switching their current mode of data protection by 2014. That is a huge, huge number for something as traditionally “sticky” as backup software. In fact, it’s enough to call it a revolution in my opinion. At Syncsort, we’re certainly seeing that when we talk to customers. There is a large and growing demand for better ways of doing things.
Second, Russell brings up numerous issues around dissatisfaction with current technologies that are creaking along, unchanged for decades. Traditional backup and restore are slow, slow, slow, high-impact and slow. The problem is bad enough that after a long period of users looking to consolidate backup products, they are again willing to add new products if it will help get the job done. My own feeling is that few IT shops will add new data protection products willingly. Why would you want multiple backup silos? You don’t, unless you can’t find a better way to get things done. Hence, the reason we have seen the proliferation of virtual machine specific backup tools and product-specific tools, such as those protecting SharePoint.
Since the problem is “slow, slow, high-impact and slow” you want something that’s “fast, fast, low-impact and fast.” And that something is snapshots.
In most cases, users deploy snapshots on primary storage. But the problem there is that you don’t usually have the kinds of tools you’re used to with traditional backup software. Tools like a catalog of your data, application-awareness, and well-constructed recovery workflows. Plus, if you’ve got two or three different disk vendors on the floor, you’ve got two or three different snapshot tools. This gets messy and inefficient.
This is where NetApp Syncsort Integrated Backup really excels. NSB brings the speed, power and efficiency of NetApp snapshots to any storage environment. Plus, you have a catalog, application-awareness (even for SharePoint), and wizard-driven recovery workflows that can restore a file, a volume, a VMDK, a database, even an entire server. VMware integration lets you restore any backup as a virtual machine in minutes, as we showed over and over at VMworld 2011 during our Race to Recovery where people selected randomly from the audience were able to restore entire VMs in under two minutes.
The secret sauce in all this is the NetApp Snapshot technology that lets us back up only changed blocks yet be able to access each backup as a full data image instantly. NetApp makes it fast and Syncsort makes it easy. It’s a nice combination, and one more reason why every day new users are learning that snapshots are the future, and the future is now!