The question is: If you can eliminate tape, then can you even eliminate backup? In a recent article, George Crump (http://www.networkcomputing.com/deduplication/you-can-eliminate-backups.php) discussed the implications of eliminating backup altogether. His argument is that with the capabilities of modern storage systems – snapshots, deduplication, compression and replication– you can preserve multiple restore points without the need for a separate backup operation.
He specifically argues: “Using a combination of snapshots, deduplication, compression and replication is a cost-effective way of storing redundant copies. Many primary storage systems support a high number of snapshots and/or unlimited copies of data by leveraging deduplication. Most can then have that data replicated to a remote site so you are covered for a single site disaster. With these features deployed, we now have point-in-time local recovery and total system recovery in case of a disaster covered, but there are some potential drawbacks.”
Using Cloud Storage as the remote replication target in this case will work very well, and will be more cost effective than using your expensive primary storage devices for backup.
With CloudArray, you can create instantaneous snapshots of your data, allowing you to establish multiple remote restore points from a single copy of your data. This doesn’t have to be your primary data store. Cloud Storage can actually become an economical cog in your tiered storage strategy.
But getting back to George’s article, he discusses several drawbacks with using primary storage as your source for your restore points. Basically, they come down to the risk, however small, of not having a separate copy of your data (both physically and logically). Even in cases where you are replicating your data to a remote facility, a logical corruption fault could affect both sites, especially if the fault were with the logic of the de-duplication engine itself.
Some companies have eliminated separate backups very successfully, but it takes a great deal of planning in order to make sure that the restore points will be consistent across applications and data stores. It wouldn’t help you to have your accounts payable tables backed up at one point in time and your inventory shipments at a different point.
But is it right for you?
Maybe, but a safer approach is to still use backup software and write your backup to a physically separate data store than your primary storage. CloudArray can do this for you as well. If you use a backup product that can write to disk (D2D), then you can write to CloudArray and a copy of the backup images will be kept locally as well as in the Cloud. Restores will always come from the local CloudArray disk cache if you size it properly, and in the event of a total site disruption, a copy of your data will still be housed safely offsite and can be recovered from any site you choose.
Eliminating tape is a good first step. Eliminating backup entirely might be an option for you down the road (or not). Remember the cardinal rule: “To go forward, you must backup.” So you probably shouldn’t be in a rush to eliminate it. But if you have lost your mind because you’ve backed it up on tape somewhere, then without CloudArray, you may never get it back!