In an age where data has become the lifeblood for business, data protection is the single most important factor for organisations no matter what sector they operate in. The onus is on them to keep sensitive data safe, but it isn’t as simple as they would like it to be.
Traditional data protection is too complex
Traditional backup can cost organisations lots of money, needs to be supported and requires significant administration effort. It can be common for companies to deploy a range of data protection solutions for SAN/NAS systems, physical server backup tools, virtualisation backup tools, cloud backup tools, and more.
This results in a complex and expensive point-based environment with a mish mash of backup software and snapshots. Managing all of them can be an administrative headache and they can be onerous to audit.
Organisations struggle to make sense of the different tools required to recover files, disks, systems or the entire site, each with its own management interface and license. It is also very difficult to attain the data protection flexibility that organisations require when data can be stored in a physical server, virtual host or in the cloud. Traditional data protection solutions are often limited in their ability to protect data irrespective of the platform it’s running on.
The answer could be software-defined
So how can organisations eliminate their data protection silos and introduce common capabilities across their infrastructure? Is it possible to implement a single platform that can protect the entire infrastructure, physical and virtual? This is where software defined storage (SDS) can make a real difference.
By abstracting and virtualising storage into a homogenous layer, SDS can manage all aspects of storage through a single interface and eradicate the need for separate data protection, backup, replication or disaster recovery solutions. Companies can take advantage of proactive centralised monitoring, analytics and configuration across heterogeneous storage infrastructures to keep problems from happening. By creating a single storage platform, SDS can effectively be used as the single data protection platform as well. And by reducing the data protection infrastructure down to a single solution (across all sites and platforms), companies can reduce costs and complexity.
SDS allows businesses to protect their data with custom policies irrespective of where the data is stored: onsite, offsite or in the cloud. The common methodology and abstraction provided by SDS allows organisations to migrate, protect and recover data whenever it is needed. It is also far more accessible, enabling administrators to verify the data protection infrastructure or perform a data recovery from different sources, such as a web-browser, smartphone or tablet.
Testing and validation of data protection mechanisms, an area where many IT department struggle because of the time, cost and manpower required, can be automated on a SDS platform with scheduled recovery testing.
The benefits of SDS
Adopting a SDS approach delivers a range of benefits. It radically simplifies the data protection infrastructure, making it much easier to confirm data is protected, troubleshoot the backup infrastructure if a problem occurs and recover data when required. By eliminating the need for multiple solutions in the data protection infrastructure, SDS reduces the complexity of data protection and enabling automated recovery allows companies to reduce their data protection costs significantly.
Disaster recovery is also dramatically enhanced because data can be replicated to any data centre or to the cloud, making it easier for companies to protect their greatest asset, data. Companies can recover to dissimilar hardware, convert from physical to virtual environments on-the-fly, and even convert virtual too different virtual. Administrators can test their disaster recovery plan without any downtime to the application, making them better prepared for any eventuality.
This is especially valuable for today's organisations as they struggle to counter pernicious and pervasive threats such as those posed by ransomware. Rapid data recovery from anywhere to anywhere provides an effective counter to the threat of ransomware.
Universal data protection
SDS gives companies the capability of deploying the optimal solution: a universal data protection system that works across their entire infrastructure and is simple to use and far more cost-effective than multiple solutions. A reliable and universal data protection system ensures the infrastructure is far more resilient and faster to recover in the event of a disaster.
Organisations can also exploit the versatility and flexibility provided by SDS as and when they start to move their data into the cloud. By liberating data and data protection from the constraints of the traditional siloed array by array, site by site, application by application approach, SDS enables companies to concentrate on their business rather than waste valuable time and resources ascertaining where their data is stored and where it needs to be recovered to.
At a time when the threats posed to companies and their data are all too real, the best protection could be virtual.
Farid Yavari, VP of Technology, FalconStor
Image Credit: Yuri Samoilov / Flickr