TMCnet Feature
January 15, 2021

Enterprise Backup Strategies

Information is widely considered to be one of the most important resources in the modern world. At the same time, technological progress has led to the appearance of a lot of different potential ways of disrupting or stealing said data. In case something happens with the organization’s data, it’s important to have a reserve copy of it so that you don’t have to create everything from the ground up. Enterprise backup systems are the ones tasked with creating those reserve copies, called backups.

The most basic explanation of a backup process describes it as the process of copying data from one place to another. There are two main parts of that process that are crucial for everything to work properly: the hardware and the software. The hardware is represented by the storage appliance that is used to store data, and it can be anything from hard disk drives to extensive server networks. The software, on the other hand, is a specific program that makes the data transportation process possible in the first place.

Enterprise backup specifically is your regular backup process that operates on a much bigger scope than usual – this implies large businesses most of the time. The very nature of the technological progress in recent years has led to some companies going even further and using entire data centers as their data backup locations. The sheer amount of data that every organization relies on to operate properly on a day-to-day basis highlights the necessity of picking the best enterprise backup system for your company.

Enterprise backup market

It would be unfair to say that all of the backup solutions are the same, since the entire market is vast and highly competitive, and newer features or methods are being added regularly to all of them so that they can remain competitive. The main reason for such an active market is, of course, the sheer amount of data that is being exchanged on a daily basis within one single company, and it seems to be growing at an insanely high pace.

Such explosive growth also brings up the necessity for the entire system to be stable and robust so that it won’t go down under the sudden increase of traffic. Add that to the possibility of a worst-case scenario with all of your data being wiped out at once with no backups at hand, and you’ll understand why the backup system is such a necessity for everyone.

Since there’s a lot of cases when the company’s data is simply invaluable, it’s not uncommon for a lot of the players on the backup market to offer tiered backup systems. This means that you’ll have several different backup storage types and data transfer methods available, so that the entire solution is not relying on one single method, no matter how good it is. This also helps a lot with extending the solution’s scalability, which is another important point for any backup solution for enterprises.

As we’ve stated before, the amount of data that a normal company interacts with on a daily basis can grow at an explosive pace, which is why it’s not uncommon for some companies to simply outgrow the capabilities of their backup solution provider. Transferring your data to another system might also be a hassle if your original enterprise backup provider does not offer compatibility with popular data movers, such as Veeam, CommVault (News - Alert), NetBackup, and so on.

Security, bottlenecks, and public clouds

Moving large amounts of data within a small timeframe can easily become an unexpected problem if you’re not prepared. Security and bandwidth are two of the most prominent issues at this stage. 

Something like data encryption is necessary for all of the data mid-transfer and at rest so that no one can gain access to it without specific permission. Data transfer, on the other hand, should be handled outside of the usual working hours so that your entire internal network would not be overloaded by the sudden need to backup petabytes of information.

However, sometimes you can’t just keep expanding your bandwidth limit forever, and this is where various methods of reducing the amount of data are the most helpful. Both compression and deduplication are the most useful examples of those methods. Deduplication, for example, is capable of detecting specific parts of data that you already have on the client-side, meaning that there’s no need to transfer said data into your system again. Some of the cutting-edge deduplication techniques are capable of offering up to 15:1 reduction of the data usage, which is an impressive feat on its own.

Another popular feature that a lot of enterprise backup systems are offering is the ability to save data in public clouds. It is a relatively popular option that can safely meet your expected RPOs and RTOs, and it’s not uncommon for public cloud storage providers to offer a plethora of additional features, such as deduplication, encryption, etc. As with regular backups, saving money on some features within the public cloud as your secondary storage is not the best idea in hindsight and could lead to a lot of problems down the road.

Redundancy, centralization, and data management

As the means of attempting to reduce the overall high backup size, some solutions are offering various redundancy settings. Some examples of the redundancy options might include the number of file versions that are allowed to be kept at the same time, the amount of time before the older copies of the same file would be deleted, and many similar features.

Another problem that sometimes happens with several different backup storage locations is the confusion with how data should be moved between them all. In that case, it’s often possible to create or dedicate a single backup source that could act as a centralized source of the backed up data for all of the other storage locations, distributing copies of it towards different sources.

Data management is another potential problem that can appear in the context of enterprise backup since the sheer scope of the data stored in the form of backups within the same storage type becomes a de-facto database. A lot of companies tend to offer the ability to work with and extract specific files directly from backups, filtering those files based on file names or many other possible parameters.

Bacula Enterprise

An example of a comprehensive backup solution with many capabilities is Bacula Enterprise, offering an extensive list of features, both popular and more case-specific (such as bare metal recovery). There’s also the ability to work with a plethora of different VM types and database types, making Bacula’s solution a good choice for a lot of different fields and companies. Bacula also has an article about enterprise backup solutions that you can use to learn more about the specifics of different enterprise backup features.

There’s a lot of different databases that Bacula is capable of working with, such as:

  • PostgreSQL. Capability to work with PostgreSQL clusters without extensive knowledge about complex scripts or the nuances of backup strategies. Both Point In Time Recovery (PITR) and “Dump” strategies can be used, and Bacula’s own Late Data Inclusion technology allows to include the data that was changed during the process of creating a backup in that same backup.
  • MySQL. Capability to work with MySQL servers without extensive knowledge about complex scripts or the nuances of backup strategies. “Dump” and “Binary” backup strategies are supported, as well as the Point In Time Recovery feature. Allows for an incredibly fast recovery for high-transaction-rate MySQL databases through its integration with Percona (News - Alert) Tools.
  • MS SQL. Full, Differential, and Incremental backup types for MS SQL databases are supported. Full backup creates a copy of all of the database’s files and the log files, Differential backup copies only specific files that changed since the last Full backup was launched, and Incremental backup’s implementation is possible through the Transaction Log backup and allows for Point In Time Recovery mode, as well. There are also several different options when it comes to restoring data from backups since you can change the name of the restored data and its location at will, or restore all of the backup files to disk.
  • Oracle (News - Alert). The Oracle database backup module allows for a simplified process of creating Oracle database backups, and RMAN commands are supported as well. A number of features is also available during the restoration process of Oracle database backups, such as data filtering, restoring a backup to a specific point in time, and choosing between the two different backup strategies – Point In Time Recovery (via Oracle Recovery Manager, or RMAN) or “Dump”.

This is not the complete list, there are many other different database and VM types that Bacula is capable of working with in one way or another. The enterprise backup solution market is vast and varied, and it’s important to know your own needs and priorities when picking a solution for your company. That way, you’ll be able to find a solution that would be the most beneficial for your company.

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