Protection of data, especially ‘Big Data,’ seems to be affecting every large organisation globally. According to the latest figures from IDC, businesses are having to deal with 50 percent more data year-on-year. To make matters worse, outdated technologies such as file-based backup are making it nearly impossible for companies to protect their data. On the recovery side, many organisations are seeing single applications grow into multi-terabytes of data. This is making it difficult to meet service level agreements for recovering mission-critical applications and data in a timely manner.


It is time to accept the fact that conventional information technology models simply cannot cope with all this data and protect it reliably. In fact, statistics from a recent survey of large European organisations found companies that lose access to business-critical data experience a 32 percent reduction in their ability to generate profits. Clearly a new approach is needed as organisations increasingly recognise that having conventional data protection and recovery technology in place is no longer adequate. However, organisations have been using file-level backup for decades and it is often all they know. Where can they turn for a solution?

Block-level backup and Snapshot technology could very well be the answer. Block-level backup is able to track blocks of data that exist beneath the file level. Every file is made up of numerous blocks of data and typically only a small percentage of blocks change when a file is updated. If files are too numerous or too large to move within the required time window, the logical course of action is to investigate if the data blocks can be moved instead. 

Snapshot technology works just like a camera as it captures data at a moment in time. This means data can be captured and recovered quickly because it’s a single identifiable image that is logically consistent.  As well, Snapshots can use block-level data to re-create individual files or complete data volumes. This means that users are able to get full backup results at a fraction of the cost and effort that it would take using conventional backup. 

The efficiency gained can surpass conventional backup methods by as much as 90 per cent or more. By moving less data, backup times also shrink dramatically. A real-world example of this is with IPC, a Franchisee Purchasing Cooperative for the SUBWAY restaurant stores. IPC was able to take a nightly backup window surpassing 12 hours and now backs up servers in only minutes each, eliminating nearly all backup concerns.   

If recovery is what is most important, Snapshot technology is again your choice, but only if you have a catalogue of data in place. This is because whilst Snapshot technology captures data easily, you don’t know where the data resides so you might end up having hundreds of Snapshots to look through - unless of course it’s teamed with a catalogue.

With many of today’s largest and most successful businesses being more data driven than ever before, the need to revisit data protection and recovery policies has never been so important. By ensuring that they can effectively and efficiently protect and recover critical business information, organisations can treat data with the respect it deserves, like a cherished moment in a photo album. 

Posted by Peter Eicher, Senior Product Specialist - Data Protection, Syncsort Incorporation
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