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Fast-Forwarding Enterprise Backup

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IT rituals: data backup

A revolution is in the offing for one of the most time-honored and familiar IT rituals: data backup. As Digital Business continues to multiply the volume of incoming data, the average enterprise backup has reached a petabyte or more in scale. This is pushing conventional storage techniques past their inherent limitations, and certainly beyond sustainable cost.

At petabyte scale, the TCO of dedicated backup appliances and NAS becomes prohibitive. Secondly, large-scale backups are difficult and complex operations. If disk drives fail—and let’s face it, a small fraction always will—the entire system slows down. If your backup drives number in the hundreds, failure-induced downtime is frequent enough to compromise availability and make backup windows difficult to meet. Another challenge is regularly scheduled downtime for maintenance, to make sure that the system stays up during business hours. With global commerce now taking place 24×7, this facet of traditional storage backup has also become problematic.

Clearly, there’s a need for new strategies, which prompts the question: What would an ideal petabyte-scale backup environment look like? To begin with, it would scale out—rather than up—quickly and affordably.  It would absorb hardware failures without missing a beat or impacting the business. And it would be completely reliable in all other respects.

Sound like a pipe dream?  It’s not: the Scality RING object storage platform meets all these criteria for mass-scale backup.

The RING is software-driven, decoupling storage from actual physical hardware to create a giant pool of available resources. The hardware itself can be literally anything in the x86 realm. The RING runs on low-cost, easily deployed commodity servers from HP, Dell, Cisco, Supermicro, and others. You can mix and match models and vendors, with no data migration required. When it’s time to add capacity, simply plug in additional servers and let the software handle the rest. Choose whatever hardware offers the best mix of density, performance, support, and price point in the market. And watch your TCO savings add up.

You can scale to an unlimited number of objects and capacity. Native support for file-based storage, plus compatibility with Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3, allow you to use any backup application. And the RING is—remarkably—100% reliable. It has no single point of failure: when a drive takes a nose-dive, other disks and nodes automatically shoulder its load. There’s no system downtime or scheduled maintenance to impact operations. Data rebuilds take minutes, not days, thanks to erasure coding plus the inherent advantages of object architecture, which enable the RING to engage many more hard disk drives than any standard storage appliance can.

The scenario gets even better: as a software-driven platform, the RING operates seamlessly across multiple sites. If you have 6 offices, for example, you can replace 6 separate backup systems with a single, consolidated Scality RING. Got applications running in the cloud on Amazon Web Services?  The RING makes a perfect low-cost, highly secure on-premises backup platform. It’s fully S3 compatible, with native support for AWS IAM enterprise-grade security.

One more factor to consider: Though most enterprise data remains file-based, plenty of applications are on the way that store unstructured content—for example, video on demand, exam screen snapshots for hospitals and labs, Internet of Things (IoT) storage, long-term archiving of voice recordings for regulatory compliance, and video surveillance… just to name a few. Deploy the Scality RING now, and your backup infrastructure is future-proofed for these applications later.

Watch this space in the coming months for a closer examination of specific Scality RING advantages and backup use cases.

Follow me on Twitter: @jlecat

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