Every company periodically reviews the backup solution it uses to protect and recover its data. However, as companies review which backup solution they want, it also behooves them to consider new modern ways in which to procure it.
You Buy It, You Build It
Organizations may still opt to obtain their backup solution in the traditional way. They may buy the backup software as well as the server and storage hardware needed to host. They may then install all these components, configure them, and manage the solution themselves.
However, this approach represents only one of many ways in which providers currently deliver their backup solutions. As organizations look to obtain a new backup solution or even simply refresh their existing one, they should consider modern deployment options.
Here are some other ways that providers currently deliver their backup solutions.
Backup appliances ship pre-configured from the manufacturers. These appliances include the hardware and software that organizations need to quickly transition to configuring it to protect their environment.
Shipping pre-configured, organizations do not have to invest time identifying, obtaining, and configuring the hardware. The provider or one of its partners will work with each company to understand its backup requirements. Once quantified, it will recommend an appliance model that most closely aligns with the company’s needs.
Using a backup appliance, the provider may assume all responsibility for it. This includes the appliance’s maintenance and upkeep if one purchases a support contract. As new software fixes, patches, releases, and upgrades come out, the provider’s support staff applies them to the appliance.
It also handles all ongoing support for the hardware as well. This includes the obvious break/fix scenarios. It also assumes responsibility the less intuitive compatibility issues that can arise between the underlying hardware’s firmware and the provider’s software.
By giving the provider complete oversight of the appliance, it improves the odds the appliance works as designed. It also puts the provide on the hook to take the lead in resolving any interoperability issues should they arise.
Virtual appliances resemble backup appliances in that the provider delivers its backup software pre-configured and ready to run. However, delivered as a virtual appliance only requires that a company install it on an existing physical host. This host must support a hypervisor such as one from Microsoft, Nutanix, or VMware.
Virtual appliances often make the most sense for organizations that need to deploy backup in virtualized remote and branch offices. Virtual appliances are simple to deploy and often do not require new hardware to support them.
That said, organizations need to exercise caution when deploying virtual appliances. Backups can consume large amounts of storage capacity. They can also monopolize processing power on a hypervisor host during backups. Due to these requirements, organizations should primarily deploy virtual appliances where backups will not disrupt production applications.
Hyperconverged Backup Solutions
Hyperconverged backup solutions address the limitations of physical and virtual backup appliances and capitalize on their respective benefits. Hyperconverged architectures facilitate ease of scaling storage capacity and processing that organizations need to support a growing backup operation. Hyperconverged infrastructures also virtualize their underlying hardware resources.
Backup solutions based on a hyperconverged architecture facilitates its ability to start small and then scale as needed. This freedom to scale also better facilitates the hyperconverged backup appliance being used for other business use cases. This include using it as a backup target, for test and development, and for disaster recoveries.
Rather than buying a backup solution outright, organizations may subscribe to back up as a SaaS offering. Delivered this way, organizations no longer necessarily need to consider how to set up or support the product. They still need to understand its architecture and features and ensure their infrastructure match their requirements. However, once they subscribe to the service, the vendor handles the backup solution’s deployment and management of its underlying services.
The organization then only needs to focus on utilizing the backup solution’s features, such as backup, recovery, etc. The provider takes care of everything else. This includes making sure that the solution’s underlying hardware and software keeps pace with the organization’s changing backup and recovery requirements.
BaaS closely resembles SaaS and some may even interchange the two terms. DCIG primarily views a BaaS offering as only residing and being delivered as a cloud offering. One still subscribes to BaaS in the same way as SaaS. Unlike SaaS, BaaS providers do not install any hardware or software on-premises or only provide limited flexibility to do so.
BaaS offerings primarily run in general-purpose clouds, such as Azure, AWS, or GCP. The BaaS offerings then utilize the compute and storage resources of these cloud providers. Designed in the cloud, they can dynamically scale their solution up and down as backup requirements dictate. Further, organizations will generally only pay for the cloud storage resources that their backup data consumes.
BaaS makes it very easy for organizations to start using backup immediately. However, one question every organizations should ask is, “How broadly can they use the BaaS solution?” Some BaaS solutions can protect data both on-premises and in the cloud in which it resides. Others can only protect applications and data in the cloud.
Options within Options
As one can see, vendors now give organizations multiple options to deploy backup solutions. While organizations can still procure backup software and install it themselves, that no longer represents the best or only approach for doing so.
Even within the six backup delivery options listed above, organizations will find slight variations in how each one delivers backup. For example, vendors vary in how they configure and deliver backup appliances. Some only offer a few models. Others offer a dozen or more. Still others package their backup software on file servers.
View these six delivery options for backup solutions as a starting point for your decision-making proces. Once you identify an approach or approaches you like, you will likely find variations within each category that best meets your specific use case.