Having been hands-on in service provider land for the entirety of my career prior to joining Veeam, I understand the pain points that come with offering backup and recovery services. I’ve spent countless hours working on getting the best combination of hardware and software for those services. I also know firsthand the challenges that storage platforms pose for architecture, engineering and operations teams who design, implement and manage these platforms.
An immutable truth that exists in our world is that backup and storage go hand in hand and you can’t have one without the other. In recent times, there has been an extreme growth in the amount of data being backed up and the sprawl of that data has also become increasingly challenging to manage. While data is growing quicker than it ever has, in relative terms the issues created by that haven’t changed in the last ten or so years — though they have been magnified.
Focusing on storage, those that have deployed any storage platform understand that there will come a point where hardware and software constraints start to come into play. I’ve not yet experienced or heard of a storage system that doesn’t apply some limitation on scale or performance at some point. Whether you are constrained by physical disk or controller based limits or software overheads, the reality is no system is infinitely scalable and free of challenge.
The immediate solution to resolve these challenges in my experience (and anecdotally) has always been to throw more hardware at the platforms by purchasing more. Whether it be performance or disk constraints, the end result is always to expand capacity or upgrade the core hardware components to get the system back to a point where it’s performing as expected.
That said, there are a number of systems that do work well, and if architected and managed in the correct way will offer longer term service sustainability. When it comes to designing storage for backup data, the principals that are used to design for other workloads such as virtual machines cannot be applied. Backup data is a long game and portability of that data should be paramount when choosing what storage to use.
How Veeam helps
Veeam offers tights integration with a number of top storage vendors via our storage integrations. Not only do these integrations offer flexibility to our customers and partners, but they also offer absolute choice and mobility when it comes to the short and long-term retention of backup data.
Extending that portability message — the way in which backup data is stored should mean that when storage systems reach the end of their lifetime, data isn’t held a prisoner to the hardware. Another inevitability of storage is that there will come a time when it needs replacing. This is where Veeam’s hardware agnostic, software-defined approach to backup comes into play.
Recently, there have been a number of products that have come into the market that offer an all-in-one solution for data protection in the form of software tied to hardware appliances. The premise of these offerings is ease of use and single platform to manage. While it’s true that all-in-one solutions are attractive, there is a sting in the tail of any platform that offers software that is tied to hardware.
Fundamentally, the issues that apply to storage platforms apply to these all-in-one appliances. They will reach a point where performance starts to struggle, upgrades are required and, ultimately, systems need to be replaced. This is where the ability to have freedom of choice and a decoupled approach to software and hardware ultimately results in total control of where your backup data is stored, how it performs and when that data is required to be moved or migrated.
You only achieve this through backup software that’s separated from the hardware. While it might seem like a panacea to have an all-in-one solution, there needs to be consideration as to what this means three, five or ten years into the future. Again, portability and choice is king when it comes to choosing a backup vendor. Lock in should be avoided at all costs.