The Reason to Disk-Size Data Protection for Your Enterprise

Is there a one size fits all data backup and recovery solution for your users? No. Are some common factors for sizing possible in building a solution. Most certainly. With all of the options available for data protection and recovery, though, it is hard to know which option might be the best for your user-based data. Let’s take a look at the current data protection landscape first, then dive into how an appliance approach to sizing might might you build a solution for everyone in your corporate environment. Appliance implementations of data protection rely heavily on best practices mixed with both user practices and constantly advancing technology.

According to the March 2013 InformationWeek Backup Technologies Survey (

  • The Best Data Backup and Recovery Solution73% of users use the same system for backing up physical and virtual servers. This is down from 79% in January 2011, indicating the rising adoption of VM-specific backup systems.
  • 66% of users still back up directly to tape. Although, for 33%, use is limited.
  • 56% of users back up 100% of their physical servers at least weekly, and only 52% back up to their virtual servers.
  • 39% of users do not encrypt any backup media.
  • 27% of users are extremely confident  they can get their business up and running again in a reasonable timeframe, even if a major disaster takes out their main data center.
  • 18% of users use VMware-specific backup software

The big takeaway from this survey is that there is no common way to size and fits a user-based data protection solution from field survey results. When it comes to backup and recovery systems, people are all over the place.

Disk recovery is more suitable for 24×7 operations, where switching the system offline for a nightly backup to tape or some other media is not feasible. Many companies, though, still rely solely on tape backup due to its low cost and suitability to store data and move it from place to place by media. In essence, these companies probably presume that their data doesn’t need to be retrieved frequently. For most purposes, due to all company information existing in digitized formats, tape storage has been relegated almost completely to archive or offsite disaster recovery copies. Tape recovery from both local and off-site may present lengthy delays. Companies have steadily migrated from the tape to hard disks for backup tasks due to the falling costs of high-volume SATA, SAS, and SSD. In addition, since deduplication saves on the resulting disk storage requirements, tape even for disaster recovery copies may not be cost-effective. Deduplication is seldom recommended when using tape, so tape storage requirements now far exceed disk.

Architecting the proper disk size for a backup environment primarily depends upon two factors:

  1. Deduplication ratio – how much does deduplication reduce the total amount of physical bits required to store
  2. Retention policies – how long should you keep your data, and how many versions of each set of data do you need

Backup Appliances can identify common deduplication ratios based upon a wide swath of users. 50% reduction is a standard amount of savings that we see, with some customers going much higher. Not many get lower than 50%. Retention policies are strictly based upon industry rules mixed with recovery goals. A common rule is 30 days online with somewhere between 2-5 versions, and monthly archives for long-term retention. Archiving usually tops out at 5% of a customer’s data per month.

Taking a hint from backup appliance architectures, use these averages to expect the worst amount of dedupe, not the best; and, use the longer periods of retention and archived data, not the shortest.

With users often in remote offices or at home, applying disk storage on a per user basis is expensive and impractical to manage. The employees in these remote offices rarely have specialized IT skills to complete regular backups, so they set up stand-alone drives, or purchase cloud storage. The popular solution for users, even at a corporate environment, is to belong to a corporate solution for both LAN and WAN-based users. Users can’t be expected to manually save or transfer crucial information. Seldom is this effective. Add your users to your corporate sizing for disk usage.

STORServer offers customized solutions for data protection, backup and recovery since we believe that every business is unique in its data backup needs. STORServer’s cloud solutions and services are backed by STORServer’s award-winning and purpose-built data protection appliance, and they come with a Data Recovery Guarantee. Our plans include private and public cloud offering for disaster recovery and managed cloud service for automated backup, archive and disaster recovery. Contact us to learn about all of the different data backup and recovery solutions available to you today.