Tips to Choosing the Right Backup Appliance for Your Size Organization

The good news from an organizational perspective is that when looking for a backup appliance there is a wide range of them from which to choose. That is also the bad news. Having so many choices behooves organizations to first understand their particular needs before selecting a backup appliance.

To do so, they need to look behind just the size of their company (how many employees they have or what their annual revenue is) and instead examine the amount of data they have and how fast it is growing. Other factors they need to examine include:

  • How much data they need to protect
  • What percentages of their environment are physical and virtual
  • How quickly they need to backup and recover their data
  • What their availability requirements are for the backup appliance
  • Do they need to replicate data to another site or to the cloud

Once they have established their requirements, they are then better positioned to identify a backup appliance that aligns with their specific needs and size.

Small Business Backup Appliance Requirements

Small businesses are defined as those that have a couple of TBs or less of data to protect.  These organizations will want to start with those backup appliances that supports at least one (1) TB of raw storage capacity. In addition, small businesses should also verify a backup appliance offers: 

  • Cloud connectivity.  While cloud connectivity may not be a “must-have” Day 1, businesses should verify the backup appliance either offers it now or has a roadmap to provide a cloud connectivity in the years to come as storing data in the cloud is likely to become highly desirable if not an outright business requirement.
  • Deduplication. Deduplication is almost a prerequisite to maximize storage capacity on backup appliances. While over 90 percent of backup appliances support deduplication, those few that do not are found in this entry level range of backup appliances.
  • Replication. A business will want replication if they want to place a backup appliance in another site and replicate data to it for redundancy or if they are a remote office and need to replicate data back to a central office.
  • VMware support. Support for server virtualization with VMware support specifically viewed as a prerequisite. Unless a business definitely knows it is going to remain physical, virtualization is likely in your not-too-distant future as small businesses are among the most likely to fully virtualize their environment in the years to come.
  • Web GUI. Small businesses want “simple and easy management” and a web interface to the backup appliance meets this requirement nicely. The good news is that 80 percent of backup appliances provide this functionality.

Midsized Business Backup Appliance Requirements

Midsized businesses are defined as those that need to protect anywhere from as little as 2 TBs of data to as much as 50TBs though 10 TBs of data to protect is generally how much data midsized business have to protect. In addition to the features that small businesses need to look for on a backup appliance, midsized businesses also need to look for two more features:

  • Up to 10 TBs or more of storage capacity. Deduplication helps but more data to protect usually means backup appliance needs more storage capacity. To meet this need identify backup appliances that increase storage capacity using either direct accessed storage (DAS) or networked attached storage (NAS). 75 percent of backup appliances support DAS and 77 percent support NAS.
  • Application integration. Midsized businesses are more likely to have mission critical applications such as either Microsoft Exchange or SQL Server running in their environment.  While most backup appliances protect these applications (Exchange – 73%; SQL Server – 82%), it behooves businesses to check before they make a buying decision.

Large Business Backup Appliance Requirements

Large businesses are defined as those that need to protect anywhere from as little as 10 TBs of data to 100 TBs or more.  However 50 TBs of data is a logical jumping off point for large businesses. These businesses require all backup appliance features available that small and midsized businesses need though large businesses introduce new backup appliance hardware and availability demands.

Robust hardware features define backup appliances intended for use by large businesses.  Dual controllers, high levels of cache, and scale out architectures are just some of the features that come into play as these size businesses look to both accelerate backup jobs as well as seamlessly grow the appliance to meet the growing numbers of backup jobs and data volumes in their environment.

To further help organizations find the right backup appliance for their environment, DCIG recently released its DCIG 2012 Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide. This Buyer’s Guide provides organizations of all sizes the information they need to educate themselves about the backup appliances that are available as well as what features they offer. You may download this Buyer’s Guide for free with registration at the following link.

Jerome M. Wendt

About Jerome M. Wendt

President & Lead Analyst of DCIG, Inc. Jerome Wendt is the President and Lead Analyst of DCIG Inc., an independent storage analyst and consulting firm. Mr. Wendt founded the company in September 2006.

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