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Four Tips to Evaluating (and Lowering) Backup’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in Your Environment

By August 6, 2013Eversync

Most businesses recognize they need to backup data and many even routinely perform this task. However where they may lack clarity is in what backup actually costs them and if they are getting the most value from their investment in the technology they currently have in-house. Here are four simple tips to help you evaluate the backup solution that you are currently using as well as some steps that you might want to take to lower backup’s total cost of ownership (TCO) in your environment.

Tip #1 – Switch from tape to disk

Tape has been a mainstay as a backup target for years if not decades and many organizations still use it. If you are one of those organizations, it is time to take a long hard look at why you still use tape.

To cut to the chase, tape is not even close to the value it once was as a backup target. While its price per GB was once one-tenth than that of hard disk drives (HDDs), that has largely reversed. The newest HDDs now offer more capacity than tape cartridges (the largest HDD is now 4 TBs) and costs less.

Disk also solves problems that have long plagued tape-based backup. In almost every case, using disk instead of tape will result in faster backups that complete successfully more often. Further, disk facilitates the introduction of data deduplication into the backup process. This increases the capacity disk can hold by at least another 10x with many organizations able to achieve up to 20x reductions in backup data.

Tip #2 – Buy a backup appliance

Everyone used to buy backup software, servers and storage and then set it up for themselves. However ordering, configuring and deploying all of these components will minimally take days if not weeks or months to complete. Even then, it may not be properly configured or setup as configuring backup software is not the core competency of many IT administrators.

To remove this task from your plate, use backup appliances. Backup appliances come pre-packaged and pre-configured as all-in-one solutions. They remove the complexity and labor associated with backup with the only setup required being organization-specific (assigning IP addresses and going through wizards to identify which backups to run.)

Yet the largest benefit that backup appliances may provide is simplifying backup’s ongoing support. ApplicationContinuity.org found that 93% of businesses said it was critical for them to have 24x7x365 support. Yet even if support is offered, effectively delivering it may be difficult to achieve in the backup realm if an organization has to place separate calls to software, server, storage and even networking providers to troubleshoot issues.

Using backup appliances, support becomes a single call to a single provider. The provider should know exactly what hardware and software firmware is on the appliance and then have access to the latest parts or software needed to fix them if those are the issue. Maybe more importantly, if a call is placed to support, an IT administrator does not need to spend a great deal of time first describing what their backup environment looks like. The support staff should immediately have a good handle on that and be able to start troubleshooting the issue.

Tip #3 – Automate backup

Successful backups are key to protecting data but the people time that organizations spend managing it should be going down over time, not up. If hauling tapes offsite, installing agents on servers or tracking how many backup software licenses you need still constitutes a major part of your day-to-day job responsibilities, your organization is NOT using IT time effectively as solutions now exist that automate and simplify many of these backup tasks.

Backup appliances such as those that Eversync automate backup as it offers replication software so organizations can at least minimize if not eliminate the need to manually move data offsite using tapes. These backup appliances also include the majority if not all of the software features that an organization needs to protect their environment so they do not need to spend time tracking which feature license they need or how much of it.

Finally, as more organizations virtualize their environments, it opens the door for them to further automate backups by eliminating the use of backup agents. Leading hypervisors such asVMware vSphere provide data protection APIs that backup software leverages to do agentless backups. Using these APIs, organizations can again minimize or even eliminate the time their IT staff spends installing and configuring backup agents on each virtual machine.

Tip #4 – Better ways to add value than maintaining backups

Some of you reading this may have successfully setup and implemented backups and your current environment is running fine. First off, kudos to you! You have accomplished a feat that not many have. But as you are patting yourself on the back, it is also important to ask yourself, “Is building and supporting backup the best use of your time or are there other tasks that you can and should be doing that add more value to you organization?

If there are other tasks that add more value to your organization (and in most cases there are,) it is better for you to get in place a backup solution that requires less of your time and energy before your management figures out the same thing and does it for you.

Backup has changed…  and largely for the better. It is more economical, completes backup and recoveries more quickly with higher success rates and has removed many of its costs, complexities and labor. So if you still do backup yourself in the “old-fashioned way,” technology has moved on and it behooves you to do the same. If you do, you will discover as others have by advancing to an all-in-one backup solution such as what Eversync offers, you will lower your organization’s TCO, improve its ROI and maybe even get a little R&R for yourself.

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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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